Europe is no safer and no more dangerous than any place you might visit in North America. However, this is not to say that you shouldnít take any reasonable precautions in order to minimize petty crime. Here are a few ideas to help minimize the possibility of theft or losses while traveling.
Do wear a money belt or a neck wallet inside of your clothes. This is a very effective way to keep your major funds, credit cards and passport safe. Nothing puts the brakes on a fabulous trip faster than losing your money. For ďappearancesĒ use a small cheap wallet in your pocket or purse with ten to twenty local dollars for quick purchases without having to go ďto the vaultĒ for everything.
Using an ATM? If you are traveling with another have them observe from a discreet distance and be ready to lend assistance if someone tries to relieve you of your funds.
And donít forget to shield the keypad while you type in your pin number, just as you would at home.
Wear cameras and shoulder bags with straps across your body, and with the item away from the street to help foil thieves on mopeds and bicycles.
On public transportation wear your daypack in front of you. This isnít just good safety practice, itís also more polite than thwacking fellow travelers with your overstuffed pack as you maneuver through tight spaces. You will also find it easier to navigate turnstiles with your pack ahead of you.
On trains, secure your backpack to the luggage rack by using the straps to ďlockĒ it into place. Using the straps will not prevent a theft but it may make another unsecured bag look more desirable.
When going through security checks make sure you keep an eye on your valuables. If you are taken aside for a more thorough check donít hesitate to tell the security officer that you want your bags kept in close proximity.
Donít assume that air travel is safe from thieves, donít leave items behind in your seat while you head to the lavatory.
When its time to deplane thoroughly search your seat area for items that may have slipped away from you. Check the seat pocket in front of you, under the blanket and pillow and especially under your seat.
To ward off unwanted attention donít dress to attract attention. Err on the side of caution and be a bit demure leaving the skimpy tank tops and short shorts for the beach only. A long, lightweight peasant skirt is a good alternative to slacks in summer heat.
Try not to travel alone. Being part of a group is almost always more secure.
Donít hesitate to speak up, loudly, if you find yourself being inappropriately touched, especially on public transit.
If possible donít carry anything with you that you canít afford or donít want to lose.
Do carry a photocopy of your passport, extra passport photos, and a list of telephone numbers to cancel credit cards and contact family members. Are you worried about losing the copies? Send yourself an email, before you leave home, with pdfís of all of the essential documents you might need to replace. If disaster strikes youíll only need to find an internet cafe to gain access to needed information.
Donít let a few safety precautions deter you from traveling. In fact, you might want to practice some of the ideas before you leave home to make you comfortable with changes to what you carry and how you carry it.