The whole idea of lounging around on the beach is to switch off and enjoy the sunshine. But the reality is that opportunistic thieves are on the lookout for unattended valuables, and it’s important to make sure you’re protected.
There are things you can do to keep your valuables safe on the beach, and high on the list is buying good travel insurance that protects you in the event of loss, theft or damage. But if you wander away from your valuables, you are likely to invalidate your policy. So what else can you do to protect your valuables at the beach?
1. Don't take them with you
We know that it’s hard to be without your phone, and in an increasingly cashless world, you might want to have your card on you too.
You might pass the time with a good book on an e-reader and provide the soundtrack with your iPod.
The problem is that none of these objects mix well with water.
So when you want to go for a dip, what do you do? The reality is that if you leave your valuables unattended, they may get stolen.
The best way to protect your valuables at the beach is not take them at all. Substitute your Kindle for a good, old-fashioned book and switch off completely from the digital world.
2. Find protection at the beach
Leaving your phone at home isn’t always a realistic option. If you’re away with someone else but go to the beach alone, you’ll need your phone to arrange when and where to meet up later.
Or you might just not be able to live without your music and your camera to show people what a sunny time you’re having.
Many resorts in more touristy places will run a locker service, where you can store your valuables safely at the beach and only for a small fee. This can free you up to take a dip on your own and not worry.
Bear in mind that asking a nearby bar to stash your goods isn’t the same thing and is more risky. Unless it’s someone you know and trust, this is best avoided.
If you are a person who needs their gadgets on them all the time, you might also want to increase your travel insurance to include a gadget cover add-on.
3. Bring a portable safe
Whether or not you’re going to spend time at the beach, having a portable safe abroad is always a good idea. Your accommodation may not have one, and it can give you peace of mind to know that you’ve done everything you can to protect your valuables.
Lots come in various disguises, such as books, which provide decent camouflage against would-be thieves. Others can look exactly like what they are – and these are better for leaving things in your room. Some simply look like elaborate wash bags.
4. Make life difficult for thieves
An anti-theft bag is a good investment for people who want to take a dip and don’t have any other option but to leave their valuables unattended.
Most models lock, are slash-proof and can be fixed to an object that a thief might not want to be seen dragging across the beach, like a sun-lounger.
Thieves at beaches are generally opportunists, and will look for unattended bags or moments where people aren’t paying attention, such as on their walk to the sea or while taking a nap. Always be alert, and if you are taking a nap, attach your bag to your arm or leg.
Remember that they will probably do their research, watching people’s movements and finding the easiest wins. Don’t make it easy for them.
5. Do shift work
All of the above points make the assumption that you’re travelling alone, but there aren’t a huge number of people who do beach holidays solo. The likelihood is you’ll be with someone. Take it in shifts to protect valuables on the beach while you each get time in the sea.
If there are other groups you know and trust then you could ask if they’d guard your things. Just make sure to be back before they decide to head off to the bar.
6. Waterproof your things
Dry bags are waterproofed so you can tether your valuables to your body safely while you swim. They come in various shapes and sizes, with some made just for a smartphone and others for all of your things.
Some also inflate and act as buoys should you want a break where your feet can’t reach the ground. Many are also brightly coloured so you’re easily spotted.
While inflated, they don’t act as much of a drag while you’re swimming. However if you wanted to dive deep, you might find there’s a limit.
7. Don't advertise your things
If you’ve got a bag in your hand and a towel over your shoulder, then anyone wanting to relieve you of your things can make a pretty safe bet you’ve got something valuable on you. If possible, you can wrap up your valuables in your towel so it seems that that’s all you have with you. This isn’t the same as protecting your valuables at the beach, but it helps the illusion that you’re travelling light.
There are drinks bottle disguises available, such as a Coke bottle that looks remarkably like the real thing. These open in half and can be used to stash small valuables, like your money, keys and cards. If you can do without your phone, then this is a good way to hide smaller things in plain sight.
8. Bury your treasure
As an extreme option, if you’re on a sandy beach and have a plastic bag, you can wrap up your valuables securely and bury them under your towel. Needless to say, this is the least ideal option as they are still liable to be found and run the extra risk of being damaged by errant grains of sand (we know how it gets everywhere).
The act of burying something on a beach is quite conspicuous. But, if you’re caught out, then it’s better than leaving them exposed.
9. Get creative
Be alert to trustworthy establishments on the promenade. The bar made out of driftwood and corrugated iron might not be a good call, but the four-star hotel might. If you can set up camp within a short walk of somewhere trustworthy then you can ask the concierge to look after your things.
If you’re not a guest then there’s a chance they will refuse, but it’s worth a shot if you’re low on options.
10. Be visible
Virtually all well-managed public beaches will have a lifeguard. If you can set yourself up in his or her line-of-sight, you stand a better chance of deterring any local thieves. While their main job is to save people from drowning, they are also there to deter thieves and help keep your valuables safe at the beach.
The logic extends to other people. While you might be at the beach for some peace and quiet, if you are visible to a good number of people then thieves might not want to risk making a move. The centre of a more populated area rather than its edges will be safest.
For any beach holiday, travel insurance is a must. As well as the risk of losing your valuables, you could also suffer an accident from a water sport or get sick from a dodgy prawn. If you make sure you know what you’re covered for, then travel insurance can help you have a lot more fun.