I am thinking about safe travel and I would like to know how do you guys make sure you keep an eye on your bags at all times?? There is two of us so when crossing the border or waiting somehwere is fine but I am just worried about bus rides. Previously we managed to get the luggage with us on the bus but what if the driver insists to put it at the back?? Does it happen very often in SE Asia?? When we were in India they were filling every single space/sit in the bus so we had to really try hard to keep the luggage with us ;-)
Thanks for any stories and suggestions;-)
We've found that you usually have to put your big rucksacs in the boot of buses, or down the aisle. Either way it's not easy to keep them with you.
Don't keep anything of value in your big rucksacs. Just keep clothes, shoes and toiletries. Keep your dirty underwear at the top to discourage people from riffling through it. Keep everything of value in a small big with you and never let it out of your sight on transport. If you get off the bus at a break stop, take your small bags. Since there are two of you, you should keep different things on each of you in case something happens to one bag. That way if something does happen, you don't loose anything.
We've had people go through our bags on buses in Thailand but since we had nothing of value in them they soon moved on to someone else's bag and left ours.
The bottom line is, don't travel with anything that you really mind disappearing. All sorts of things can happen while you are travelling, just as they can when you are anywhere. If it is very important to you, don't carry it. Everything is replaceable afterall.
If you are carrying expensive electrical items, take out adequate insurance to cover them. Remember that there is usually a maximum price per item for general travel insurance so if you are carrying a netbook, ipod/phone or camera, it might not be covered.
Like above post says keep your valuables with you at your seat or within sight. This also means any prescription meds, eyeglasses, definitely your passport and cash of course. Have bags that you can lock.
When I have read about theft from bags or other bus related problems it has just about always been buses booked from Khao San Road travel agencies. Some of the stories have been bags rifled through by persons hidden in the baggage compartment, hold ups and frequent breakdowns. When you need a bus ride get it from a real bus station in person even if you have to spend a few baht more.
I try to sit on the side of the bus where the access door for the under bus storage area is located. Sometimes buses stop along the way to drop off passengers - keep an eye out to see if anyone walks off with your bag at one of those stops.
You can start with keeping to a minimum the valuables you take with you on a trip. If you have a special keepsake or expensive Rolex maybe leave them home would be a better option.
Thanks a lot for the above ;-) How about all the stories when people put drugs in your bags etc. I guess covering the bag with the waterproof cover and locking it is a solution;-)
Hal is right. The experiences and stories I've heard about problems with bags have all been from tourist orientated companies. We've never had any problems on public buses. In fact, these are the best way to travel. We've done many journeys where we have been the only westerners on the bus and been looked after by Thais who don't really speak English but want to look after us. Once we were on a full day journey with a stopoff for a free meal and we got taken to the table with a Thai family and fed.
The bus from Khoa San to Siem Reap is the most notorious for bag problems. Do the journey by public bus. The second it the one to the islands. Again, go by public bus or train.
I've never heard of people having drugs put in their bags, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
"How about all the stories when people put drugs in your bags etc. "
This "story" comes up every now and then. If you travel with your buddies who are dopers you can expect that in order to avoid getting caught by the police these same buddies would store their drugs in your bags! Never trust a doper!
There are some stories where girlfriends are serving time for drugs their boyfriends put in their bags.
Keep an eye on your bags when traveling. If your best friends are dopers then expect that they will hide their drugs in your bags!
Don't travel with dopers! Before you have your bags checked going through airports examine them for any contraband. Keep your bags locked!
The police do not have to set up anyone because most of the dopers do something stupid to make it easy to get caught! There are spot drug checks in some clubs popular with the younger Thais and tourists. Getting set up with drugs is usually something older tourists never worry much about.
If this is a big concern check your bags frequently and choose your friends wisely!
I live here in Thailand and never had any problems. Yes I keep the few important things with me in a little book pack but never had trouble with things undert he bus here, or in Vietnam, or Phillippines. Packing around on busses what could you really have of that much value anyways ?
Thanks everybody ;-) We would not have anything of much value but generally losing stuff would be quite disturbing I guess. So prefer to avoid it at any time ;-)
Just one more point in addition to everything above..
on some buses will you have to put your bag on the roof of the bus. Most of the time it's fine but on one journey Dale's bag actually fell off the roof, thankfully not down the 100ft drop but the other wide which was just into a ditch!
It was lucky we spotted it falling past our window and stopped the bus to retrieve it but it's always a good idea to get up there and double check they have tied your bag on properly before you set off. They are normally really careful it was just one time we didn't check that something happened which is our own fault.
We always used to try and get off the bus when they were unloading at various stops to make sure our bags hadn't been offloaded accidently along with some others.
We have "bags" for our backpacks.
Basically we sewed some thick cloth into a sac and pressed "rings" some at the top (the exact name of those rings escape me now, but they are clamped on through the fabric, like the holes for your shoelaces). Our bags fit snugly into them and we each carry a combination lock that has a 3 inch long steel cable instead of a rigid piece to close them shut. Whenever we have to check them in at an airport, leave at a dorm room/hotel or load them in the bus, we secure our bags. When not in use, they are folded in stored in the bottom of our packs.
It won't keep a thief with plenty of time and a blade from opening our bags, but it will certainly discourage any attempts. The access to the zippers is quite difficult for one to reach in. We even lock them together sometimes - running away with two bags is harder than one. It also protects the bag from damage at airports (or buses).
The one and only time we didn't use these sacks was after coming back from a week long trek in Nepal. The bus we took back to Kathmandu had also a leaking can of oil in the luggage compartment. My backpack was ruined for the rest of the trip, the oil soaked the back part of it and it would smear every shirt I wore until I decided to sacrifice 1 brown shirt to be used every time I had to carry the backpack. Problem solved back home after hours of scrubbing with some industrial strength detergent.
I also wait until the bus is loaded and luggage compartment is closed before heading back to my seat. During the trip it's hard to keep track, you might not be awake at every stop.
We put our rucksacks in burlap sacks (potato sacks) and tape them up on long journeys, not only does it protect your bag so many other people travel with their goods that way any potential thieves don't know whats in what but for sure no valuables below, keep them on your knee, happy trails