How To Avoid Being Robbed On The Road

the-roadWhen I ran away and lived on the streets of Europe and the Middle East, I acquired certain survival skills. I learned which dumpsters would yield the best food. I learned how to jump trains, hitchhike and travel for free.  And although it took me many fights, I also learned how to outsmart and avoid those who wanted to do me harm.

In the following guide, you will learn how to best prepare and protect yourself from potential robbers in any country of the world.

Have No Fear

I feared just about everyone. I was certain that they wanted to rob me. The more I feared, the more scarred I became. I used my stolen knife to dissuade potential threats. I got in countless fights.

The fear made me weak. Like prey, I attracted the predators. They could sense it on me from hundreds of feet away.

In time I began to understand that the best way to avoid confrontation was to stop worrying about being robbed.

If I simply remained calm, positive, and promoted a true sense of confidence, I would no longer be a target.

Fear and increased awareness is healthy and important when on the road. But too much fear can compromise common sense. It can grow like a weed in the mind, and can lead to paranoia and a lack of confidence. It is this kind of fear, a fear that invokes weakness, which will almost always lead to their manifestations.


The Scream by Edvard Munch

Trust Your Instincts

In the beginning, I trusted everyone. I trusted the drug dealers and the scammers. On top of that I was even polite to them. I had never in my whole 16 years encountered anyone who had bad intentions, so why shouldn’t I trust them.

Needless to say this often led to some sketchy situations. I ended up surrounded by a gang of kids in Turkey and I was nearly kidnapped by a middle-aged man in Prague.

After a while, I began to trust that tiny tingle in the pit of my stomach. I did away with my programmed politeness and would flee before the situation could escalate.

Trust your instincts and don't become prey

Trust your instincts and don’t become prey

Be Prepared For Anything

Most of the time you will see it coming but sometimes you won’t. Just recently, two good friends of mine were robbed on a public bus in Colombia. Fortunately they weren’t hurt but all their valuables were stolen. In these cases it won’t matter how confident or how trained your instincts are. You simply need to be prepared.

By being prepared I mean having some kind of secret stash. Somewhere you can hide your valuables.

In the past I had a special compartment in the back of my bag. In Italy when my bag was ransacked, they took everything except for my laptop and passport which was hidden within my backpack frame.

Nowadays, I often opt for secret compartments in my clothes. Last year I had my mother sow a compartment into my jacket. This year I’ve opted for something a little stealthier. I now wear underwear with two built in pockets.

Thankfully, during my entire backpacking career no one has ever bothered to check my underwear. I am very confident, that this is one of the best defenses against robberies. If you’re interested in underwear like this or other clothes with stealthy pockets, you can check them out at

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 8.08.55


If you’re worried about being robbed or harassed on the road, you shouldn’t be. There will always be people, whether your in Ethiopia, El Salvador, or a quaint suburb of New York City, who will be searching for their next victim.

But as long as you don’t allow the fear to dominante you conciouse, you trust your instincts and prepare chances are you won’t run into them.

Today, no matter what country I’m in, my survival instincts always kick in. I am always looking for safe places to sleep. And while I try to see the good in everyone, I am always aware of those who may harbor bad intentions. Fortunately, I never allow it to overcome my person. I stay calm, trust my instincts, and gain confidence from my preparedness.

Let Me Know What You Think!

  1. Sirius says

    Hey Leif! I’m in a troubling dilemma. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted adventure. Well, in the past year, I’ve taken a liking to both Narnia and Lord of the Rings. And what have those book series done for me? Magnified that longing for adventure! I bet you’re thinking I’m probably a pathetic nerd who wouldn’t last an hour. And we’re all entitled to our opinions. But I’m not, by any stretch of the meaning. I love the outdoors. I go on hikes, I fish, and I hunt quite often. I’m currently 15, almost 16, and failing in school, and gradually detaching myself from friends and family. Should I be buff if I were to run? I’m not the strongest, but I’m not weak either. Also, if I get into a sticky situation, how do I determine whether fight or flight is the best option? If possible, email me, but I’ll be checking back for a response too. You’re awesome and inspiring! Thanks for everything, and best of luck to you on your travels!

    • says

      Hey Sirius,
      No worries :)
      Fight or flight depends on the situation. There’s no definitive answer to it.
      Ultimately, its best to avoid this kind of predicament altogether though.
      Glad you like the guide!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *