For a thief, a water park is a great place to ply your trade. Think about it. People put all their valuables in backpacks and bags, and then leave them unattended. Parents are often too distracted by overactive kids to keep an eye on their stuff. And with so many people around, the chances of a bystander noticing you are slim.
Unfortunately, theft is risk you take whenever you go to a public pool or water park. And even if it doesn’t actually happen to you, having to worry about being ripped off can be a serious buzzkill when you’re trying to relax and have fun. Here are some tips to help you keep your peace of mind and your belongings:
1. Only bring the essentials
It might cramp your style a bit, but the best way to keep your stuff from being stolen is to not bring it in the first place. Pack only the cash you need for admission and snacks. Leave your Kindle or iPad at home in favor of a good old fashioned paperback. And, if you can handle being separated from it for a few hours, leave the cellphone behind. But whatever you do, don’t assume your valuables are safe in the car – the parking lot is almost as inviting a target for thieves as the water park itself.
2. Make use of lockers
Take advantage of locker rentals if the water park offers them. While not completely secure, lockers are the best option for keeping your stuff safe while you swim. Just be sure to keep the key close at hand.
3. If you’re staying at a hotel, use a safe
Typical travel advice is to keep irreplaceable items on your person at all times so that thieves (including, in some cases, hotel staff) don’t have a chance to take it from your room. Since that’s not going to work for visits to the water park, you might consider using a safe instead. Try to book a room that has one, or pick up a portable safe that you can secure to an immovable fixture.
4. Pick your seat wisely
If you have valuables in your bag, try to grab a table with a clear view of wherever you and/or the kids will be spending most of your time. Granted, this isn’t always possible if the place is crowded or you have a rambunctious kid on your hands. But if you can manage it, being able to glance over at your stuff every once in a while is ideal.
5. Take turns watching your stuff
Better yet, if you’re in a group, try to make sure someone is always at your table with the stuff (or at least watching it close by). Just make sure you’re crystal clear about who’s “on duty” at all times. A thief might case your table for some time waiting for the perfect moment to pounce.
6. Conceal valuables
Leaving cash or expensive items out in the open not only attracts experienced thieves, but could tempt people who wouldn’t normally steal something. Water parks are always filled with lots of children and teens who often don’t have very strong impulse control. Simply keeping your valuable stuff buried in your bag is enough to head off many potential thefts.
7. Use high-tech safeguards to secure your electronics
If you’re taking a smart phone or other device to the water park, consider changing your security settings so that the device auto-locks after an hour (or less) of not being used. That way, at least your data will be protected if someone takes the device. Also, look into apps that help you recover lost devices (for example, Apple’s free Find My iPhone app).
8. Keep your important stuff in a waterproof case
You can keep a small number of valuables on you (for example: key card, cash, cellphone) using a waterproof case. Of course, the catch is that you now have to make sure you don’t lose the case – which could be a challenge if you’re repeatedly flying through a body slide at high speed.
9. Visit a water park with a cashless system
KeyLime Cove and other water parks allow you to make purchases using the same wristband that grants you admission. While this isn’t yet a feature at most water parks, it’s expected to catch on in a big way given that there’s evidence that people spend more money when you make it so convenient for them. For water park goers, this seems like the perfect alternative to carrying around a wad of cash.