Europe is perhaps the best vacation destination in the entire world. It offers you a variety of cultures, landscapes and great people making it a trip of your lifetime. As long as you are well prepared for it, then you can expect nothing less. Part of being prepared is taking precautions by following specific safety measures. There are several things that you can do to ensure that you stay safe during your travel to Europe.
Escape Threats on the Street
Thieves have many ways to identify their victims, and you can bet that those in Europe are talented. If you are not careful, you can lose your stuff in a matter of seconds to thieves. While on the streets, be on the lookout for the following:
- Pickpockets; in major tourist destinations, pickpocketing is a common vice. Many travelers have their purses snatched, or their pockets picked. To minimize this threat, you should carry your valuables close to you. Put all your valuable items, money, credit cards, and passport, in a strong, below the belt security wallet. Avoid carrying your wallet in the back pocket and if you must wear a pouch above the belt, ensure that it is well concealed.
- Kids carrying cards; if a group of kids approaches, carrying a piece of board with some writing on it, be sure to walk away. They use the cardboard to distract you while they pick your pockets.
Maintain a Low Voice
When visiting Europe, you may want to lower your voice and try to blend in with the locals. This way, you can be less of a target for pickpocketing. This particularly applies when speaking on your mobile phone. Most people hardly realize that they are too loud when on a phone conversation to the extent of attracting attention. You will be risking your safety as you might be easily profiled.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
This applies mostly to times when you are taking pictures of landmarks. Most definitely, you are here to be awed by the scenario and capture it through photos. You can easily get carried away by the moment and forget about your surroundings. When taking pictures, ensure that all your possessions are well-secured on you.
Try to Dress Like a Local
If you are aware of the fashion and customs of the place you will be visiting, it is good that you dress like the locals or even buy small items to wear once you arrive. If you are a lady, take note of the fact that women from eastern and central Europe don’t wear shorts. To blend in, bring a skirt, and you will feel as though you belong. Also, ensure that you pack well for the season.
Ignore Offers by Strangers on the Streets
You should, by all means, avoid accepting offers for hotel accommodation, restaurants or bars, as well as currency exchange from individuals offering it on the streets or at a train station. These people are preying on unprepared or clueless travelers. It is always advisable that you read your guidebook before the trip and have an idea of where you can exchange currency, spend the night, or grab a meal. If you can’t find what you are looking for, seek help from a police officer or a respectable looking business.
Pay Attention at the ATM
Don’t let people behind you see you enter your PIN number, and avoid taking help from anyone. Europeans are generally helpful, but it is not likely that they will offer advice unless one is asked to help. So, beware of anyone offering you unsolicited help as most are scams. Be careful when choosing an ATM, the best option of course would be to look for ATM machines with atm security enclosures. However, as this is not always standard, it could be difficult to find one when you need to. In this case, make sure that when you do use an uncovered ATM machine, that you cover your pin yourself with your hand and take care of anyone standing behind you. One of the ways that they scam you is by putting a sleeve in the ATM card slot that blocks the card from being read. The scammer stands behind you as you try feeding in your PIN several times and eventually give up thinking that the machine has retained your card. Once you have left, they will retrieve the card and make withdrawals using the PIN you have provided them.
Be Less Flashy
When traveling to a new destination, it is always advisable that you dress in neutral colors rather than bold. Avoid standing out by dressing too flashy, hippy, or artsy. The airport has massive security measures in place, including random searches; you will want to avoid standing out of the crowd. You can also do away with hats and sunglasses. Dress like a local, and nobody will mark you as a tourist and prey for their scam.
Learn the Local Language
It is a good idea to learn a few local phrases before you get to your destination. The locals will appreciate your efforts in learning their language. While they will answer your questions in English, they will open up to you quickly if you can speak a few phrases of their language. You can take with you a phrasebook or a guidebook with several practical phrases.
Immerse Yourself in the Culture
Leave your home at home, and don’t expect to find every convenience and custom you are used to. You might not like the way things happen in your country of destination, but there is a reason as to why they are done that way. If you plan to drive whilst on your trip, you should familiarize yourself with the road and rules before you go (if you’re going to Iceland on your travels, Rent.is has some helpful guidance about driving there) so you have the best, and safest, experience on the road possible. Once you’re abroad, if you take the time to appreciate the new culture and just go with the flow, you will find out that there is plenty about the place(s) you are visiting that you will love. The best story you can tell about traveling is one that is filled with acceptance of the diversity of the human race and its cultures.