Is wearing your camera around your next safe when traveling to a foreign country?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by martine_sansoucy, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. Hi!
    I am so incredibly excited! I just booked my first destination wedding for Mexico next April..and I am also planning a trip to Italy for next November with my mom!
    What I am interested in knowing, is how do other photographers travel with their cameras? I would love to take lots of street shots, particularly in the markets, and around some of the more desolate areas. Is it acceptable to wear a camera around my neck, or will this be asking for a theft or being robbed?
    Any advice for a first time traveler would be great!! I want to get the best shots possible and would love to bring my best camera, but my biggest fear is it being stolen. What are your biggest travel tips?
    Thanks so much!
  2. Mexico I can't address, but I have had no problem just about anywhere in Europe. Europe is such a touristy place that a camera is a pretty common sight. Because of this you should be able to get some nice street shots. On my travels, whilst walking about, I always kept the strap around my neck and my hand on the camera. Also, be aware of your surroundings...Is anyone watching you? Don't get into crowded situations...sometimes the bumping together (like on subways) is a perfect cover for ripping you off. Travel with at least one other "wingman/woman"--for more security and because it's more fun, too! Just keep up your "situational awareness" and you should be fine. Have a couple of great trips!
  3. I would camouflage any expensive camera equipment by using a cheap plastic bag from a local store to carry it in such places. Carry *a copy* of your passport and your electronic flight ticket and some spare money in a belly pouch *under* your shirt. Try to look like a local, wear cheap clothes. Check your insurance policy if simple theft is covered. But most important, have fun!
  4. I've worn my camera around my neck in a number of "desolate" (birding) areas of Mexico without incident during trips this past July (Yucatan Peninsula) and January (Western Mexico, as far south as Colima). I've generally, but not always, been in the company of a fellow (male) photographer or two, and only once avoided going, alone, down a certain stretch of country road because an unfamiliar vehicle was parked there, making me feel a bit uncomfortable. Just take the same sensible precautions you'd take if you were in an equivalent area of the USA: being aware of your surroundings, not leaving belongings unattended, etc. I've found the Mexicans to be very welcoming, and the food is great.
    As others have said, enjoy these trips! (And bring your longest lens. Even if you're not a wildlife photographer, the birds are fantastic!)
  5. I've been in places where my camera gear represented more than a year's income for many of the local people and I've usually worn the camera gear around my neck. Once, I was warned by a Colombian citizen while I was in Peru not to do that in Bogota, but I did anyway, with no problem.
    It's important to be alert to what is going on around you. Never set bags, etc on the ground while you shoot, and keep a firm grip on gear and bags alike. Watch out for people on motor scooters, in many places.
    Then again, I'm not a woman, and don't know how that does affect the equation in the particular places you're headed for.
    Something on the line of Marcus' suggestions may be a good idea, even in US big cities, for that matter. But the only way to be sure, is not to bring the gear with you in the first place. It's astonishing how well a small viewfinder camera can do for you, but you bought the fancy gear to use, after all. Just check on insurance before you go.
  6. I would worry more about your neck than the camera when they snatch your camera as they drive by on their Vespa.
  7. Here is another option...get a good quality P&S. I just ordered a Canon S95, for example, and, if this little guy works out, I may be going the minimalist route for street and "risky" tourism...maybe you could consider that?
  8. It all depends on the neighborhood and the type of crowd that's around you (or NOT around you). I would be more concerned about a mugging in Newark or Miami than I would in Mexico City. But that's not to say that it doesn't happen in Mexico City, and sometimes the consequences are deadly.
    Pickpockets might be more of a problem, because they can strike anywhere. Muggers generally avoid crowded areas; they prefer to prey on isolated victims. Stay near people, use common sense, don't spend time out alone when it's dark, check your valuables immediately if someone bumps into you or tries to distract you with loud talking or an annoying noise, and keep a close eye on ALL of your belongings at all times.
  9. You "booked", so you will get paid.
    Consult Embassy or Consulate of the country you are going to work, for obtaining a temporary work permit there. This could be just obtaining proper type of visa ? even if you would not need any visa there? Consult local tourist office about it, as they could help get you proper documents, or advice you what to do.
    I had to prove upon departure at the Mexico City airport that I did not purchase the equipment in Mexico, or else would had to pay an export fee or have the equipment confiscated. This was perhaps 20 years ago.
    Obviously I did not have any proof with me that I brought the camera with me from USA. So, any custom declaration upon entry could help with exit.
    Solution that was disciovered was very simple, a $20 was paid to the person, and no talk, no paper work.
    I think that was an isolated incident, since I traveled many times to Mexico later on, and had proper proof of ownership and custom declarations, but was never asked about the equipment again.
  10. I got rolled by 4 guys one night about 9 o'clock on the main street of colonial Santiago, Chile with a nice Sony A100 hanging around my neck. They gently deposited me on the ground, went straight for the cash in my pockets. They didn't bother with the camera. There were 50 locals on the sidewalk within 25 feet of us. Everyone kept walking as if nothing was happening. It was interesting, about 30 seconds before I was rolled, a guy walked up beside me and intentionally bumped into me. I instinctively put my hand in my pocket where the cash was. They went straight for that pocket. As previous posters have pointed out, it is all about common sense, alertness and not dressing flashy with designer labels oozing from your every pore.
  11. I have travelled in, and carried my camera around my neck, foreign countries with no problems, including USA.
  12. SCL


    If you're leaving from the US, a couple of weeks before you go, register your camera & gear with US Customs - form 4557 (Certificate of Registration for Personal Effects Taken Abroad). You need to present the gear to them to have the serial #s recorded and validated on the forms. They then stamp the forms. This way not only do you have a record of items with serial #s with you, but also when returning to the US you don't need to worry about somebody questioning you about taxes and bringing gear into the country. The above suggestions are good ones. I always preferred to carry my camera on a shoulder strap bandoleer fashion, and to keep it under a light jacket if in questionable areas. If headed to Mexico (or elsewhere in the world), check online with the US State Dept. for bulletins on safety where you plan to go....they are updated very frequently...I've used them numerous times overseas, and although they can be a little alarming, being forewarned is a great way to avoid most problems. All said and done, have some great trips.
  13. In addition to the above, make sure your camera strap does not advertise your camera brand. Use a non descript strap, that is comfortable, and strong and conducive to your shooting style while abroad. Check out the Black Rapid straps, especially the ones designed for women, point and shoots, etc.
    I use a strap, cover my DSLR and lens with a black neoprene cover to protect it from dust and to hide the brand name. I usually wear a light jacket to hide the camera when needed, sneak it into museums, protect it from rain, etc.
    If you use a fanny pack, backpack, etc or any other such carry system, make sure it comes with two zippers for each compartment so you can attach a safety pin or small lock to prevent someone from trying to open it on the metro or when you get distracted.
    Joe Smith
  14. Try to look like a local, wear cheap clothes.​
    In Italy?
    Maybe Gucci or Versace might help to blend in!
  15. wow, thank you so much for all of your responses! Yes, I think the first thing to do is get camera insurance and make sure I have copies of the receipts for the camera and equipment to prove I bought it here in Canada. The no-name camera strap is an excellent idea, and carrying copies of your passport/info, as well as trying to blend in. I am possibly the most paranoid person in the world so keeping my eyes open won't be a problem haha!
    As for Mexico, the bride is actually from Mexico herself and I will be surrounded by her family (locals) for the majority of the trip so I don't have too many concerns but to be aware. It's Italy I am more concerned about..I have heard the subways and public transportation is bad, but it's interesting that most locals tend to leave the camera alone!
    The biggest thing I've decided to do is to have TONES of memory cards stashed in an inside pants pocket and change them frequently, especially if I feel like I have an epic shot on it. That way, if my camera gets stolen..I still have the memory cards!!
    And yes, I definitely agree a point and shoot would be the more logical choice, but I have been waiting my whole life to visit these places and I want my best equipment with me to capture them :)
    What kinds of equipment would you suggest bringing?
  16. The likelihood of you camera being stolen in Mexico or Italy is probably the same as it is in your own country.
  17. If you come to Britain with a Hasselblad 501CW round your neck, I may mug you !
  18. Martine, I live in Italy,and well, I find your fears a bit unfounded. Let's be clear: yes, you can get mugged. Like you can everywhere on any continent. But, despite frequent use, I still have my camera, no matter how I wore it. Yes, subways are tricky - like everywhere. Just watch your bag and stay cool. Public transport in Italy is not that bad at all. A bit chaotic, but that's more the timetable ;-) Trying to act like an Italian - don't bother. If you visit the big cities, people are used to tourists. The level of income and life standard in large parts of Europe is as good or better than the US. So, the whole idea that we're here in desperate need to take your cameras - no, we already have our own ;-) Really, Italy is no more dangerous than big cities on other continents.
    So, just behave normal and use your common sense. And please do not forget: most people are great and mean well - everywhere.
    I would, however, not stash the memory cards in your pockets. It's called pickpockets for a reason (which, by the way, in many of the large tourist sites in Italy is not that big an issue - a lot of police on the hunt for the pickpockets). Just use a normal camera bag which closes properly and hold it with a hand (shoulderbags fall too easy).
  19. And whatever you do, doan dreenk da watah, maing! That's not just a joke, it is very sound advice. Montezuma's Revenge (staph aureus food poisoning) can ruin your day, or week rather, as it is a self limiting disease that make take a week to resolve itself. DO NOT drink any water that is not bottled and DO NOT drink anything with ice in it. I would be wary of fresh salad greens too, as they could have been washed (or even worse NOT WASHED) in contaminated water.
    A word to the wise, from someone who learned the hard way. I should have known better anyway, since I am a degreed microbiologist. Shame on me for not being a lot more suspicious.
  20. Why not just take a film camera? You can carry it whichever way you want and no one will care...
  21. No problems on many trips to Mexico, though you should realize, as another person mentioned, that a DSLR+lens can represent a huge amount of money to many Mexicans. I mention this simply because of the issues it raises in dealing with people, and trust you'll be sensitive. (Imagine how odd it would feel talking to someone with $100,000 in cash taped to their shirt...)
    Mexicans have often politely warned me and my family about the danger of thieves and pickpockets, but we've never had any actual trouble and have always felt vastly safer there (at least before the drug war insanity) than in most parts of the US.
    While you don't mention children, I'll also say it's very safe and pleasant traveling there with them. Unlike the US, Mexico really has a family values culture, and you feel it immediately when you're with small children there.
  22. I've carried my cameras around my neck in many countries, big cities and desolate areas alike. If you just use your common sense, and have travel insurance, you should be alright. Have a nice trip, by the way :)
  23. I eat fresh fruits and vegetables all the time when I'm in Mexico--in the company of an ornithologist and sometimes also with his friend, a retired professor of microbiology--and have not had the slightest problem that way. Whether from a resort restaurant on Isla Holbox or a village tienda in El Tuito, it's all been delicious. I adore pico de gallo... But of course, intestinal distress can happen most anywhere, so eat only what you feel comfortable with.
    I strongly second Scott's suggestion about bottled water. Tap water in Mexico is fine for washing, brushing your teeth, and cooking, but not otherwise.
  24. I just attended a briefing on crime and terrorism in Mexico. Wearing your camera around your neck will likely be the least of your problems.
  25. I'd worry more about your pocketbook than your camera. I was pickpocketed in Brussels about 5 years ago. It happened in the middle of the afternoon a block from the central square on a summer afternoon in the middle of a big crowd. Of course I looked like a tourist: I had my camera around my neck, a backpack and a roller bag. These two guys ahead of me were acting like they were playing around, pushing each other, which gave them the excuse to push into me. My wallet was in my back pocket and while pushed against me, one of them deftly lifted my wallet out. I didn't feel them take it. But right after it happened, I reached back to feel for it and found it missing. Both of them were right there in front of me and immediately took off running in different directions. I didn't know which one had it, and then didn't want to leave my luggage, camera, or backpack to chase after them. I yelled for some help, but no one was willing to trip them as they ran past. Now I carry my wallet in my front pocket. Obviously they were pros, who knew how to do it. I'm still surprised they could lift my wallet out without my even feeling it!
  26. There are several issues here, but maybe one solution.
    Traveling with a big heavy camera and several lenses is great if you consider it a photo safari, but being a tourist toting all that weight around can be a pain. And most of the shots are going to be "street photos" - candids. So unless you are going on a real safari, a high end P&S or a micro-4/3 camera is a fine choice. I've carried a camera on trips for almost 50 years. In the 60s-70s, it was a Kodak Retina IIIc folding camera or a Leica M2 with 35 and 90 mm lenses. In the 80s-90s, a Minox 35 was always in my briefcase on my world travels. When digital cameras became sufficiently high quality, I used high end P&S cameras (Nikon & Panasonic) that fit in a briefcase or pocket. Last year, before a trip to Turkey, I bought a Olympus E-P1 with the 14-42 lens and was extremely pleased with the results. My son who was traveling on through the Middle East and India for 6 months talked me into letting him take it and I brought his Sony DSLR home to CA. Since then, I have purchased a E-PL1 and E-PL2 plus 9-18 and 40-150 lenses. Now I can travel light or take 2 bodies and 3 lenses for less weight than the Nikon D300/18-200 they have supplanted.
    The other issue is safety. Buy a army surplus backpack or cheap bag and get some of the padded wraps to keep the cameras safe. Stealth is the word. And in Mexico, avoid crowded clubs - it's war down there!
  27. If you have homeowners or renters insurance, adding a policy rider to cover your camera equipment is generally pretty inexpensive. I'm in the insurance business and always suggest it when I find out one of my clients is a photographer. These riders typically cover theft and most evert other kind of loss short of product malfunction - often without having to pay a deductible.
  28. If you come to Britain with a Hasselblad 501CW round your neck, I may mug you !​
    Not if I see you first!
  29. DO NOT drink any water that is not bottled and DO NOT drink anything with ice in it.​
    So the water everywhere except where you live is un-drinkable?
  30. My guess is that it is more important what you do than what country you go to. If you have travelled around in the US or Canada for years without being robbed, that probably means that you already take the right precautions, and you will be fine in other countries as well.
    I spent a few days in Guangzhou a few years ago, and only after I left, I learnt that the city had some sort of reputation of being a crime capital of China. I had had no problems whatsoever. When I left Palermo by train after a visit, a native of the city warned me that people were murdered there all the time. I had seen no crimes at all. However, I had admittedly seen some parts of the city where I would not necessarily show a top end DSLR if I could avoid it, especially at night.
    I have been witness to a few crimes in different countries, but they have often been against "repeat victims", i.e. people who are absent minded or careless, and, unfortunately, look vulnerable.
    You are of course never 100% safe, even if you are constantly alert, but the risk is much, much smaller.
  31. I've travelled a lot in the Middle East and southern Africa (was only ever pickpocketed & mugged in Johannesburg, no surprises there). I always carry my camera with the strap wrapped around my wrist. You can at least hold on to it if someone tries to grab it. Also, it's more comfortable and gives me more control when taking pics. YMMV.
  32. Couple of tips from me:
    Insure everything or leave it at home if you can't afford to replace it; then you won't worry.
    Think about who (or what) you point the camera at. There have been examples of people getting into trouble taking pics of military aircraft for example. I've wandered into some hostile neighbourhoods in the past while travelling, and I often choose not to take a picture if the situation doesn't feel right.
    Nb. the only time my old film Nikon ever let me down was when I took a picture of a carved wooden witch doctor. I took one frame and it jammed. I had to have it repaired at our next destination!
    Take more care in tourist destinations.
    I would echo what others have said. People are basically good wherever you go. Don't worry too much. In the very unlikely event that you are mugged, let them have the camera - you can always buy another one.
    Have a great trip!
  33. it


    Just take your camera, wear it like you want and don't worry about it.
  34. The drug cartels in Mexico are targeting Americans and Europeans. Credit card fraud is the first target, but there is some indication that kidnapping for ransom and some retaliatory killings for arrests in the United States are happening. The tourist enclaves are becoming high risk target areas. I work in the area of security and several of my neighbors have recently returned from Mexico (where they actually have owned property for several decades) and were targeted successfully for credit card fraud and will not be returning soon. The Mexican government cannot provide for your safety. I would seriously consider another destination for your trip.
  35. I travel to Mexico all the time with three cameras and gear. I've never had any problems entering or leaving the country. Mexico will not hand inspect film it has to go through the airport scanner so take low ISO film. Mexico does have a limit of 12 rolls of film (per camera) that you can bring in to the country but I have never had anyone count my rolls. Most tourist spots ran by the government do not allow tripods (you can apply for a special permit months in advance). I have never had any safety issues even in remote areas. Use the same common sense you would use at home and you will be fine. It is a very beautiful country.
  36. Dont worry too much about theft in Europe...provided of course you don't visit the sketchier parts of Naples/Rome etc. in the middle of the night...again common sense. Mexico may be different. Parts of Mexico City or other larger cities probably arent good to flash you L lenses. I once had locals in Quito, Ecuador comment on the fact that certain neighborhoods weren't safe for taking photos. I always carry my gear in the most non-branded, non camera bag I can find....seems to work so far......(knock on wood)
  37. Howdy!
    As an engineer, I would caution against putting too much stock in anecdotal evidence. Just because none of the responders (so far) has ever had a problem doesn't mean you won't. The number of responders do not constitute a significant statistical sample.
    I have been to many countries, including Mexico, and walked in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods on the planet. The advice is always the same. Don't look like a tourist, and carry your money where pickpockets can't get to it.
    That said, cameras are one of the least favorite targets of experienced thieves for a number of reasons:
    • They are easily damaged in a heist, making the effort worthless.
    • They are easily traced by serial number, thus making them hard to fence.
    • They are not easily concealed after a heist, so they tend to mark a criminal in a poorer area as they are fleeing.
    Of course, there's always the possibility that an inexperienced thief will see your camera and go for it anyway. Also, by wearing a camera around your neck, you mark yourself as a tourist, which is always a bad idea. Try to fit in as much as possible. I would carry my camera in a non-descript shoulder pack instead of around my neck, and I would never look at a map or GPS where anybody could see me.
  38. When my wife and I go on an international trip we carry different credit cards. We always record the numbers on the cards and the international phone numbers to call if the cards are stolen. I used to carry my one card in my front pants pocket until it was pick pocketed at the Eifel Tower in Paris. I now carry it in a neck pouch under my shirt. My back up card is in the hotel safe or some place similar. My wife does the same with her cards. All of the other stuff in our wallets for home use stays home !.
    I am a great believer in tripple backup for digital photos. I usually back up my CF cards onto two separate hyperdrives and/or a laptop if I have one with me. I carry my CF cards in a CF case made by Think Tank that has a clip on it that I can attach to something so it will not get lost or misplaced.
    The safest way to always have a copy of your passport is to make an electronic copy of it and email it to you.
    Joe Smith
  39. IMHO, the reward of awesome vacation photos far outweighs the risk of having your equipment stolen. As others have noted, just be careful, have your equipment insured, and have fun!
    I've never used a strap on my SLRs, preferring instead to carry them in a shoulder bag and only get them out when I'm shooting. When I'm traveling I often use an old, ratty, messenger bag. It's tough, waterproof, and with a sweater or something in the bottom protects the camera pretty well.
    I've been to Mexico several times and I think the riskiest activity by far is riding in cabs.
  40. Here is what I use: A non-descript non-camera style bag. Inside the bag I have placed camera bag inserts that I have purchased separately. The shoulder strap should be long enough to wrap across your chest so that it can not be pulled off you shoulder. On the shoulder strap I have attached a climbing carbiner purchased from a outdoor recreation store. The biggest problem that I have seen written about is snatch while you are unattentive. When eating or resting I use the carabiner to attach the strap around itself onto and immovable object. When using the camera I wrap the strap around my wrist. Most of all if I go somewhere that I am uncertain of I will take not my primary camera but a good throw away that I will give up.
  41. Why worry? Insure your cameras before you leave and enjoy yourself. As a previous poster mentioned, most homeowner's insurance allow for a rider that is called "Inland Marine" Coverage (not sure why) that covers the insured item against pretty much any kind of loss. It is inexpensive. I once accidentally dropped a very expensive Canon L lens halfway down a cliff in Yellowstone Park, and it was covered. This, of course, is exactly what insurance is for--to protect you against loss due to a low probability but expensive event.
  42. Get one of the many travel guides to the places you intend to visit, most of these highlight areas to be avoided. I should imagine these are also parts you wouldn't want to photograph anyway. In my experience, in Spain, pickpockets are a bigger menace than muggers, some of the tricks they use are very cunning. I should imagine this applies to any tourist area of the world.
    Concentrate on taking good photos, but don't get too involved that you are not aware of what's going on around you. I would guess that a camera on a strap around your neck is quite hard to take anyway.
    Don't let fear of crime spoil your vacation though, chances are you will have a really great time.
  43. Another piece of advice: get an extremely lightweight overshirt, and ALWAYS wear it. LL Bean makes an excellent super-lightweight button-down shirt with flaps for holding your sleeves in the rolled-up position. You can find it in the Fishing department. I wear one of these shirts (or the North Face version) almost every day of almost every trip. I button the bottom few buttons, and leave it mostly open. You can wear your camera (or your purse) across your chest like a messenger bag, and until you go to use it, would-be thieves only see a strap and a bulge under your shirt. Once you put the camera/purse/both back under the shirt, thieves will have a much more difficult time making off with them without being noticed and causing a ruckus.
    Also, any time you need to put a bag down, step into the strap. That way you're effectively 'holding' the bag with your leg.
    Obviously neither of these tips will help you against thieves that are willing to hurt you to take things. But it will help for the vast majority of thieves, who want to grab your stuff and run away before you can react.
  44. Look, what would the poster advise anyone coming to his/her country as a touris re cameras? Keep camera out of sight and take almost no pics or use camera as usual?
    That same advice (and I do not know what it might be, not knowing where and how poster lives) should be followed anywhere on earth. Mexico, Italy etc. Cameras are cheap, life in fear is not worth the trouble.
  45. I have been going to the same town in Mexico for the past 8 years, and have never had a problem with stolen gear. I took about $5000 worth of video gear one year, and had a blast videotaping locals on the beach being candid etc, and they tended to invite me to video them! I agree with a lot of previous posters about being cautious, though, and just using common sense. My gear was almost always in the bag, and strapped to my shoulders. I never leave gear in my room, and choose instead to take it with me (who wants to miss a good photo op!). The one time I left my bag in the room I hid it very well. This is in a town where the majority of tourists are more wealthy Mexicans from Guadalajara coming to the coast to be near the oceans with their family. Besides, insurance is for peace of mind, so get some if you are taking expensive gear etc. I would focus more on having a good vacation, and just look low-key (blend in!).
  46. I've travelled through more than a few places where it is impossible to look like anything other than a tourist, with a camera around my neck, without any problems. Cambodia, Laos, Guatemala, Mexico, Vietnam, Turkey, Honduras, Belize, and even Los Angeles!
    There is some excellent advice here already, my three favorites so far are;
    -Insurance- if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. Health insurance is the top priority, but a travel policy will cover your possesions too, taking some of the stress out of travelling.
    -Back-Up - it's one thing to have an expensive camera stolen. It can be replaced. But if you have ALL of your photos on the memory card inside the camera, then there was no point in bringing the camera in the first place!
    -Stay Aware - don't put bags down without your leg through one of the straps. Always have just a little suspicion that someone might take your stuff, even at home. Take the time to scan 360 degrees around you, as a photographer you are probably doing this already! Be alert (but not alarmed!).
    My own little piece of advice (which was passed to me from some very well travelled photographers) is to make your camera look like it is not worth stealing. How? Make it look like it is held together with gaffer-tape. Use the stuff with threads in it, it looks the trashiest! Obviously don't cover any of the dials or sensors, but lots of strips and pieces over the panels and grips looks bad- which is good! Pay particular attention to covering the brand name and lettering. Don't have a camera strap with logos - mine does, but it is covered over with embroidered cloth from Vietnam. Not only does it cover the brand name, but makes it look old and well travelled. And much more comfy on my neck too!
    When you are home, if you want to go back to being a "conspicuous consumer", peel all the tape off and clean up with a little "goo-remover" (make sure it is safe for plastics).
    The added bonus of the tape is that it will protect all your shiny new equipment, so when you get back from your trip you will have hundreds of fantastic photos and a camera that looks like it never left home.
  47. Yes, when I visited the USA on holiday I didn't have any problems, despite the high crime rate.
  48. I cannot say anything for Mexico (as I haven't been there with an expensive camera - just my ancient fully manual, film Minolta), but Italy is pretty safe, don't worry, especially Rome (even though I wouldn't say the same for, say, Naples or Milan on a Sunday evening).
    In Mexico someone tried to mug me (actually there were two of them, one was a lookout), but they got more than they bargained for, as I sent one of them to the hospital (with the result of having to spent a wonderful 6 hours in a police station explaining the incident again and again and again and attempting to make the police officer understand WHY when someone brandishes a knife at you, breaking their arm and leg may be a justified responce!), but they simply asked for my money, no mention of camera or watch!
    Now in Italy, some pickpocket might go after your wallet or passport (if they are somewhere about your person in an easily accessible place), maybe an expensive ring or watch (and let me tell you, they can have those things off you without you ever understanding anything) but they have no interest in your camera(s) or lens(es). These are things they will have to try and sell, often for a couple (if they're lucky) hundred dollars and not really worth their time or the risk involved. I've travelled with gear costing over 15,000 euros (and displaying it, as it's hard to hide a couple of D3s with massive lenses on them, even if my camera bag is by trusty but WELL worn and beat up Domke which looks nothing like a camera bag) and nobody even turned to look twice. Imagine, there WILL be people like me walking around you in Rome and if someone wanted to go for a camera, they will be more prime targets....
    You'll be fine, don't worry...
  49. As an Italian who is very keen when traveling I can say "no problem at all touring Italy with your camera". Just use the common sense in the big cities (Milano, Roma, etc). I can't speak about Naples (never been there) wich is considered quite dangerous for tourist even if my friends from Naples say it is not true. Anyway I would pay more attention there and in the biggest cities in the south (Palermo, Bari)in general, even if i went there many times (Sicily is wonderful) with non problem. Traveling in the other parts of italy is very safe, no problem lugging around your camera but do not leave it unattended and do not leave it in the car (but this is common sense).
  50. I have yet to figure out how to take a "decisive moment" shot when my camera is in a bag or hidden under my clothing.
  51. Questions for those who suggest home or travel insurance.
    - Does the home insurance cover damage or loss that occur away from home?
    - What damage or loss proof is required for a claim?
  52. it


    But don't wear it around your neck or you will look like a tourist. Wear it over your shoulder.
  53. Wow, thank you so much for all of the responses. I feel pretty at ease right now about traveling with my equipment and I will wear it around my neck. I know that I will be with someone almost 100% of the time and awareness and common sense with surroundings is the biggest thing. I'm just going to make sure I get insurance specifically for it, and hopefully nothing goes wrong! If it does, I DO have a couple of backup cameras that are still pretty good. I am so excited!! I can't wait to go out and take pictures :-D
  54. Where are you going in Mexico? As long as you are not going by the Texas/Mexico border (not advised at any time), you should be fine. I've been going to Mexico frequently for the last 20 years with no problems at all. Most of the time, I travel alone. I hate carrying a camera around my neck so I've switched to the Spider Holster. You can lock the camera in to place so no one can grab it and run off with it OR use this feature while you are hiking or scrambling over rocks so the camera stays secure. I use the Spider Holster because it suits me (not because I'm afraid of crime). I use it no matter where I go to shoot. For more info go to
    FYI, statiscally Mexico's tourist areas are some of the safest places in the world to travel to. As with anywhere in the world, you'll want to be smart about not flashing expensive jewlery and be aware of your surroundings just like you would if you were walking downtown Seattle or Chicago. In 2010 over 23 million tourist went to Mexico for vacation. No tourist has been injured in the drug related violence that you see reported on the news. The new stations don't bother to tell you that! All they want to do is create fear and hype so they will get viewers.
    Enjoy your trip. You can see my most recent Mexico photos from Cancun and from the Riviera Maya by doing an internet search for my name. (I don't think I'm allowed to post the website here)
    Julie Roggow
  55. Dangers Lurk in Some Spring Break Destinations

    By Mary Quinn O'Connor
    Published March 02, 2011
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    In the minds of most college students, spring break means excessive binge drinking, the occasional blackout, and sex with strangers.
    That’s scary enough for some on U.S. soil.
    But what happens in a foreign country, where spring-breakers can easily get mixed in with common drug violence, or be abducted? According to the State Department, about 100,000 spring breakers will travel to Mexico and “the vast majority” will enjoy their vacation at the destinations listed here.
    But perhaps not everyone.
    “Several may die, hundreds will be arrested, and still more will make mistakes that could affect them for the rest of their lives,”according to the State Department.
    Acapulco, Mexico: A popular spring break destination off Mexico’s Pacific Coast, drug cartels have turned Acapulco into Mexico’s most violent resort city. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw warns American tourists that “various crime problems exist in many popular resort areas, such as Acapulco, and crimes against U.S. citizens often go unpunished.” The Mexican government’s official accounting of drug cartel-related deaths in Acapulco jumped to 370 in 2010, up 147 percent from 2009. Rival drug cartels have battled police and each other within the city, as well as in nearby towns. Suspected drug traffickers continue to attack police in the adjacent resort area of Zihuatanejo.
    Jamaica: The two international airports in Jamaica, Kingston and Montego Bay, have experienced regular violence, including shootings. In many popular resort areas, such as Negril, you should be safe as long as you are on resort soil. But once you step off resort property lines, all bets are off. According to a spring breaker who traveled to Negril in March 2010, “there is literally a line where you can see the sand changes color. Once you go into that different color, you are off the resort property and locals can come up to you and offer you drugs and other services.” Even on resort property, there have been instances of sexual assault on U.S. tourists, some by resort staff. It is important to keep in mind that law enforcement is understaffed and ineffective in most areas of Jamaica, so sexual assault, drug trafficking, theft and violence receive little to no attention.
    Cancun, Mexico: A typical spring break hot spot, Cancun attracts more than 100,000 U.S. college and high school students, not only for its beautiful beaches and world-class resorts, but because MTV began filming annual spring break shows there. “We get a lot of people traveling to Cancun, but Mexico is the place with the most [safety] uncertainty,” said Tom Crosby, AAA's vice president of communications. Because of Cancun’s growing population, crime is becoming more prevalent. Ross Thompson, co-founder of travel safety company Mayday360, says that the biggest danger for spring-breakers in Cancun is that they “act like they are still in the U.S. and that the U.S. law will protect them. That’s wrong and that can add up to disaster,” said Thompson. According to the U.S. State Department, “rape commonly, but not exclusively, occurs at night or in the early morning hours, and often involves alcohol and the nightclub environment.” Aside from violence and crime, Cancun’s strong undertow presents another danger. The undertow stretches along the beach from the Hyatt Regency all the way south to Club Med and, already this season, several U.S. citizens have drowned because of the ocean conditions.
    South Padre Island, Texas: Right here in the U.S., South Padre Island is a relatively safe vacation destination, provided you don’t stray too far south. Just 30 minutes away are two major Mexican drug trafficking hubs, Matamoros and Nuevo Progresso. Gangs are constantly competing for control of narcotics smuggling routes, which can be very dangerous for U.S. tourists traveling just south of South Padre Island. It long has been the practice of adventurous vacationers on the south end of South Padre to take advantage of the inexpensive alcohol and lower drinking age south of the border. Ongoing gang wars and firefights are expected to persist in the Matamoros area, into and beyond the spring break season.
    Mazatlan, Mexico: Mazatlan, located just a few hundred miles north of Puerto Vallarta, has been perhaps the most consistently violent of Mexico's resort cities during the past year. It is located in Sinaloa state, home of the country's most violent cartel, the Sinaloa Federation, and bodies of victims of drug cartels and kidnapping gangs appear on the streets there on a weekly basis. “Underestimating the violence in Mexico would be a mistake for parents and students," said McCraw. "Our safety message is simple: avoid traveling to Mexico during Spring Break and stay alive."
  56. John,
    What the article is not saying is most of the Spring Break crime and violence is perpetrated by the tourists themselves, not the locals! Before pointing fingers at Mexico, Jamaica, or anywhere else in the world, maybe you may be interested in checking out the crime statistics in Detroit, Miami, Tampa, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Paris, Venice.... Statistically, the tourists areas in Mexico are very safe places for vacations.
    23 million tourists went to Mexico last year and not one tourist was injured in the drug related violence you are seeing reported in the Texas/Mexico border towns which comprise almost all of the reported incidents. Creating fear and hype without a factual basis makes no sense!
    Spring Break students need to accept responsibility for their own actions.
  57. I just keep an updated customs declaration form you get from the nearest customs desk..In the international departure area of the airport. Also located by cruise ship docks and at all border crossings..You fill out form list cameras w/ serial No.'s, any expensive lenses also w/ SN. You can also list jewelry and Ipods/phones etc.. After the customs officer verifies the form they draw a highlited line through the listings and sign the form.. I always make a couple copies of the form keep original in camera bag, one in your moneybelt (ALWAYS WEAR A MONEYBELT!!) another in your homes important papers file .. You only need show customs that form to prove you own the items on the form..If gear lost or stolen you'll have needed insurance info in your files.. Been to China, Italy and Costa Rica in the last 5 years and have always traveled alone and never a problem anywhere.
    Have fun and stay aware of your surroundings, people ..Rule of thumb NEVER FLASH lots of cash..Only carry the money you expect to spend during any outing, you can always use a locked bathroom/stall to take more from your moneybelt..
  58. david_henderson


    Peoples attitudes to risk differs Some always look for a justification not to do something, others look for a reason to do things regardless. A couple of things strike me as being obvious.
    First, Mexico will get a lot of tourism this year; a large majority of these tourists will have a great time and get back without being exposed to danger. Governments are not recommending against travel to Mexico; they are recommending that particular behaviours and particular locations are avoided. If you search hard enough you will find someone, some authority, to tell you that you shouldn't go. Meanwhile when a body like our FCO in the UK doesn't discourage, and the reality is that if you cancelled a trip you'd booked for Mexico an insurer would simply deem it disinclination to travel and fail to pay out.
    Second, the OP has agreed to cover the wedding and so she should go unless the situation in Mexico changes much for the worse in the meantime.
    Third if you go then reality is that you should carry a camera how you want in the context of how you'll be likely to use it. If you aren't prepared to do that then maybe you shouldn't be going. Personally I don't carry a camera round my neck but that isn't a safety worry- I'm worried about the style police, and I don't wear photo vests for the same reason. You can never guarantee the good behaviour of 50 million Italians or 100 million (?) Mexicans or for that matter 10 million Londoners or a few million Parisiens. Just stay alert, look like you belong, and when cogent sources tell you that the lobby of a Grand Hyatt is a safer place to be after midnight than a chicken bus between two cities, then listen.
  59. I got jumped by three pre-teens one time in Durban South Africa at 11 AM on the street, also full of other people. The rule in the US is that if the streets are full of people in a business area, there's not much risk. Depends on the level of poverty. Even a cheap P&S would look good to someone who knows nothing about cameras. One went for the wallet in my front pocket (never put it in the rear pocket), one went for the othe pocket with the handkerchief, and the 3rd went for my camera. But as the guy said up above, "I always preferred to carry my camera on a shoulder strap bandoleer fashion," which is what I was doing. That means over your shoulder and your neck, so it's harder to pull off. I spun away reflexively when the three hit at exactly the same time. The camera kid failed to get it loose, the wallet guy failed to get into my front pocket, but the handkerchief guy was a success. They were pure hit and run. So, off they went, assuming that no one would chase them. The joke is, of course, that there's no way I would want to fight with three kids on the street in any country. If they had just faced me and asked for the camera and wallet, I probably would have given it to them. And I'm about 6' 6" with shoes on! That's suppose to make them all shy too. Don't count on it. So, unless you're using the camera, keep it over your shoulder and neck, and if walking a lot I always put the camera in a small bag, also over my shoulder/neck. The real bottom line is, however, insure all your camera gear so that when any is stollen you get to replace it with brand new equipment. That thought will make your trip very merry indeed. By the way, I only had this happen once in 30 years of traveling and working around the world. It's only good for an occassional story.
  60. Of the 195 countries in the world Mexico would not rank high on places to keep your camera out
  61. Get insurance and get over it.
  62. Insurance is a foolproof way of losing money. You pay for a limited possibility to get paid part of what you lost under some limited circumstances. The insurance companies make money, and you are sure to lose money in the long run.
    The only time insurance makes sense is if it is a matter of something you absolutely need and an amount you would not be able to pay from your savings.
    House insurance? Yes, I would not be able to buy a new one, if my house burnt down, and I need somewhere to live, so insurance makes sense. Car insurance? Yes, if I am involved in an accident, I cannot exclude that the damage will be so big that I cannot pay for it myself.
    However, for camera gear a) I could survive without it if it got stolen, b) I could pay to replace it with my savings. There is absolutely no reason why I would ever get any dedicated camera insurance.
    The only reason I can see to insure your camera gear is if you depend on it, for example if you are a professional photographer, and you are too poor to replace it if you lost it.
    Otherwise, just live with the risk and save your money.
  63. I was once a Mexico aficionado and since I live rather close to the Mexican border at San Diego, I spent many happy days in Baja California. My son-in-law lived in Baja for several years and sold property down there. We both speak Spanish quite adequately.
    However, neither of us will cross the border until the violence of the drug wars ceases. Although I love Mexico and the Mexicans, I consider it too dangerous to travel there.
    And this is from a guy who was a combat camera man in Vietnam!
    The two safest countries for a tourist are China and Japan (nuclear threat, earthquakes and tsunamis excepted). I would walk virtually anywhere in those countries day or night.
    In Europe, I would simply use my intuition and good sense. I would not walk into any type of environment in which I would not feel comfortable in the U.S.A.. This includes rough areas and deserted areas. I would also not ever follow any person who pretends to want to guide you to a "great place for photos" or a "great place for shopping".
    I would not place my camera or camera bag on a seat next to me or on a table in a sidewalk restaurant without having the strap connected to me in some way. A good way to carry camera equipment is in an insulated bag meant for food. The likelihood that a snatcher will rip off a bag which may contain an apple and a ham sandwich is (IMO) rather small.
    A standard procedure for the rip-off artists in Naples, Italy (mostly young kids) was to hit your shirt pocket hoping to pry loose some cash or other valuable articles. They were experts in catching the items mid-air and beating a hasty retreat.
    Two precautions that I will usually take when traveling ANYWHERE. I don't carry a wallet and I do not display large quantities of cash. I carry my passport, one credit (not debit) card and the majority of my cash in a pouch around my neck under my shirt where it is not visible. I have a small leather pass case in which I carry small denominations of local currency and that goes in the front pocket (rear pockets are too vulnerable) of my trousers. I replenish the ready cash from neck pouch to pass case in an area such as a men's room where my cash is not obvious. I also like to wear a vest when traveling... I can carry the camera over my shoulder but, under the vest for security. Also having so many pockets (my camera vest probably has over 20-pockets) a pick pocket might be confused.
    In order to foil a "cut and run" thief, take a look at this camera safety strap which incorporates a metal reinforcement making it impervious to cutting.
  64. Just to put it in context, you should probably behave more or less as you would at home. Obviously, the US has extremely high crime rates, so if you continue to take the precautions that you would take while in the US while you're abroad, you should be OK (though nothing is ever guaranteed, anywhere).
    There are one or two 'buts' to this. One is that there may be particular thieves who target tourists specifically, on the basis that tourists tend to be carrying amounts of cash around, and maybe less aware of the nuances of their environment. So try not to look too lost and vulnerable. Just behave like a normal human being and blend in. The other thing is that as a tourist, you may be faced with a choice of whether to carry items like laptop with you, or leave them in hotel room. Hotel rooms are probably the most vulnerable place you can leave items, they're much more likely to be nicked than if you have them with you on the street. So don't take so much stuff that you are forced to leave loads in your room, and the stuff that you do leave behind, check it into the hotel safe at reception.
    To put it in context, I lived in Russia and Poland for around 13 years, and spent much of that time wandering round with expensive cameras on my shoulder, and more goodies in bags on my shoulders. I didn't have a problem, and don't recall feeling threatened, and perhaps stupidly didn't feel the need to bother with insurance either. I had a bad habit of forgetting bags full of cameras in public spaces, like cafes. Once I left a bag full of Nikons lying by a pillar at the main entrance to Moscow airport, where all the taxi drivers tout for business and with thousands of people walking past. I remembered it a week later, and it was waiting for me in lost property, all untouched. I also left cameras in four different bars in Poland, and they had always been handed in to the barman and were waiting for me behind the bar next day. Of course, I was lucky, and I don't recommend doing what I did, but I don't recommend being paranoid about 'abroad' either. Just use common sense, like you would at home.
  65. I have traveled a lot and typically in touristy areas so many people have nice cameras. Maybe just take the lenses you need for that day especially. Keep your bag closed and stay low key. Just have fun and be aware though that the gear is very expensive, and in areas such as mexico represent more than a years income. Be aware of this, but not afraid! Use your camera this is what you got it for!

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