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How to Stay Safe backpacking Europe

CaseyUconn

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  • Added on: March 30th, 2006
This post is about saftey tips and areas to stay away from. I am going to Europe for 5 weeks this May and will be taking my girlfriend. Im concerned with keeping her out of dangerous situations more than my own saftey. So is there any places you would not go or stay? Ive heard some place of Amsterdam are dangerous, how would I know where this is. Also we will be backpacking through many very small towns I assume that everything is fairly safe especially little villages but any suggestions would be great.
Thanks

Travel4Life

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  • Added on: March 30th, 2006
Amsterdam probably has some of the shadiest characters you'll ever see. However, for the most part, they just congregrate around a couple of areas [mostly in the red light district]. When you pass by shady looking people, don't make eye contact and just keep walking. Worst thing they will do is yell something like, "Bloody wanker!!!" at you, once you've passed them. That happeneded to me a few times... haha.

When you and your girl are walking the streets of Europe, just walk confidently and be aware of whats going around you. Try not to look like a tourist [leave your backpacks in a hostel whenever possible] and try and be discreet when using a map.

If it makes you feel more comfortable, keep a small weapon in your pocket, like brass knuckles or even a switch blade... the odds of you having to take it out are slim, but will put you at ease.

b0neman

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  • Added on: March 30th, 2006
First off, stop reading the State Department's traveller's warnings for Europe so much. Our government wants us to lock ourselves up in our homes and duct tape all the windows and doors.

Thank being said, watch out for pickpockets and make use of left luggage facilities. Don't bring anything you will miss if it gets lost, so laptops, expensive jewelry, watches, expensive video cameras should be left at home. You will more likely be gougued of any and all cash where ever you go in the high season.

Try not to look so much like all the other tourists with camera straps hanging off your neck and backpacks filled to the gill with whatever. Also, *KNOW THE LINGO*!!! Quit asking-oh if-oh anyone-oh speak-oh da english-oh unless you have absolutely no other course of action.

I've heard that overnight trains in certain countries are the places where you really have to watch it. Maybe try to book a sleeper that isn't shared? You'll pay dearly for this safety but if you're a bit paranoid it may be worth it. The same goes for flop-house vs. hostels. If you don't like the idea of sharing a room with 5 - 12 other people and can cough up the extra dough for your own room, do it so you can sleep in peace.

Amsterdam is pretty darn safe. Just don't be a dumbaiish and buy cocaine from the drug dealers on the street. Hmmmm, ya think?? Devil

Your girlfriend should be safe from harm apart from whistles/catcalls etc... you just watch *yourself* if you've got an I Luv UmAirIckAh red white and blue tee shirt on!!! Rock Out

Honestly, I can't think of a safer place for a traveller to be than in EuroTrash land. People have been going to the exact same places that you and your girl will be going for hundreds of years. Maybe even the same route! They want your dollars and they can't get at them if you are harmed. Just don't be stupid and *LOOK* both ways before you cross a street!!! Europeans are required to be a bit more alive than us Americans when walking. Don't even think about "right-of-way" as it doesn't apply.

Above all: Have FUN!!!
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Trip with Bones--------------> http://blogs.bootsnall.com/b0neman/


Eppyboy

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  • Added on: March 30th, 2006
i got pickpocketed in amsterdam but i stuck out...generally europe is pretty safe...metro in Rome and gypses dont just go sticking your finger in the rope that the gypses dangle around...mainly watch out for pickpocketers...not to make you paranoid but people are watching you hahaha...no its true they are...may be a 14 year old school girl but they are pros...your girlfriend will be safe if you are with her just dont have her walk down the streets at night in bad parts of cities thats all...the state departments warnings are overblown to an extent lots of politics with those countries etc...
Josh and Nicole aren't going anywhere for a while, but you can still read about their past trips herehttp://blogs.bootsnall.com/eppyboy

LondonCard2

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  • Added on: March 30th, 2006
Dont be over worried about Europe. Its a pretty safe place generally speaking. A lot safer than you might think. It pays to be aware of the dangers and aware of where your valuables are in almost all major cities around the world and Europe is no differnt. Just dont be over cautious I will likely do you more harm than good.

Just being sensible will likely see you through unscathed. Just dont hang your valuables around your neck or have them hanging out your back pocket. Use a money belt (or similar) ankeep your valuable in there and only enough money for the day in your wallet. Stick a couple of notes in other places as well so you have money separate.

Seriously, just use your loaf and learn where the bad neighbourhoods are (there arent all that many) and you'll be just fine. Have a read of some blogs to see what other people did on their trips - I found it one of teh most useful things you can do whilst preparing for a trip!

amberPdidit

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  • Added on: March 30th, 2006
When I went on my 1st solo trip, despite it being pretty short commpared to some of you guys, I realized I think the risk level is near to the same when travelling (albeit a tad higher since you are higher profile) but the scary thing is that you are further away from home if/should anything happen. So aside from taking the appropriate personal safety precautions I tried to make it as easy as I could to control loss if something did happen.

I left my mom and sister (and usually emailed myself):
--> a copy of my passport and emailed myself one
--> my credit card info
-->tentative itinerary
--> Copy of plane tix and other reservation #s

This made me feel like if somethng did happen I could fix it more easily and get back to my trip

The added bonus is that it made the people back home feel better too.
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As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.

gonorth

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  • Added on: March 30th, 2006
I don'tthink I can add much to this paranoia other than
Suspicious Darth Mavis Rock Out Cracking Up
---...--- ---...--- ---...--- ---...---
Joes portly antipodean pal
He just wants my port and cherry ripes

CaseyUconn

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  • Added on: March 30th, 2006
Definetly not paranoid at all, the east coast of US is probally more dangerous than all of Europe. But then I wouldnt go walking through New haven Ct at night. Being a tourist and not knowing where to go sometimes you make bad descions with out realizing it, just looking for the where not to go's by accident. Thanks for all your replies.

Noella

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  • Added on: April 1st, 2006
I traveled extensively throughout western Europe (as well as to London, St Pets, Moscow, Prague, Krakow) with friends when I was 17-19 and my family was stationed in Germany. I never once "worried" about my safety - even while strolling through the red light district with several friends in Amsterdam.

Take the regular precautions you would when traveling to a new area in your own country and you should be fine.

buckerooni

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  • Added on: April 1st, 2006
Travel4Life suggested carrying a small weapon if it makes you feel 'comfortable'.

I disagree.

I recommend carrying a very LARGE weapon, this will make you feel extremely 'powerful and menacing' to all the would-be rapists and murders you will no doubt encounter - probably as soon as you get off the plane.

A Double Handed Sword (think Highlander) or a medieval Battle Axe will ward off all but the most violent and murderously bloodthirsty villans.

The safest approach, therefore the better one is to leave your pain-in-the-butt helpless girlfriend at home, its not as if you're married or anything and its super easy to get laid in europe without a chick hanging off your arm.

Good Luck!

Stephen Mattison

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  • Added on: April 1st, 2006
If your going to carry a weapon, make sure you know how to use it. Otherwise you'll just make a bad situation worse, a lot worse.

Damien

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  • Added on: April 1st, 2006
I'm going to have to agree with the above two people. A weapon is silly and so is a question as to safety in Europe...when it all comes down to it, the best stories are the close calls, when you cross over the line and step out of the shadow of the monuments of the world and into the immediacy of the real world...I'll also agree with leaving the girlfriend at home, whenever possible...

Tizwoz

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  • Added on: April 4th, 2006
a weapon is likely to land you in big trouble with the police in europe.

and it will only add to any prconceptions that americans are trigger happy.

definitely apply common sense as you would if walking around NYC, but I shouldn't worry too much. Don't flash expensive electronic equipment around, and always have you wallet in an inside pocket and your cash spread in several places. Pickpockets are going to be the worst thing that you are likely to encounter and totally avoidable.

if your girlfriend feels vulnerable, consider getting one of those really loud rape alarms for her. Some people find that that gives them more confidence. Also remind her that you can always turn around if you end up in an area or bar in which she doesn't feel comfortable. She could also have a look at http://www.bootsnall.com/tk/women/. Thats always confidence boosting!

Busychild

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  • Added on: April 4th, 2006
I think a weapon is not a good idea, makes it look like you are looking for trouble.

static

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  • Added on: April 4th, 2006
If one were intent on having a weapon, would one bring it with them so that the TSA would have a field day before they had even left the airport, or would one go weapon shopping upon arrival?

Amused onlookers need to know.


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