Watch a movie set in LA and you’ll see that it’s an action packed place to be. There’s all sorts going on and it attracts people from all over to jump on flights to Los Angeles for a taste of the action, or at least to see if it’s all true. Land in Los Angeles and there may be all kinds of fun sights and events going on around you. Sometimes you can get so caught up in the glamour that you don’t realize the sneakier elements up to dastardly tricks.

Here’s a little guide to being streetwise so you can enjoy that fun side of Los Angeles and avoid any nasty incidents:

You can use a credit or debit card nearly everywhere in Los Angeles, so you don’t need to carry large amounts of cash. Keep some form of ID with you at all times, and send photocopies of your ID to your email account so that you can access them in an emergency. Beware of pickpockets, especially when you are in a crowd: if you’re jostled or pushed, it might be a sign that pickpockets are at work. Carry your purse or bag under your arm, close to your body, and make sure it’s securely closed at all times. If you think you have been robbed, call out: it may deter the thieves.

In your hotel, use the door safety latches. When you go out, put your valuable items in the hotel safe, leave a light on in your room and put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. Disguise valuable items such as cameras in a different container, like a picnic bag or cooler. Don’t let any strangers come up to your room, however friendly they may seem, and don’t leave spare copies of your room key in your room when you go out. If someone comes to the door of your room and says they’re a member of staff, ask to see their ID, and phone the front desk to confirm this.

You may encounter homeless people who ask you for money. It’s up to you whether to give them any money or not, but if you don’t wish to, avoid arguing with them. Just apologize that you’re unable to help, and move on.

If you’re heading out for a glitzy night on the town, take your money in a purse or bag that is small enough to be worn on your person all the time. Don’t leave your drink unattended, and don’t drink so much that you become unaware of your surroundings (fun as that might be!).

When visiting Hollywood, you may be approached by scammers posing as talent scouts. They may well be genuine, but never go on your own to an audition arranged with someone you’ve just met. Look for them on the Internet and see if they check out. If you do, make sure someone else knows where you are.

Your vacation begins the moment you step off one of the daily flights to Los Angeles. The movies exaggerate some of the dangers of street life in Los Angeles heavily, but act streetwise yourself and you’ll be able to have a perfectly safe and enjoying trip.

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