Before I left for Paris I was getting stressed out about so many things. Getting pickpocketed... getting money (before, or after?!)... and now that I'm here, I'm just laughing at myself. I made it to Paris and lasted a week so far without having anything stolen from me. I walk around at midnight and the only people I run into are very friendly Parisians. My friend who lives here has never had any problems. As for money, I was concerned about whether or not i should get travellers checks, or if I should get euros before I got here.... blah blah. But I'm doing fine without doing either of those! I took out a little money from the ATM when I got to town, use my debit card and that money... don't know what I was worried about. I was also worried about the moneybelt thing. I have one but I forgot to bring it. But now I realized I'd probably just look silly. I've been trying not to draw attention to myself as a foreigner. So far, so good, I guess... The only thing I've done wrong so far, I think, is not having very good walking shoes!! So there's my two cents... :-)
I think what everyone is worried about is fear of the unknown. I felt scared before going to Italy; I was sure I would be robbed &/or mugged, at least. Instead I felt safe wherever I went. I rarely go out alone after dark, and I never drink so much as to feel drunk. My shoes are comfortable for walking, and my wardrobe is simple. I travel with one carry-on size bag plus a small purse and keep thinking of ways to lighten up even more. I have fallen off curbs twice and both times people rushed to help me. When traveling, often things do not turn out as planned. That can be stressful or part of the excitement of traveling (for me, it is usually both).
Kendal, I'm glad things are going well for you. I don't know if fear is the word I would use -- prepared makes many feel better. I've traveled off the cuff many times and love that, but sometimes you need to be prepared for a variety of reasons. Also, I believe in any large city in Europe caution is wisdom. I'd been to Europe 4x before being pickpocketed in Rome, then on the same trip someone tried to get into my mother's purse in Lodon (both wearning our important stuff under our clothes). We've had things taken, mostly by our own lack of caution. In Paris I had a student get cornered in the Eiffel Tower elevator. If one of the other girls hadn't noticed I'm pretty sure she would have lost something. Have fun; don't worry; be wise.
I think what you say is true....but at the same time it is important to be aware.
I think for people's first time away I can understand the fear, especially when they read things on sites that stress security ect. While in reality most places are very safe but it depends on where you are traveling as well.
The key I think for anyone traveling is to take certain precautions, and just always be aware of what is going on around you.
Glad to hear it Kendal. I travel alone to Italy and New York every year and have never had problems. I must admit I'm a little more cautious in New York. I never wear a money belt just my purse with some cash and one credit card to use in shops and ATMs. I think a lot has to do with attitude and being sensible.
I'm a little stressed because my daughter who is 17 and traveling by herself is going to Switzerland. Talk about loss of parental control! She is fairly naive too about worldly ways. But your posts are so true about the unknown. I know that she will do well in Switzerland for three weeks traveling all over! She has an adult Swiss female friend who will be with her so I guess she really isn't alone. But as a parent, I guess she is still a little vulnerable girl to me. I know that she will come back more self-confident. Prepatory anxiety can be such a waste of energy....
Switzerland is one of the safest countries in the world, don't worry. She will learn how to be self-dependent. Just make sure she understands what the guys in the park behind Zürich main train station are selling are no spices...
Joe, if it makes you feel any better, I'll be 25 when I embark on my trip this summer and my parents are also freaking out, telling me which cities I should "stay away from" etc. I'm sure your daughter will be fine, especially if she's traveling with a local who you know and are comfortable with.
Think of it as preparation for when she goes away to college.... ? :)
Debra - Ha Ha! Reading your post, I have to wonder how many Europeans have had their friends and relatives tell them to not go to LA (Watts, Compton, Rodney King) or my Chicago (Al Capone and all of the gangsters). You've got the right attitude.
Hehe. True. I wonder what they say about our cities. I've been in Los Angeles for 6 years and the only time I've been robbed was at a party (we think the catering guy took my purse).
Switzerland.... sounds great!
I usually travel by myself. Have been to Europe about 15-20 times. Once my wallet was taken out of my purse. That's it. I take precautions & always feel safe. But I do protect important items with a moneybelt. If I lost my ATM card at home, I'd just report it & wait for another. What would I do in Paris if I lost it? Report it, yes, but then what would I live on. I depend on an ATM for all my expenses so I take care of it.
I too have chuckled at the level of concern some have had before travelling, and even while there (Led a group of Rick Steves fans that I met on the train through Naples Terminal because they were concerned) While I have never felt unsafe anywhere in Europe, I think Roses point is well taken, while travelling, one has more to lose (and is more of a target) than a local. A traveller usually has more cash and is more disoriented than others. I as a traveller have major problems, or at least a bummer of a vacation, if I lose my passport, credit card, ATM, airline ticket, rail pass, etc...all a minor inconvienance for a local to replace, big problem for me. So certainly do not stress about the possibilities, but do take reasonable precautions to protect your vacation.
After reading all the state department warnings, I foolishly left the car window open and at a stop light near Pompeii a hand reached in, stole my camera off my lap without ever touching me! He jumped onto a waiting scooter and was gone. Beating myself up for losing the camera, I noticed a Fiat billboard with a handsome, smiling Italian. I think it translated, "They stole my car, but not my smile". I prayed for peace and decided, they stole my camera, but not my vacation. We loved Italy!