How to Maximize Your Safety and Security
Hide your money on your body using a money belt or other security device. While traveling to and from Russia carry all your money and documents with you on the plane. Once in Russia donít carry all your money with you if you have an alternative secure place to leave it. Use a hotel safe if available. Leave some money, ATM or credit cards hidden in your locked luggage if you luggage is stored in a secure place.
Avoid using the restroom alone at the airport if you are still on the public side, you could be easily cornered and robbed without anyone seeing it happen. Wait until you get past the security check point when you are leaving Russia or use the facilities on the plane before deplaning when you arrive. Use the restroom before you leave for the airport so you donít find yourself compromising this rule.
Donít leave your luggage unattended for any reason. If you do, you may never see it again.
Donít pack valuables in your check luggage . . . always carry them with you and keep them with you or within eyesight when you are seated on the plane. Take your money with you when you use the restroom on the plane.
Donít get into a taxi with other people in it. This could be a set up for being abducted and robbed.
Dress like a local man . . . this usually means wearing dark and simple clothes and shoes. If you look like a foreigner, especially a western foreigner, you are setting yourself up to be selected as a target for theft or robbery.
Be prepared for theft
What will you do if your credit cards, cash and everything else is lost or stolen from you? Be prepared for the worst case scenario to minimize the detriment to your trip. Bring a list of all your card numbers and contact phone numbers so you can report a lost or stolen card and hopefully get it replaced quickly. Keep this list in a secure and separate place from your wallet. Many card brands will accept collect calls if you need to report a lost or stolen card. If you are not in Moscow or St. Petersburg you may not be able to get it replaced while you are in Russia.
Donít rely on just one form or source for money. Bring with you: Western Currency (Dollars) to be exchanged for Rubles, Travelerís Checks to be exchanged for Rubles, ATM card to withdraw cash from bank machines, Credit Cards for cash advances and large expenditures like hotel and airfare. Donít carry all these with you at one time unless you absolutely have to when you are traveling. If you leave behind your plastic cards and travelers checks in your secure apartment or hotel then you can use these as emergency sources of funds incase you are robbed of the cash you are carrying.
Donít keep all your money in one place. This way if you are robbed your loss and inconvenience will be minimal. If you feel you have a safe place to store your money at your hotel or apartment then leave some if not most of it there and carry the rest with you as you venture around town.
Carry only the amount of money you will need for the day plus a little more encase you want to make an unexpected purchase. If you carry at least one ATM card or Credit Card you will probably be able to get more money from a local bank if you need it for the day.
Keep a small amount of money in your wallet for convenience but also hide money on your person. You can purchase travel security devices to hide money and passports on your body. You can also hide a large bill or two in the bottom of your shoe or socks.
Be prepared to surrender your wallet if you are robbed. There is no point in putting your health and safety in jeopardy if you are being robbed. With this in mind be prepared to give up a wallet that has previously been stripped down to its bare necessities. There is no point in losing precious pictures or other items that are difficult to be replaced. A thin wallet may be less noticeable than a fat one.
Keep your wallet in your front pocket not your back pocket to guard against pick pockets in crowded areas. Put your hand in your pocket to cover your wallet if you think you are in a vulnerable situation. Make this even simpler keeping your cash in your front pocket and not carrying a wallet at all.
You canít assume that your apartment or hotel room is safe. You have no way of knowing who else may have the key. If you are in a hotel their may be a guard at each floor to monitor who comes and goes but you can not depend on this as your primary shield of protection.
Donít answer the door if it not somebody you know. A stranger may use a convincingly deceptive reason to get you to open the door so they can gain entrance to your apartment in order to rob you. One technique is for a lady to stand in front of the door for you to see her while her partners hide to the side waiting for you to open the door so they can force their way in and take control. If you are left alone at a friendís apartment it is best not to answer the door for a stranger you are not expecting.
Always carry your passport with you. You will need it for currency exchanges and if you are stopped by any authorities.
Be able to call home. If you do experience a theft you may need to call someone for emergency assistance. You can obtain a prepaid calling card before you leave home so you will have a means to make an international call from Russian if necessary. Hopefully you wonít need to use the card and you can leave it as a gift for your lady.