This past weekend I had the opportunity to catch up with my friend Nigel Clifford, an avid traveller and entrepreneur. He recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for his business Adventure Underwear, which aims to revolutionize the travel industry by ridding the world of dorky looking money belts forever and replacing them with stylish, comfortable and practical merino wool underwear. (It’s awesome. Check it out.) I actually own a pair of these, and well, my ass feels great in them! Nigel offered to give us his take on the 5 dumbest ways to get your valuables stolen on a Gap Year.
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I seem to have this bad habit of putting myself into really stupid situations and then by sheer luck avoiding complete disaster.
Take for example the time I went to a Korean Jjimjilbang and managed to confuse the entrance to the “be as naked as the day you were born” spa area with the entrance to the “if you walk in here naked you’re going to jail” lobby area. Luckily I was hastily pursued by one of the staff who grabbed me just before I was going to part the curtains and send a room full of young women and children into therapy for many years to come.
My friends in the examples below however were not quite as lucky as me.
In my travels I’ve come across numerous examples of people getting their valuables stolen, but these are the 5 dumbest ways I’ve seen people get their valuables stolen.
1) Being held up at Gun Point – Minus The Gun
One dear friend of mine managed to get robbed on a beach in Brazil. Now I’ll give him some leeway here because he was as high as a kite at the time, but all the same it was a pretty lame excuse for a robbery. The stranger approached him on the beach with what was clearly two fingers poking through his t-shirt and asked quite politely if he had any money. My friend relinquished everything that was in his pockets and consequently was robbed for the equivalent of 50 pence.
2) Being a Movie Stereotype
Our second dumbest way to lose your money comes from my friend in Peru, who decided that it would be a smart idea to walk down a dark alleyway in the middle of the shantytown where she was staying with her handbag hanging by a spaghetti string over her shoulder. Surprise, surprise she had the damn thing snatched right off her quicker than you can say “DON’T WALK DOWN A DARK ALLEY WAY WITH A HANDBAG YOU FOOL YOU LIVE IN A SHANTYTOWN!”
3) Doing “The Helicopter”
One night during Carnival in Rio I witnessed a young man being pickpocketed by a gang of street kids. They were quite an organized bunch, the group would encircle the guy and then one at a time dive their hands into his pockets. The man would turn around and then the kids on the other side of the circle would take their turn. This went on and on for a couple of minutes and the man’s best attempts to evade his assailants resulted in him looking like a helicopter, pretty much exactly what the kids wanted. If you find yourself in this situation, I would advise against doing the helicopter.
4) Falling Asleep
It’s pretty obvious to point out that if you fall asleep then your chances of protecting you valuables diminish drastically. Well my friend learnt this the hard way when she fell asleep on Copacabana beach with her camera right in front of her face. Now you may think that nobody would have the balls to take a camera that is lying right in front of somebody’s face, but Copacabana is notorious for it’s thieves and my friend woke up 5 minutes later to find her camera pilfered.
5) Assuming thugs have never seen a money belt before
My last case study was a couple of guys I met who had been to Carnival in Salvador. They had been following one of the bloc parties down the street when all of sudden they were accosted by 2 burley guys wielding machetes. They figured their money would be safe since they kept it all in their money belts, until their new friends used their machetes to lift up their shirts and then cut off their money belts, running off into the night with their passports, credit cards and a whole lot of cash. I mean are you serious!? You think a thief in a popular tourist destination doesn’t now that backpackers carry around money belts? You think he isn’t going to lift up your shirt and check? Lesson learnt.
Stories like these frustrated the hell out of me, there was obviously no complete solution to travel theft available to travellers like these. Traditional approaches like money belts are uncomfortable, difficult to access, not always waterproof and obvious to criminals. I wanted to create something better, so I came up with Adventure Underwear.
Adventure Underwear is a practical solution to safeguarding your valuables in the form of premium merino wool underwear with hidden waterproof pockets that keep your valuables safe anytime, anywhere. It’s also good for travellers because they’re made from superfine merino wool, so the underwear doesn’t hold odours and it dries quickly, which is a nice feature to have when you’re moving around a lot.
We’ve tested our prototype on hundreds of travelers around the world, using their feedback to tweak our design and improve the usability of our product.
We are very proud to finally bring Adventure Underwear to the world. If you’re curious then go to our kickstarter page now to see them in action and check out some of the creative rewards on offer, like our brass compass and our hand carved treasure chest!