I feel much safer in Europe than I do in some parts of the United States. On my first trip to Europe, I traveled solo and I felt completely safe for the entire trip. This is not to say that there are no security or safety risks when you travel to Europe.
I think as travelers we can be more prone to being victims of theft, scams and pick pockets. In my experience, I feel that as long as you use common sense and good judgement you should be okay. When all else fails, listen to your instincts. If a situation doesn’t seem right, then it probably isn’t.
Here are some main points that I have learned during my travels:
Keep your valuables Safe: Use a hidden security neck pouch or a money belt (I prefer the neck pouch) to keep your credit cards, ATM cards, money and passport in. When there is a safe in my hotel/apartment, I will leave my valuables there for safe keeping while I’m out sightseeing. Keep only a small amount of currency in your purse/wallet for daily uses.
I actually have a handbag that I can sling over my ahead across my body and during long travel periods, I will lock it and also put a lock on my luggage and hand-carry. When I’m sitting at a cafe or bar, I rarely take off my handbag and I never sling it on the back of my chair. It’s a bit uncomfortable at times, but it’s better than it being snatched away by a thief.
Luggage Locks: I have these loop style locks to use when securing my Luggage and Backpack. The larger loop lock can be used to secure my luggage on the trains and the smaller locks can be used to secure my luggage and backpack.
Pickpockets: Be aware of pickpockets on public transportation and crowded tourist locations. They are certainly aware of you. Be aware of who is standing close to you. If someone is standing right next to you on an empty bus, something is up. This actually happened to a tour mate during my last trip. She was pick pocketed by a man that stood next to her on a bus that we took to see the Trevi Fountain.
To Secure my coin purse (where I keep my daily funds) I use these Chum Keychain snaps. One is connected to my purse and the other is secured to my handbag or camera bag.
Create An Emergency Contact Sheet: In the event you should become a victim, you should create an emergency contact sheet which has all of your account information and bank contact phone numbers. You should also have Embassy information in all the cities and towns you will be visiting in the event you need to contact them in an emergency.
Make a Photocopy of Your Passport: I always take a photocopy of my passport with me and two extra photos in case my passport is either stolen or lost. I will also get the US Embassy location and contact information in case I need an emergency passport while traveling abroad.
What to do if You are Pickpocketed: You should definitely make a crime report of the theft listing all the information that was stolen. Contact all the banks to cancel the cards that have been stolen and arrange for a new card. This is the very reason why I travel with at least 2-3 ATM cards and Credit cards. In case one is lost or stolen. If your passport is stolen, you should have the information on what to do to replace it. Most likely it will be at the US Embassy which is why you need to have the contact information.
US State Department – Tips for Traveling Abroad
Rick Steves Website – Protecting your Belongings from Pick Pockets
Rick Steves Website: Outsmarting the Thieves