The Hazel Eyed Traveler

A scenic travel and lifestyle blog by Katie Alice

How to Avoid Pickpockets

Venice, canals, Gandola, summer in Europe
Europe, a place overflowing in history, culture, beauty, diverse peoples, multiple languages, and unfortunately pickpockets.  Yes, you can easily encounter pickpockets while in Europe.  A place swarming in tourists too enchanted with the beauty around them may not observe the person oh so discretely relieving them of their personal valuables.  

I personally have avoided pickpocketing encounters and kept all my valuables intact.   Unfortunately I cannot say that for everyone I know.  There was one such particular encounter when I was traveling with a tour group and riding the Rome Metropolitana (metro).  Per usual people were packed in like sardines.  One of the guys on the tour noticed an Italian girl carrying a guitar and he convinced her to let him play a song.  Everyone joyfully started singing and clapping along.   We all were having a grand time and as we alighted on the metro platform, continued to chat happily among ourselves.   Eventually word got around that one of the girls on the tour was no longer in possession of her wallet.     She previously saw her wallet in her purse prior to boarding the metro.  And so the  happiness we all previously experienced quickly dwindled and we knew she could only be a victim of the unfortunate crime of pickpocketing.  

None of us ever want to experience pickpocketing in any environment.  But with a few helpful tips you can easily outwit the sly pickpocketeers (I just made that word up) and truly emerge yourself in your European vacation with all your valuables intact.  

Bags and Purses
Wear the correct wallets and purses when in Europe.  I purchased this bag from PacSafe. The fact that the zippers have extra security on them, the material contains RFIDsafe blocking pockets, and the material and straps are slash proof gives me confidence I am secure. I personally like crossbody bags to keep my arms free.  That being said some pickpockets like to slash purse straps so if you wear a crossbody and it is not slash proof be alert that this can happen. 

My brother studied abroad in Europe this past year and while traveling he took this backpack everywhere without experiencing any mishaps.  It works great because the zippers are all up against your back and the material is cut proof.  I actually see a lot of guys using this backpack in Europe when I visit.

Another alternative are pickpocket proof pants.  There are a variety of them out there or if you can find pants with extremely deep pockets those work as well.  I never wore these but I do know of one person who wore them and they did not lose any valuables. 

Hidden Wallets
It is always a good idea to wear a money belt or neck pouch.   A money belt is a small zippered pouch that you fasten around your waist.  You can wear it under your pants or skirt.  A neck pouch is an alternative.  This is a small pouch but instead of wearing it around your waist you wear it as you would a necklace,  

I personally prefer a neck pouch since I adore dresses and when in a dire situation I may need to access my neck pouch immediately.  If I were to wear a money belt I do not wish to find myself running around frantically attempting to locate a restroom in order to access the money belt which I oh so safely secured under my yards of dressy material.  By doing so I made it not only unaccessible for pickpockets but for me the owner as well.  But for all of you who do not indulge in the wearing of dresses I definitely recommend a money belt.  You can easily slip it under the top part of your pants and access it immediately when you require it.   

Well then, moving on from my long winded explanation of my personal money belt dilemmas.  I keep all my valuables that I will not and cannot lose under any circumstances in my neck pouch or money belt if your prefer.  

Before Your Trip
Take pictures/photocopies of your passports, credit cards, prescriptions, rail vouchers, etc...  Leave these copies at home while on your trip.  
If you bring any expensive gear with you take pictures of these and also leave those photos at home.   

Blend In
Avoid looking like a tourist.   Do not wear anything that will make you stand out and look like a tourist.   Your sport team's apparel, baseball caps, or shorts are articles of clothing best left at home.   I know we sometimes need to try to find directions to travel from point A to point B but try to avoid looking lost or appearing like you do not know where you are.  

Be Aware
Traveling can cause one to sometimes forget something and loose it in the process.   I may be a little on the paranoid side when it comes to my things.  But I am constantly checking (and I mean constantly checking) that I did not leave anything in my hotel room.  I will check under beds, dressers, in closets, the bathroom, and any other nook and cranny that I can think of.   Along with looking behind me as I leave a hotel I also regularly check that my purse is smartly in place on my person.   

One time when I visited Paris I and a couple others left a club and waved down a taxi to drive back to the hotel.  To say the least the night had been crazy and my mind was elsewhere as we exited the cab. The next day I realized sometime in the night I misplaced my Venetian fan.  The last time I remember seeing it I was climbing into the back of the taxi.  No, I did not loose something as valuable as say my passport which would be a totally different kettle of fish but I felt dismayed all the same.  I really had grown to depend on that fan as the summer was extremely hot and air-conditioning was scarce.  Ever since then I never leave a taxi without looking behind me.    

When visiting a restaurant do not set your things down.  Keep ahold of your bag/purse at all times.  I know how attached we are to our phones.  That being said do not set it in front of you on the table.  I do not know any one personally but I have heard stories of phones being swiped off the table in front of people.  People have even lost their phone to others swiping their phone right out of their hands.  So keep ahold of those phones and other valuables and do not let them out of your sight. 

Pickpockets, Venice, Crowds, Summer in Europe
Like my photo above Europe is full of crowds especially in the summer.  People flock to see amazing sites in droves.  Be aware at all times in crowds.  Especially in the metro, (just like my story above) train stations, hotel lobbies, or open air shops.   These are perfect haunting grounds for those looking to become the new owner of your belongings.  

I hope these tips helped you feel ready when traveling to Europe.  Remember to stay vigilant and prepared and you will be less likely to loose any valuables. 

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