So I keep hearing that Costa Rica isn’t safe and that you will get robed every time you turn around. So I am here to tell you the truth of it. Yes this does happen! Yes be you in Costa Rica or somewhere else bad people are out there and looking to take what you have and make it theirs. Guess what, it happens in every city in every town in every country around the world. Its not just Costa Rica where it happens. Does it happen here yes. So this blog is some common sense rules to keeping yourself and your things safe while traveling and living in Costa Rica, or anywhere for that matter. It falls on us to be sure our stuff is safe and make it hard for those who wish to take it, to take it. Its sad, but if we do something stupid we shouldn’t be surprised when its taken from us. I know it sounds like blaming the victim, but if you use common sense you won’t be a victim. There are times when we do all the things we can and it still isn’t enough. Bad people are everywhere.
So 1st of all don’t go flashing your wealth around like a $2 bill or Liberace. If you are going out wear a minimum amount of jewelry or no jewelry. Who are you trying to impress? You are on vacation don’t flash it. If you live here wear it around the house or to places you trust, but don’t be flashy about it. This will not only make you a target it could cost you your life. Is you life, and the life of those around you more important than the big diamond necklace you have to wear and show to all your friends while you are in a restaurant? If you are going to a beach or resort leave your flashy baubles at home. You know you are going to take them off to get in the water, so why wear them at all? You can be sure someone is watching for that person to take off their rings or necklace and put it in a bag or on their blanket or wrap it up in their towel. Once you do that they will look for ways to take it.
So no matter if you live here or you are visiting for a vacation you are always going to be carrying stuff around with you. Either your wife or significant other will have a bag you put everything in or you will have one as well. Here is a big tip take as little as possible when you go out. You know that big camera you carry around so you can get those wonderful pictures of the beautiful country, the people and its food. Well if you are anything like me. So maybe you have a camera like this. Its large hard to carry and very obvious to someone who would target you. I have this one and do take it out from time to time, but not when I am going to a beach, or rain forest, or any other place where it may get wet or I will put it down to do something. Now if I am shooting things in a town or at the house or while I’m driving. Well not driving but you know what I mean. 🙂 This camera is good. Now I usually carry a camera like this one. I love this camera. I can take it anywhere. Its small and can fit in my pocket. It is shock proof, water proof so if it is in my pocket and I walk into the water no worries. I can get those wonderful under water pictures of the fish and reefs. If it starts to rain again no worries. If a monkey takes it from me and throws it, I’m still good. Yes this can happen. Its easy to hide and people don’t notice it and it isn’t a big target for a thief. It takes some great pictures. Here is one I took of the view outside my living room. Now there is a picture with some color and yes it was an overcast day and I shot it from my sofa so I zoomed in. This is a great little camera and no I am not getting paid for this blog. I just like what I like. Sometimes bigger is not better. It also takes great video as well!
OK two schools of thoughts on your passport. Carry with or carry a color copy? I have had my passport in my bag for over a year now. It really is up to you. If you want to be safe take the color copy with you. It is my understanding that it should be accepted as Identification, but like most things in Costa Rica it depends on who you talk to and what mood they are in today if they will accept the copy. I will tell you some passports are targets. A US passport can be sold for a lot of money. Should it be stolen or lost contact the local consulate a.s.a.p.
Money, money, money. Very simple rule keep it in small amounts and don’t go flashing it. Keep it in your pocket or bag and find what you need and only pull out the amount you are going to use. Don’t pull out a big wad and count it out. Use a credit card or debit card where possible. Most places accept all major banks here in Costa Rica. If you do carry money and credit cards, put them in various places. A little in your bag, some in a pocket and some in your bra. 🙂 If you have one. 🙂 Now don’t go to the ATM at night. Don’t take the money out and than count it while you are there or walking back to your car or house. Take it and put it right in your bag or pocket. Once somewhere safe count it. You should be ok, but if not than you have to go back to the bank anyway so doing it in the ATM or outside of it is more dangerous. Keep it safe.
Prescription medications are a big one. Keep them locked away. You should only carry with you what you need for the day. Leave the rest at home or if you are on vacation at the hotel in the safe or somewhere that is locked. You could get home and notice you are a few pills short. Like in most countries there is a black market for drugs. Many hotel staff will skim them off the top if you are not careful. Again if you are in a restaurant or on the beach and you pull out an entire bottle of pills to take one someone is going to notice. Again this puts a big target on your back.
Ok so we talked about this bag someone is going to have. Now it doesn’t matter if you live here or you are vacationing here. Someone is going to have a bag when you go out to carry your stuff in. Like I said my wife and I both have a bag. This picture is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Never, ever, ever leave your bag unattended. It doesn’t matter if you are in Costa Rica, US, or any other country this is a big mistake. Don’t expect that if you leave anything, phone, camera, bag, or you kids unattended that it will be there when you go back for it. Well depending on how behaved your kids are you may not have to worry about them. 🙂 All joking aside, kidnapping isn’t out of the realm of possibilities either, especially if you have flashed your jewelry, are carrying a huge expensive camera, and have a designer bag. Yes don’t carry a designer bag around. Who are you trying to impress? Are you trying to get your shit stolen? You must want it stolen. Nice plain no thrills bag like the one in the picture is good. OK, so you are in a restaurant and you put your bag on the back of your chair. How many of us have done this raise your hand. Yep that is my hand. I’ve done this and I’ve been lucky. You might get lucky as well. What prompted this blog was someone on Facebook told a story of being in a local restaurant and she placed her bag on the back of her chair. Well, she was in a group of about 12 people and they were all talking and joking and eating and having a good time. Well someone lifted her bag right off the chair and walked out. No one noticed. Keep you bag in your sight or out of sight at all times. I usually put it under the table or on the floor next to my legs and leave the strap wrapped under my leg. You could put it on an empty chair but make sure it is in your sight. You carry your life in that bag, especially when you are on vacation. Keep it safe!!!!!!
If you travel by car, cab or bus you have to be careful. Keep your things in your sight and reach at all times. Now if you rent or won a car and drive places you need to do a check before you leave your car. Lock your car, use your alarm and keep all items out of sight or on you at all times. As an example if you have a GPS that isn’t installed in the car, remove it. Take it with you. If you have a stand it sits on and you leave that in your window than they will break in and check your glove compartment and console to see if you put it in there. Leave nothing of value in your car especially if you park it on the street. If you are in a parking lot with guards it is a bit safer, but don’t get use to not taking your stuff out as you could get lazy and that one time you forget is the one time it will happen.
Also if you can drive with your windows up and don’t put them down for the street people! I have heard stories of people walking up and taking rings and watches off of peoples arms and hands. if you must have your window open don’t wear jewelry. Don’t think you can wear it on the other arm or hand. I have heard about them burning people with a cigarette so that you reach it over and then they take it. They are smart and you have to be smarter. Sorry that is a fact of life.
My last common sense item I am going to take a line from one of my favorite shows, “How I met your Mother”. “Nothing good happens after 2 am.” You should not be out late alone! Period, end of story, don’t do it. Even if it is just two of you you are taking your life and you valuables in your own hands. Really you live in Costa Rica, you wake up early and there is no reason for you to be out on the streets after, say even midnight much less 2am. Don’t wonder the streets or dark alley ways or lone roads late at night. There is no reason for it! Drive or take a taxi to your party and if it gets out late, drive or take a taxi home. Don’t walk! This is good advise no matter where you live or vacation.
So no need to rate anything so lets wrap this up. Use common sense, don’t be out late, don’t flash your wealth, don’t leave things unattended. I think that pretty much covers it. Have a good trip and enjoy your new life if you live here. Now follow these rules and many others and Costa Rica or whatever country you life in or vacation in will be a wonderful time! You will be able to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the place you are in.