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Be prepared then enjoy your vacation.

I just returned from 17 days in Europe, Spain, France, Italy, and Montenegro and might have been a little preoccupied with pickpockets and other scams to fully enjoy my vacation.

Prior to leaving I warned the kids (10,12,&16) about pickpockets and other scams and I wasted a lot of time watching and worrying for a problem that was solved by utilizing a money belt and leaving other valuables in our room.

I'm in law enforcement so I have a tendency to be preoccupied maintaining situational awareness, sometimes to my own detriment in enjoying my vacation.

We walked around Barcelona, Florence, Cannes, Rome and we never encountered any problems. So I guess my advise is be prepared and cautious but don't obsess.

On a side note I brought some patches off my old uniforms and introduced myself to local police I met on the streets and gave them some patches just in case I need a little help from the locals. I even had a police officer in Venice take his badge off his shirt and give it to me. I also had a couple of locals in front of Casa Mila let my kids take pictures on their motorcycles with lights and sirens blasting. The kids loved it.

Be prepared and cautious but enjoy your vacation.

Posted by
5697 posts

Glad to hear your trip was good, even if you missed the "street theater" experience of having someone try the gold-ring scam on you (we had it 5 times in 2 hours in Paris ... most amusing when you know what's going on!) Being prepared and knowing your cash and money cards are safely strapped to your body makes it easier to enjoy the vacation.

Posted by
792 posts

I love this story about the exchange with local law enforcement! What a great memory for you and your family!

Posted by
72 posts

Kristen. It was a really cool memory. I also gave a patch to a member if the Swiss Guard at the St. Peter's and got a really cool picture shaking hands. I really treasure those fun experiences.

Posted by
698 posts

Great post, Dennis! I bet those memories you have with the local police is mutual - they probably went home that night and had a good story to tell their families about the American they had something in common with. Great memories for your kids too!

You're so right too about being prepared, but then just relax and enjoy your vacation!

Posted by
2012 posts

Dennis, what a heart-warming story about making the most of your family vacation. I'm so glad you all had a good time.

Posted by
193 posts

So glad I read this! My husband is also in law enforcement and I just mentioned the other day that he needs to take some badge patches with us this summer!! The last trip we took to the Caribbean we met many folks from London and they loved talking to an American police officer :). Those are good memories.

Posted by
32051 posts


It's great to hear that you had such a nice trip. I also try to practice situational awareness, especially when travelling, and so far haven't had any issues with pickpockets.

I used to work in EMS and have never thought about taking uniform patches. Exchanging patches seems to be quite common with all the emergency services. I have a relative working in law enforcement, so I'll mention this to him also.