I always get really excited when travel plans for Europe come up. Europe, hands down, is my favorite continent to travel to. You can literally travel to 44 countries with ease thanks to the rail system and the affordability of flights. Europe gives travelers so much culture and history when you travel anywhere throughout the continent. And yet with all of the amazing takeaways, there is a super disappointing fact about many locations in Europe, there are a sh*t ton of pickpocketers. You literally see signs on every form of public transportation, in restaurants and even hotels. But fret not! Your travel bestie is here with tips to avoid pickpockets in Europe.
Tip 1 KEEP YOUR PERSONAL ITEMS CLOSE
This tip is pretty self-explanatory but definitely has some layers to it that will help keep any traveler safe. It’s not enough to just hold your things nearby these days. When navigating through a foreign place, you never know what sort of tricks a thief could have up their sleeves. I always use my go-to of carrying my bags in a cross-body position. Using the cross-body method protects you from having a sticky finger passerby from snatching it off of your shoulder. I sometimes even take it a step further when traveling during the winter months by putting my bags underneath my clothes. If someone goes through the troubles of snatching anything from under my clothes, I probably wasn’t going to be able to keep it from them no matter what I did.
Another way to keep your personal items close and out of a thief’s reach is by using the baby position. Carrying your bags this way may not be the most comfortable but it definitely proves to be one of the best ways to keep an eye on your valuables. Keeping your bags where you can see them means that nobody can attempt to pickpocket you without your knowledge when your attention is not fully focused on your items. And let’s not be the judgemental Judy and say “Why wouldn’t I pay attention to my stuff?” I mean, you are traveling, sightseeing, enjoying the moment right? Just don’t get caught up in the process.
Tip 2 KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING
Another simple tip that most people probably take for granted. In the digital era, our eyes are 50% or more into our phones, ESPECIALLY when we are traveling. Most of the time in our quest to find those perfect spots that we found on Instagram or link up with friends on streets that we can’t pronounce, we end up using our favorite maps app. In the event that you know that you will have to use the maps apps, think forward. I have always found that it is most beneficial to know where to go at least 5 minutes away from my hotel. Local thieves are predators and lurk around the areas where tourists frequent. If they spot you looking unaware of starting your journey, you could easily be the target of pickpocketing.
Sometimes, I even check what busses or trains I have to take before getting deep into my navigations. This just makes me feel a little more confident that passersby won’t target me or bother me once I enter any public transportation. And just note that this tip in no way is suggesting that you become a walking atlas, only that you stay present while traveling.
Tip 3 BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS
I’m pretty sure that the saying “keep your head on a swivel” was created by a victim of pickpocketing or theft. It’s not a literal tip, obviously, but definitely should be stretched to the imagination. During my last visit to Europe, I would look behind or beside me every time that I felt a brush across my back or shoulder. You just can never be too sure. To avoid potential theft it is best to be aware of what is happening around you, especially in unfamiliar places.
Locals often can spot a tourist or foreigner because we often make mistakes that your average local wouldn’t. For example, hanging around a part of town that is sketchy or giving out large amounts of cash versus smaller bills when paying for things. It’s best to always have your eye on the people around you. Not everyone means to do you harm, but in the event that you encounter someone that does. You should always be aware.
As I’ve traveled more I’ve learned a few ways to avoid what feels like an inevitable fate when traveling through Europe. I make sure to cover all bases because let’s be honest, I like my things and I want to keep them. Use these tips in your travels throughout the world and let me know how they work for you. You can even drop some of your favorite hacks in the comments.
P.S. One of the safest ways you can keep your valuables is by investing in a theft safe book bag. One with locks or not entry back is very useful. You can check out some that I have used in the past here.
Until next time,
Take the world!