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Dare I ask this?

I know this subject is off the beaten path, but I sit here wondering the two questions that often come to mind when I read the boards. Perhaps someone has an answer as I'm curious to know.

Are Europeans ever a target of pick pocketing while in their own country?

Do Europeans care what they wear when traveling to another country?

Posted by
536 posts

Lori - The answer to both your questions is YES !!!
The Europeans don't get pickpocketed as often simply because they are not as easy a targets as many tourists.
They care about what they wear BUT they are not as obsessed about it as we are in the U.S.

Greg

Posted by
12040 posts

"Do Europeans care what they wear when traveling to another country?" A better question might be "Do they worry about looking like tourists?" Judging from my family and the Dutch that you see traveling throughout the continent, no, they wear something comfortable that is appropriate for the occasion or activity. A good basis for comparison would be to observe tour groups from other countries. With the exception of the kids (who tend to wear scarves much more frequently than Americans), you often can't tell where they're from until you hear the language. Everyone dresses similarly on vacation, but for some reason, only certain Americans seem to have a hang up about it.

Posted by
515 posts

Pickpocketers tend to steal from tourists because we have all the goodies in our daybags and purses and are too busy looking at the sites to notice we were robbed and they are so fast they are way gone before you even notice. Solve this problem by wearing a moneybelt.

Posted by
42 posts

I would sooner forget my toothbrush than my money belt, I never leave home without it. I've told people many times to wear a money belt when traveling abroad, unfortunately they usually don't listen.

I was simply curious if Europeans are ever a target of pickpockets, or if the nice Italian couple planing on visiting the States are concerned about blending in as not to stand out as tourist.

Posted by
10959 posts

Having worked with literally thousands of European, and non-European visitors to the U.S., I can honestly say most don't really care what they wear. They want to be comfortable. (And yes, I've seen my share of sandals and black socks.)

And BTW...they are easily spotted in the U.S. Why? because they look like we do when visiting their country: admiring the sights, camera bag or backpack in tow, holding either a guidebook or map, etc. And they are the targets of thieves in this country for the same reasons we are targets in theirs.

Think about it? If you live in a place that has major tourist sights are you going to be paying attention to them or are you going about your daily business?

Who dresses the worst when visiting the U.S.? Well, it depends on age. The older, in general, the better dressed. In terms of nationality: the Germans with the British being a close second. (Americans also tend to dress down and very comfortably when visiting other areas of their of own country.)

All of the above is for people visiting strictly for leisure purposes. On business, most visiting this country tend to dress very sharply. At worst, what we would call "business casual."

Posted by
337 posts

Pick pockets are opportunistic, they wait for easy victims. And of course that makes me as a "native" a bit less likely to be targeted.

For one I'm much less likely to be in a crowd than a tourist. A team of pick pockets would stick out like a sore thump in my quiet residential street for example. And it's pretty hard to pick my pocket while I'm sitting on my 5th floor balcony surfing the internet ;-)

But I don't think a pick pocket would refuse my wallet if I would e.g. leave it in my jacket hanging over a chair in the beer garden simply because I'm a Berliner.

Posted by
14780 posts

Oh, Frank II,

My observation is that American tourists dress the worst in America. All those XXXXXl bermuda shorts from Walmart.....

I was shocked the first time I visited a mission church in California. It was Sunday morning, and I was there during mass. Most of the people in the church were dressed as though for a private backyard picnic.

Posted by
8976 posts

I was shocked the first time I visited a mission church in California. It was Sunday morning, and I was there during mass. Most of the people in the church were dressed as though for a private backyard picnic.

Sadly I've seen similar things at funerals here in the US. I'm all for casual dress, but there should be a "line". We Americans have gotten a bit too casual in some ways.

Posted by
10959 posts

I was shocked the first time I visited a mission church in California. It was Sunday morning, and I was there during mass. Most of the people in the church were dressed as though for a private backyard picnic.

How do you know they were tourists? They could have been locals. I spent a couple of season touring California with groups and stopped at many of the remaining missions. Lots of people attending services were not tourists.

And now we're saying Americans shouldn't wear shorts in their own country?

Posted by
12040 posts

Anyone ever been to church in Hawaii? Shorts, sandals, mumus, and aloha shirts abound.

Posted by
71 posts

Once on another board I pointed out that I am not offended to see people from other countries walk around in my city in their customary dress looking like obvious tourists (say, a woman in a sari) so why are we so scared to do so in their countries? I was told I was a parochial rube.

I don't like to look like an obvious tourist either but I don't go to great lengths to dress just like the people in a given foreign city lest I be "found out". So many people seem to think it's rude to not dress like the locals. Outside of a church I don't really see how it's rude nor do I think dressing the part is going to fool anyone that I'm Parisian given that the jig is up as soon as I open my mouth. And the fact that I'm hanging out at the Louvre might be a tip-off, too. Maybe if I spent a lot of time in that foreign country it would be more important to me but I do think some people get a little too invested in the whole thing.

Posted by
79 posts

I've spent A LOT of time reading posts on this board as well as the Graffiti Wall and have concluded that the worry about what to wear in Europe is really stemming from the numerous reports of pickpockets and scam artists in Europe. So, perhaps Americans are concerned about being a target and are trying to find a solution/defense/security through the clothing they wear.

Yes, yes, I know, pickpockets exists and target tourists all over the world, but I can't help but notice how there are so many more reports about Paris, Rome, and The Continent in general compared to the UK. I think I've read all of 3 reports of pickpockets and/or scams in London.

And yes, yes, I know, if you act like a tourist, everyone will know no matter what you are wearing. I think at this point we need to start threads discussing tricks to not acting like a tourist.

Plan ahead. Study your map and where you plan to go before you leave your hotel. Fold the map so that you can easily see the part of the city you are planning to visit that day. Figure out surrupticious ways to peek at your map. The main thing I've learned, and I'm sure many people here know this, look and act like you know where you're going. In my experience, thieves or "bad guys" in general see any hesitation as an opportunity.

However, not everyone is adept at this surrupticious behaviour. Perhaps they've never been in a situation in which such behaviour has been necessary. Perhaps they just need stories of some of the tricks seasoned travelers have developed to not "look like a tourist." Otherwise, they may see "what they wear" as the only way to "defend" themselves from what seems like hords of scam artists and pickpockets that the countries of Europe let run wild.

Posted by
14780 posts

The only way to not look like a tourist is to not act like one. And for most tourists the point of going somewhere is it see it, to GAWK (never mind the camera). That's how they spot the tourists in NYC - they are the only ones looking up at the skyscrapers.

Posted by
10959 posts

And walking slowly....

Sometimes we native New Yorkers wish our sidewalks looked like this:

NYC Sidewalk

Posted by
71 posts

So the answer is, don't look at the sights, don't take pictures, and never look at a map. Not going to happen. I don't go on vacation to pretend I'm a local, I go to see the sights!

Posted by
171 posts

I think there will be times when you look like a tourist whether you want to or not. Having traveled extensively in Europe I've never worried about pickpockets because I avoid crowded, "touristy" places, or dangerous places. It helps to be super-organised, so you're not standing around fussing with your bag or looking distracted in busy places like train stations. Finally, it's hard to look neat and tidy all the time when you're traveling, and there will be days when what began as comfortably casual turns sloppy and disheveled. I'm sure this is true for all travelers the world over. So despite our best efforts to look cool, we look like tourists. What can you do??? Try to stay organised and on top of things, I guess.

Posted by
668 posts

I think the perception towards tourist clothing in us going to Europe v. them coming here lies in the different attitudes to the visited country. Tourists from Europe to NA feel they already know NA. It features in all their movies, TV shows. Their neighbour, cousin, aunt, son, or daughter emmigrated to Canada or US. AND they probably have a working knowledge of the language. They see it as their daughter country, so they do not feel they need to know how people dress - and they look on the whole NA landmass as one. From here, we see Europe as an exotic set of discrete countries, each to be approached as a new experience with its own peculiar language and customs and we want to fit in.

Posted by
115 posts

Personnally the concern I have about dressing correctly anyplace I visit (and I have asked here before also) is that I do not want to be disrespectful to the running "tastes" of any place. For instance it was quite true once I got there that I NEVR saw anyone (except in lines for museums etc where you tend to see tourists) in shorts in Munich. Germans do seem to feel it is wrong to go out in public in shorts..except you did see backpackers in khaki shorts at times (college age usually) and definitely not in churches. And it is good to know that it is outright unacceptable in many cites to wear tank tops etc into churches -even for tours) I learned a lot here on that area.
But my concern has been that people that are not used to cities, even USA cities, do not keep a better "control" or handle on their purses/bags in public...or wallets in deeper front pockets in trains or crowded areas. being aware of your surroundings even if you are looking up at skyscrapers or whatever is of utmost concern when I see some people...and I can only assume they are not used to cities and thus may be tourists. It was a main lesson I had to drill into my childrens heads before we visited larger cities such a Paris or NYC.

Posted by
14780 posts

Thanks, Frank II. Good one. It's been way too long since I've been in NYC, forgot how fast you walk.

Posted by
311 posts

You got it exactly right, Claire! Is the purpose of travel to see things we've never seen before or do we go just to get points for not appearing to be a tourist? Believe me, I'm appalled at the dress and loud behavior that I've witnessed in some tourists.But (sorry, Frank. I understand you're pain having been to the local mall at Christmas) if we all jump on the New Yorker side of the sidewalk, we'll return home having seen nothing but pavement and the backs of people's heads. So I'm going to continue to dress conservatively, be respectful of others rules and traditions, take my map and camera and look at what I went to see.

Posted by
165 posts

We just got back after two week in France, and while my wife and her friend shopped, I had a lot time to observe my fellow tourist. My conclusion: All tourist dress alike. Wether German or Belgian bus tours, the French traveling in their own country,or North Americans on the big adventure. Shorts and sandals or sneakers, and that included Paris. And as far as showing the proper respect in churches and such, that has nothing to do with dress. That's all to do with the heart and mind. If God gets bent out of shape because you wore shorts in his church then He/She/It must really be ticked with the gift shop and the holy card vending machines. REMEMBER: No shirt, no shoes,no service. No speedos on fat guys,and women over 60 should not go topless.

Posted by
11450 posts

Went downtown today,, in my very touristy , and cruise ship port city.

It is so easy to tell tourists,, and it is NOT their clothes.

Its the way they walk looking at stuff, locals tend to just walk along street with purpose,we are going somewhere, usually we know where, ,ignoring stuff basically, LOL

Yes, Cameras( camera cases) around the necks are the one dead giveaway though.

Posted by
8274 posts

Yes, Europeans are targeted by pick pockets. Two years ago my French husband caught a girl behind him trying to get his wallet on the down escalator in a Nice shopping mall. The routine was to pass it on back to the girl behind her. He had no camera, no water bottle, no backpack, no Hawaiian shirt.

Posted by
990 posts

Pickpockets look for targets of opportunity--those who are not paying attention to their surroundings, those who look like they have goodies such as wallets and cameras ripe for the taking, and those who are unlikely to present a risk of arrest and prosecution to them. Targets who don't speak the local language are less likely to successfully raise a hue and cry if the pickpockets got caught in the act and less likely to be able to explain to a police officer what just happened and what the culprits looked like. And in the unlikely event that the pickpocket is caught and the police on the scene, a foreign tourist is unlikely to be around some weeks later when the arrested culprit would appear in court. So foreign tourists are targeted to be victims, just because we are the juiciest deer in the herd of potential victims.

On the second question, Europeans tend to dress less casually than Americans do. Since overly casual dress sticks out more than overly formal dress, it is less of a problem for them. Let's put it this way--you will never be turned away from a casual restaurant for wearing a jacket and tie, but you might be refused service in some upscale restaurants if you turned up in shorts and flip flops.

Me, I tend to dress conventionally whatever the context. So I dress a bit more formally when I'm in London or Paris or New York or Boston than when I'm in the Cinque Terre or Austin Texas. I suspect most Europeans do the same.

Posted by
375 posts

To address the OP's second question, my German neighbors did ask me what they should wear on their trip to the US (I told them they might want to re-think the black socks with sandals). Generally their perception is that Americans are much more casual than Europeans, and they definitely think there is a time and a place for it.

This adds nothing to the OP's question, but I can't resist stating that most people I know here in Germany were thrilled with the weather in the 90's, cooling to 70's at night that a previous poster termed "horrible." I guess it's all in your expectations and what you generally have to put up with. Now it's cool and rainy again. Give me back the summer weather!

Posted by
1976 posts

When I travel, my first concern is the weather. I just returned from a 3-week trip to Germany, Luxembourg, and Amsterdam and the weather was horrible for the first half of my trip (almost the whole time I was in Germany) - temperatures in the 90s during the day and "cooling off" to the 70s overnight, with high humidity. I brought shorts instead of long pants and I didn't care how I looked. I traveled with a German friend for my whole trip and he himself was a tourist in most of the places we went in Germany. He didn't care if people could tell he was a tourist. As long as our tourist clothes are not offensive to anyone, I don't think we should worry about what we wear. It will be obvious to most natives that we're foreigners. And I could have chosen to spend my money in the U.S. or other parts of the world but I chose to go to Europe and spend it there, so I think any European who has a real problem with tourists needs to think about how much money we pump into their economy.

Posted by
8064 posts

Europeans DON'T care what you have on. It is forums like this one that make people nervous about what they are wearing.

The OP has asked if Europeans worry about what they are wearing in other countries and if they worry themselves about getting pick-pocketed in their own country.

How did this evolve into, "well I will wear what I want to, if the Europeans want all that money that tourists are pumping into the economy" That just came out of nowhere!