With all the people at Carnaval, this was seriously a pickpockets dream.

After being mugged in Chile this past summer, and having my Ipod stolen, you would think that I would have learned to be a little more careful with my electronics while abroad. Well guess again! Over my trip to Veracruz for Caranaval this past weekend, my digital camera was stolen. I gave it to my friend to take some pictures during the parade; someone snatched it out of his hand while the parade was passing by. Oh well, you live and you learn I guess.

This experience has really gotten me thinking about being safe and using good judgment while being abroad. So here are some tips that I’ve learned from my own mistakes:

1. Be discrete with your valuable items while walking around in public. You probably already stick out enough as it is. Don’t make yourself a bigger target by waving around cash or other valuable items.

2. Be leery of unfamiliar taxis. Rather than hailing a cab on the street, it’s better to call the company and have them pick you up. Never get into a taxi that has two people in it unless it is a colectivo, as it is much easier to be robbed by two people than it would be to be robbed by the driver.

3. When you go out to nightclubs, try not to bring jackets, purses, or wallets because these can be easily stolen. (Bring just your ID and enough money with you for the cover, drinks, and transportation).

4. If you’re out at a club with other people and decide to leave, make sure to tell someone. This will help protect you because other people will know where you are, and it will save your friends the time and energy of looking for you and worrying about you.

5. If you ever go someplace new, then make sure your cell phone is charged and you know someone who you can call in case of an emergency.

6. Use the buddy system when going to the ATM, and try to avoid withdrawing money at night.

7. Be aware of your surroundings. As a foreigner it is very easy to wonder into the “wrong” part of town. If your not sure if the place you are going to is safe, then ask!

8. Don’t do anything that draws unwanted attention (i.e. acting ridiculous, speaking English really loudly, being extremely obnoxious to the other people around you). You probably look like a tourist as it is. If you look like you know what you’re doing, then people will probably leave you alone.

9. Follow your instincts. If something seems sketchy, then it probably is.

10. If someone tries to rob or mug you, then let them have what they want. You can replace your wallet or your Ipod. You can’t replace YOU!

It’s very easy to do things abroad that you wouldn’t normally do while at home. Just use some common sense and be weary of your surroundings and strangers and your study abroad experience will be fantastic!

Chau, camera. It was nice to know you!