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Personal Protection/Safety while in Europe?

It has come to this as I am planning to tour Europe: "What personal protection/safety tools can I use in Europe?" Knives, batons, pepper spray, clubs, bricks, stones, sticks?

It is incredibly sad to see Europe that I knew in my childhood days turn into a haven for scams, pickpockets, theft, etc. these days.

I had my own personal experience in Amsterdam onboard the train going to Schiphol Airport. A 2 man team distracted me and took my backpack. I managed to get my wits around me and realized quickly what had happened, and went after the man with my backpack to retrieve it (raised a lot of ruckus, and yelled to attract attention).

I'm not interested in "be trusting and enjoy your time" type of advice, as that clearly isn't the experience I am starting out with. Yes, I have Rick's traveling silk money belt :-)


Posted by
8985 posts

I personally don't think tourist related crimes has gotten any worse over the years. Anywhere you travel around the world, there will be tourists carrying large amounts of cash and expensive toys like cameras-cell phones-laptops, there will be thieves trying to steal them. Theft has been around since the beginning of time will around well past our lifespans. My personal strategy when traveling is to follow Rick's money belt advice, not dress like a tourist, and don't bring anything from home I'm not willing to loose. It's worked well for me, I've traveled overseas four times a year for the past ten years and haven't been robbed once.

Posted by
1568 posts

There are personal alarms that you may attached to the strap of your backpack. When the pin is pulled it makes a high piercing noise. They are sold at Lowes and other places or check the web.

Posted by
808 posts

Consider taking a self-defense class. Become more physicaly active if you aren't already. Traveling can be exhaustive with more physical activity than your usual everyday routine.

Pay special attention to your diet. Be sure to keep nutritious snacks on hand to keep your energy up. Stay hydrated. Gotta keep that fire burning...

Take at least an emergency related First aid course. Have your travel partner take one, too. Emergencies can and do happen, even while we are on holiday.

Beware the helpful stranger or the stranger needing your help. Check out the scams section of this site. Check out my post under "Seeking Medical Help". Flight Crew experienced this first hand.

So rather than knives, batons, pepper spray, clubs, bricks, stones, sticks, I'd say pack some skills! They don't weigh much and could help save your life!

Safe travels!

Posted by
705 posts

I agree with Michael, I don't think things have changed that much. Also agree with the other points he makes. Being aware of your surroundings is essential. I always try to look as though I know exactly where I am going and walk with purpose. I never carry a backpack but then I have the option of a purse, to me it screams tourist. Not sure what else you could use though. I travel twice a year and always alone as my vacation time is tacked onto my business trip and I have never had a problem either. Maybe I'm lucky though.

Posted by
221 posts

my two oldest sons did quite a bit of traveling while in their early 20's and had two really good tips. First of all, the buddy system. One person stays put with the stuff while the other goes to the toilet, ticket counter, registers at the hotel whatever. Second, when on a train, take a carabiner (it is metal so you would have to hand it through the security check) and clip your bag to the luggage rack above you on the train. It will at least keep someone from a quick grab. And for young people, be careful at clubs and over drinking, watch out for each other and be smart.

Posted by
1455 posts

The only thing you can really do is be aware of your surroundings. I am a small woman and always have in the back of my mind that there could be a potential bad snatcher. With that being said, I keep my money close to my heart (literally), and avoid eye contact.

Being aware in Europe is just as important as being aware in the US. Don't walk down a dark alley, when returning to your hotel be aware of anyone behind you, and always know where you are.

On the train or subway, don't get pushed in the crowd. Assume that the door may close any time and someone can snatch your bag as it does. Do keep your items close to your person, and continually look around.

Lastly if you do have to bring stuff, and it gets stolen, hopefully its something you CAN live without.