There’s nothing quite like a European vacation: The variety of cultures, landscapes, and people you encounter almost guarantees you’ll have the trip of a lifetime—as long as you’re prepared. And a big part of that preparation is following certain safety tips to feel secure wherever you may be.
Is Europe Safe?
Before you head abroad, educate yourself on any potential safety concerns in your specific destination. Although there was a spike in terrorist attacks in Europe from 2015 to 2017, it's generally a very safe place to visit. Factors like political stability, relatively low violent crime rates, and comprehensive healthcare make Europe a pleasant and safe destination for most travelers. However, petty theft and pickpocketing tends to be much more of a nuisance, particularly in Europe’s big cities.
Fortunately, this is something you can work to avoid. Thousands of tourists have great experiences every day with their travels throughout the region, and some basic preparation will help you do the same. Here are some of our top safety tips—and great gear—for protecting yourself while traveling to Europe.
1. Carry The Right Gear
Deciding what to pack for Europe can be challenging. Bring a money belt or neck wallet to actively protect your credit cards, cash, and identification when you’re out and about. A money belt that tucks into your waistband will make it so your credit cards and ID are out of the sight of peeping thieves, while a neck wallet will keep your important possessions within your own sight so no sticky fingers can sneak past your line of vision. For any valuables that may not fit in a slim belt or wallet, bring a day bag that has a lockable zipper on a compartment to keep everything as secure as possible (Aside from preventing theft, it’ll also help prevent things falling out of your bag when you’re not paying attention). When you’re in crowded areas, maintain a sense of awareness of your surroundings, and stay alert anytime there is commotion nearby — thieves often create a disturbance to distract you just long enough for them to swipe your stuff.
2. Prepare Yourself For Theft
Though the protective measures you take will hopefully keep you safe, it can’t hurt to prepare for the worst just in case—it’ll save you a lot of headache if you do have to bounce back from a robbery. Make copies of all the important documents you will be traveling with—passport, ID, insurance, vouchers, addresses, transportation tickets—and keep them separate from the originals while abroad so you’ll have backups and proof if needed. In general, it’s a good idea to leave your most valuable items at home, but if you do bring anything expensive (like jewelry or electronics) with you, take clear pictures of it all before the trip so you’ll have proof of value in the event you’ll need to make insurance claims later.
3. Be Strategic
When you’re in crowded areas, maintain a sense of awareness of your surroundings, and stay alert anytime there is commotion nearby—thieves often create a disturbance to distract you just long enough for them to swipe your stuff. And put that gear you brought to its best use: Wear your waist bag or backpack in front of you in extra busy areas so you’re fully aware of your belongings, and always have the zippers aligned to the top of the bag, where it’s obvious to others if someone is trying to reach in. Whenever you’re seated, loop the straps of your bag around chairs, arm rests, or—most effectively—your legs, making it harder for people to swoop by and run off with your things. Using a carabiner clip on to secure the straps of your bags to something stationary is also a great safety hack in Europe.
You don't have to be paranoid while traveling, but it's important to be aware and be prepared—especially if you’re traveling solo in Europe.. With the right gear and sensibilities, you can relax and have the trip of a lifetime.
Do you have any other safety tips for traveling to Europe? Be sure to check out these minimalist packing tips for traveling Europe by rail before you set off on your next adventure.
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
How to Properly Pack Your Passport
How to Plan an International Trip
What Luggage to Bring on Your European Rail Adventure?
Stash Waist Bag
RFID Blocker Money Belt DLX
RFID Blocker Neck Wallet