Travelling around Europe is generally very safe. Crime rates are low, high quality healthcare is plentiful, governments are stable, and policing is generally fair and visible. And although the continent has been targeted by several terrorist attacks over the past decade, you are far more likely to be run over by a sightseeing bus than to be caught up in an attack on a visit to Europe.
But before you set off, here are four safety tips for travelling in Europe, for preparation and peace of mind.
Do your research before you leave home
Planning is the key to good travel. So, before you set off it is important to find out as much about where you are going as possible. Visit the Foreign Office website and look up country-by-country recommendations on the political climate and any potential social unrest. That website will also give you an idea of the threat level in countries such as France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
Don’t flash your wealth
Wherever you are in the world, it is always good advice to attempt to blend in with your destination. This is particularly important in areas where the locals are less well off. Don’t openly flash your wallet or purse around or leave expensive devices and smartphones on show. As with anywhere, pickpockets will target people who look unsure or lost, or who are flouting their wealth or possessions. Wear bags and backpacks on your front, if you can.
Make sure your travel insurance is all sorted because there is nothing worse than having your personal belongings go AWOL while you’re away. If you have got the right policy, it will pay out while you are away to replace your stuff. Also, in some countries, it is illegal to visit if you don’t have any travel insurance at all.
Be on your guard against scams
Like anywhere, it is possible to be targeted by scams while you are travelling around Europe. The key is to be your guard when you encounter strangers who appear to be too good to be true, or overly friendly. Some scams will be very simple and involve young children distracting you or someone crowding you, spilling a drink on you, while someone else is behind you opening your bag to steal possessions or your wallet from your back pocket.
You may also encounter more complex scams which involve people claiming to be tourist police or even some kind of secret police and demanding to search your possessions. In situations such as these, the key is to trust your instincts – if something doesn’t feel right, or if you feel like you are being targeted, then back your gut feeling. Ask to see identification and check it carefully. That should be enough to scare off anyone who is doing something illegal. And if you’re still not sure, call the police yourself.
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself
Reading about all the things that can go wrong when you travel in Europe can be frightening. The reality is that the vast majority of tourists will have a fantastic trip that will pass without a single incident. Europe is a place with incredible variety, beautiful cities and incredible sightseeing opportunities. So, the key before any trip to Europe is to remember, above all else, to enjoy yourself.
Drink in the fantastic atmosphere that you will find across the continent, explore it with the enjoyment and sense of fun that should accompany any trip. If you are sensible, use your common sense as you go about your travels, stay on your guard and trust your instincts, you will have a memorable, incredible time in Europe. Hopefully, our tips will help keep you safe.