Tips to Keep Your Valuables Safe While Traveling in Southeast Asia

Tips for Keeping Your Valuables Safe While Traveling

Looking for how to best keep your valuables safe while traveling in Southeast Asia? We got you. Being travel bloggers we have a lot of expensive gear and electronics we have to travel with to be able to work on the road. We have one big backpack for clothes, and two small backpacks with our big money items; our electronics. We travel with two computers, 4 external hard drives, a handful of SD cards, DSLR camera, expensive camera lenses, a GoPro, and an iPad. Sounds like a bit much right? We need to be able to run our blog but that leads to the concern of keeping our valuables safe during our travels.

If we were to get robbed it would absolutely hurt us as we are carrying thousands of dollars worth of gear we can’t easily replace. We need to keep our valuables safe, especially since we aren’t carrying our computers when we go to waterfalls, caves, or trekking. The average traveler doesn’t carry as much expensive gear as us, but still need to know how to keep their stuff safe while traveling.

We have been asked by readers if it is safe to bring their DSLR camera on their trip. There is a risk it can get stolen, but you have that risk anywhere you take your camera. Afterall, you will want to capture your memories from your trip! But there are a things you can do while traveling to prevent your stuff from getting stolen. We have put together some tips to keep your valuables safe while traveling.

Bus & Train Rides

night bus

Backpack is secure between the window and scott’s legs

We are almost always using a bus for transportation. Whether it’s a border crossing, an overnight, or a 10 hour day trip if you take a snooze and there is a thief nearby, this may be the perfect time for them to snatch your stuff while your guard is down.

We keep all our valuables in our small backpacks and DO NOT let it leave our sight. The larger backpack only has our clothing and toiletries in it and is usually under the bus with other travelers’ bags. Don’t ever leave valuables in your bag that is getting stored with other people’s luggage. Here are more tips you should consider:

  • Keep your bag with valuables on your lap or in between your legs.
  • Lock zippers or face the zippers in the direction that will make it most difficult for someone to go through your stuff without you seeing.
  • When the bus stops for a bathroom break or you have to use the toilet on a train take your backpack with you.
  • Never set it down and walk away.
  • Keep the bag between your feet if you are at a food stop eating.
  • Do not leave valuables in your bag that will go in storage under the bus. It is said people get robbed, even with locks on their zippers.
  • We recommend not knocking yourself out with valium or sleeping pills, you do not want to be in a deep slumber if someone is feeling around for your goods.

Hotel Rooms

backpack lock

Our Big bag locked to the bed in our room

You can’t possibly carry all your valuables with you at all times. There will be activities where you can’t take your computer obviously, or ipad, or even your DSLR camera. But you shouldn’t trust just a lock on the door at your guesthouse/hotel. We are staying at places that are under $15/night, there is no way we trust our valuables in their hands while we are gone. We have heard that women even get their designer perfumes stolen by the cleaning people in their rooms. Crazy right? Our life saver here is our Pacsafe bag protector. Everytime, I mean EVERYTIME, we leave the room we pack up our valuables in our big bag and use this awesome cage and lock to secure it on something sturdy in the room. Sometimes the only secure thing is the toilet attached to the wall. This can be a pain and take extra time, but it’s worth it if we are keeping someone out of our bag. If your room has a safe, then you can use this as well. We have only had one room so far that has had one. (keep in mind we are staying at budget places, nicer hotels will have safes available)

Avoid Being Pickpocketed

This is probably the most common form of robbery among travelers. Whether its your wallet with just cash, or your wallet with everything (passport, credit cards, etc.) you should always be aware of the possibility of pickpockets. Here are some tips to avoid pick pockets.

  • Avoid walking through huge clusters of people (if possible).
  • Men can put a rubberband around their wallet to make it harder to slip it out of your pocket.
  • Women do not carry a clutch.
  • Check to make sure zippers are fully closed frequently.
  • Carry/hold bags close to your body, do not dangle them or set them down.
  • Try not to show the amount of money in your wallet when paying for something.
  • Do not carry all your money in one wallet.
  • Don’t carry an open bag without zippers with valuables.
  • Don’t carry all your important documents, cash, credit cards in one place.

Be Prepared


Sometimes things happen, no matter how careful you are. Just in case there is an incident you need to be proactive and ready to handle the situation of all your lost property. We recommend being prepared by having the following ready before anything is stolen.

  • Have copies of your passport (we have ours in our email since a paper copy gets crinkled when traveling)
  • Have extra passport photos
  • Have your bank contact info ready
  • Read and learn how to replace your passport before to know what to expect. We like this post by Nomadic Matt where he speaks from experience when he lost his passport.  

Be Aware

You don’t need to be paranoid, but be aware of your surroundings. Notice who is around you and if anyone seems suspicious. Usually your instincts are correct. Try to keep a comfortable distance from strangers.

It’s also good to be aware that locals are not the only thieves. Be wary of other travelers. Some desperate traveler stole my new Havaianas flip flops from a restaurant. Not the worst that could happen, but still annoying. Don’t trust other travelers in dorm rooms either. Do not let your guard down around someone you just met.

Don’t just take our word for it, we like this post that GRRRL Traveler did on how to outsmart pickpockets and thieves.

Hopefully these tips will help you like they have helped us. Unfortunately, if someone wants to rob you all methods you do to try and prevent it may not help. If the thief has a will, they may find a way. We aren’t saying these techniques we use are fool proof, but they will decrease your odds in getting robbed on the road. Have any additional tips or advice? Share on our comments below!