Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Barcelona and Mobile World Congress – the bad and the ugly and how to avoid it

As much as I love the city, and I really do, I know it’s notorious for pickpockets and thefts. Too many of my friends have experienced this first hand…. like a friend of mine who had her laptop bag stolen and the thief called her up and ransomed it to her for 100 Euros. Or the fact that several of my male friends have had their wallets nicked when distracted by girls flirting with them. Or my pal who was beaten up for his laptop & wallet near La Rambla and ended up in casualty. Or the time when a group of colleagues all used the official cloakroom on site at La Fira during Mobile World Congress when going into a seminar. When they came to collect their bags and coats, they were all there, minus the laptops. Or the time in the expensive, fancy restaurant where a friend had his laptop stolen from under his chair whilst he was sitting on it. Or the one I’ve literally just heard about where they had a load of stuff stolen from their apartment by the ‘welcome’ guy – they got everything back when they challenged him, but even so…

I am so very thankful this hasn’t been my personal experience. Nevertheless, I take precautions and I am vigilant (and this applies to London, Barcelona, Rome, wherever).

Anyway, my advice is

  • don’t carry a laptop or any valuables with you if you don’t need to. If you do bring a laptop, make sure it’s backed up and secure with relevant passwords or whatever so that if it got lost, stolen or damaged, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.
  • Don’t keep all your money together in one place. Use zipped pockets for your wallet and passport in your bag. Or a hidden money belt. Don’t carry more cash or credit cards than you need.
  • Use your hotel or apartment safe if there is one.
  • Leave the grey suit, the tie and the formal laptop bag at home. Avoid bringing your laptop to any of the networking parties *if* you can.
  • Tuck your MWC pass inside your top or jacket when you leave La Fira.
  • Have a spare phone and Pay as you go SIM just in case your main phone gets stolen.
  • Back up your phone to your laptop and also to an online service like Synkia (my personal preference as it also stores my SMS), to Mobyko, Zyb, or whatever your preference so you can still access your numbers and transfer them if you need to.

And on top of this, it’s worth reading this blog post about what to avoid.

If you have any tips to share, please comment away and let’s avoid having a nasty experience mar what can be one of the most fantastic weeks of the mobile year.