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Safety is a concern for most travelers, but don’t let the fear of pickpockets in Europe stop you from visiting your dream destination! Some smart preparation and vigilance can keep you safe. Here are six tools to help prevent pickpockets in Europe from stealing your items.
How to Stay Safe From Pickpockets in Europe
Travel Fashion Help! A reader asks: I haven’t traveled to Europe in ages and my husband and I just booked a trip to London and Paris. I’m trying to be sensible about what I bring; I’m reading a ton about keeping valuables close, but also to buy bags that are slashproof to keep it safe from pickpockets in Europe. Do you have any safety advice for traveling in London and Paris?
If you’ve not visited London and Paris before, you may be overwhelmed by the crowded metro lines and busy streets. As with many major cities, the most common problem for tourists (or locals) is theft. In fact, pickpockets in Europe are at an all-time high, with cities in Spain topping the list.
In addition to making sure you’re always aware of your surroundings, you can take certain precautions when traveling Europe or other parts of the world.
We asked our readers for their top tips on how they keep their valuables safe from pickpockets in Europe. This is what they said:
Leave your valuables at home
Keep your stuff safe from pickpockets in Europe by not bringing it with you when you’re sightseeing! Leave valuable jewelry at home. Some travelers even choose not to wear their engagement or wedding rings on certain trips in fear of forgetting them in the hotel room. Or, they don’t want to look like they are flaunting wealth by wearing a big ring.
For the valuables you do bring with you–leaving them at your hotel is crucial when exploring a new city. Keep your passport locked away in the hotel safe, along with one ATM card so you still have your passport and money…in the worst-case scenario of getting pickpocketed.
We recommend you split up your cash and cards:
- Keep the cash you’ll need for the day inside your purse.
- Place additional cash and credit cards in anti-theft items such as the bra stash.
- Leave the rest if your stuff locked inside the hotel safe or your locked suitcase.
Read more tips on how to keep your passport safe when traveling!
Use your bag as a crossbody
Wear a crossbody bag and keep it in front of you at all times so you’re able to see your valuables no matter where you are. If you’re walking along the side of a road, then make sure your bag is on the other side of your body to prevent roadside thefts. A leather crossbody bag that you love will help you protect your valuables and look stylish, too.
Read more about why female travelers love cross body purses for travel!
Use a slash-proof bag
Slash-proof bags come in various styles and add a layer of security to ease your mind when traveling through Europe.
Crowded and popular tourist areas are the worst for pickpockets. If you’re surrounded by a large group of people, your belongings could easily be taken by someone cutting your bag open.
Choosing a slash-proof and sturdy material is one of the best ways to protect your belongings. Readers recommend PacSafe slash-proof bags; they last years. We also use and recommend Travelon for their feminine styles.
Take a look at our round-up of the best anti-theft travel bags for women!
Store valuables in a neck pouch
For those days when you’re actively traveling (i.e. on flights or trains) and need to carry all of your valuables, keep everything under your clothes using a neck pouch. These are perfect for your passport, credit cards, and cash, and help you keep things away from pickpockets in Europe.
These products also help you discreetly carry all of your belongings in transit:
While the above strategy is perfect for security, it also means you won’t have easy access to your items. Keep a small amount of cash in a wrist wallet, so you don’t have to pull out your neck safe in public areas.
Never access your under-clothing anti-theft products in front of others. This happens too frequently and defeats the purpose of hiding your valuables under your clothing.
Add a padlock to your luggage
You can take the extra step of securing the zipper of your bag with a small padlock if you’re in a busy area and want to be extra cautious. Try to find something small and subtle, as an obvious padlock could make you more of a target.
While this doesn’t guarantee your luggage won’t be broken into, it helps prevent opportunistic theft. We recommend you only buy a suitcase that has lockable zippers or a built-in locking system.
Don’t stand out
While locals aren’t immune from pickpockets in Europe, thieves do tend to target tourists. By steering clear of an overly touristy look, you can avoid unwanted attention. Locals wouldn’t carry an “anti-theft bag”, so look for a bag that looks like a regular purse – this helps you blend in.
Also, most locals probably wouldn’t walk around with an outdoor backpack in the middle of the city. We love using backpacks to explore cities, but choose a cute purse backpack that offers the convenience of a traditional backpack without making you stand out like a sore thumb.
Ensure you’re extra vigilant on the metro and while walking on crowded, tourist-packed streets. No matter how distracted you get, do not lose sight of your belongings!
Refer to our packing lists so you can bring the right clothes and dress appropriately for the city style, weather, and your activities.
Do you have any tips on how to avoid pickpockets in Europe? Please share in the comments!
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For more Europe-related articles, please read:
- 10 Step Packing Guide for Europe
- 10 Step Packing Guide for Italy
- 10 Step Packing Guide for a trip to Paris and Italy
- How to Choose the Best Walking Shoes for Europe
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