Europe is relatively a safe travel zone – I can confidently say that after having traveled for years across Europe and not having encountered any unwanted incidents. But as with every place in the world, it does have its share of unruly characters and Thievery/Pick pocketing is quite common in the touristy areas. Even if you end up losing only a couple of hundred dollars, it still leaves you with a bad memory ruining your entire trip.
So here are a few tips to avoid such incidents and have a truly memorable holiday,
1) Theft is very common in heavily packed tourist areas. For Eg: at the Eiffel tower, Colloseum, Vatican etc. So avoid leaving your bag on the floor to capture that perfect shot or while waiting in a line, because before you know it, the bag would have disappeared. Make sure you have your hand firmly on your bag or your wallet at all times. Also, avoid carrying too many cards/cash with you – carry only as much as necessary.
2) Documents: Make sure you have scanned copies of your passport and insurance documents safely tucked away in your email/dropbox that is accessible from anywhere. Having them only on your laptop will not help if your laptop is back at home or stolen along with the rest of the items.
3) Display of wealth: It is best to leave that dazzling piece of jewelry or the expensive accessory back at home. Try to blend in with the locals – the way they dress (especially for women travelling alone) so that you don’t stand out in the crowd and become an easy target.
4) Hotels/ Hostels: It is best to leave your documents in the safe rather than in the room or in your bag especially if you are sharing your hostel room with strangers.
5) Distraction: It is a common trick in most of the cities (I have seen it happen a lot in Paris) where someone comes up to you with a ring or some other jewelry asking if you have dropped it. While you are inspecting the ring (and are distracted) his accomplice will swiftly take your wallet/purse and be off. It will be too late by the time you realize what has happened. So do steer clear of anyone who approaches you in this fashion.
If unfortunately, you do get robbed, the first thing to do is to approach the nearest police station and file a complaint. Even if it doesn’t get you back your stolen items, it is still important as it will help get your documentation re-done without hassle.