You are your number one priority while you’re on the road. You want to have fun, and be able to make the most of every experience. But you can take a few precautions to keep you and your belongings safe, so you can get on with enjoying yourself!
First things first: be aware of your surroundings, and don’t put yourself in unnecessarily sticky situations. I was out in Prague one night, and was so tempted to run back to my hostel across the famous walking bridge. But then I had to stop and think, would mum be impressed if I lost a kidney because I didn’t want to pay for a €10 taxi? Yes, it’s likely you will get ripped off, but sometimes being alive is worth a lot more than €10.
Keep your belongings close, especially in busy areas: tourist spots are a huge target for pickpockets. As a girl, I always will wear my handbag across me when we are anywhere busy, and usually keep a hand on it if it’s feeling especially crowded. My poor sister had her wallet stolen on a train while we were travelling together, and I was facing her the whole time. We have speculated about how it happened, but still have no idea. Don’t put anything in your back pockets, and try not to take any valuables out and about.
Watch for people selling or promoting things, or trying to ask for help: obviously it’s always good to lend a hand. As far as I know, I have never fallen victim to this scam. But I have been warned of people with clipboards trying to get details, while someone else will rummage through your bag while you’re distracted. The same goes for asking for help with something like a map, especially if you’ve left your belongings on a table. They can be covered up while your stuff sneakily slides off the table…oops.
People pretending to be police: I hadn’t heard of this until I was in Slovenia last year. A couple in my group were stopped by ‘police’ and asked to give their passports over for inspection. Never, ever give someone your passport. Police won’t ever stop you in the street for something like that. Politely refuse, and if they insist, you can always suggest you do this at the police station. Chances are they will disappear pretty quick.
This is not meant to be scary, and by no means should you ever be afraid of travelling because of opportunistic people. My sister was horrified when someone took her wallet, and couldn’t understand why anyone would ever do such a thing. I explained that chances are they didn’t want to, but it was in Brussels, where there are a lot of refugees, so desperation is high. Chances are, no one is out to do it intentionally. If you keep your wits about you, and a sprinkle of luck, you should find yourself getting on just fine.