I'm planning on a 2-3 month trip through Europe (Portugal, Spain, France, Switz., Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Czech Rep., Germany, Belgium, UK, anywhere else I decide, etc) in Spring/Summer '05. I'll be meeting up with friends for parts of the trip, but I may be traveling alone for other parts.
Any comments on safety for a woman traveling alone through the countries I listed? I'll tbe trying to cut costs by traveling via rail and staying in hostels...
Its probably the same rules apply to anywhere: Avoid wandering around late at night alone, keep an eye on your stuff, and watch your drink in bars and so on.
People often get stuff stolen in airports, don't let your bags out your sight for a second, theives target them and they'll move quickly.
Remember that although you'll probably be fine and have a great time, you are a target as a tourist, so its best to try not to stick out too much.
Oh, and in the UK try heading the North, Especially if you like beautiful countryside and friendlier people!
It's much easier being a man
I'd say your that your main risk is being pick-pocketed on a bus/train or in a crowded area.
Distraction is often used to get people to drop their guard, and may take the form of someone (often a child) approcahing you for some money / ask a question / watch a magic trick whilst their companion gets into your bag while you are distracted. This type of thing is common in places like Spain and Italy. So stay alert at all times.
You can often get fleeced of your money by falling for a scam. A good example is where a person is "winning" a lot of money through a game of chance conducted on the footpath. This may be something as simple as the host putting a pea under a bottle top, moving the three bottle tops around on the table, and then you have to guess which one the pea is under. People get sucked in by watching someone "win" a heap of money, then play tthemselves and get stung. I know this sounds ridiculous, and that you would never get sucked into this type of thing, but it's amazing the number of people that do.
Just stay alert to the goings-on around you and you'll be fine.
to stay safe its simple things - stick to main roads if possible, wear comfortable shoes ( easier to get away), as a tourist you'll stand out anyway but try not to draw attention to yourself, for example if everyone is in conservative dress then try to do like wise, don't believe everything you've heard , sad but not all people who seem helpful are honest, if the places you stay have a safe then lock your valuables away, if you're bringing currency try to have travellers cheques ( they're insured so if you are robbed then you can retrieve your money), leave a photocopy of your passport / id's / cheques in a different part of your bag and a copy with your family ( saves time if you have to order new ones)...... the biggest tip though is to have fun and be confident, if you don't act like a victim or like someone who will be ripped off easily then it shouldn't happen......
Have fun !!
Thank you so much for the tips. Good idea about the copies of important documents...I appreciate it!
Try heading north for beautiful countryside and friendlier people??
Beautiful countryside, do not let me take that away from the north, it is amazing, but there are so many beautiful places in the south. Try Devon and Cornwall?? With regards to the people being friendlier in the north, well thats not exactly true!! On the whole Britain is extremely friendly, but as a southerner that is a grossly inaccurate statment Lil Liz!!
Make sure you bring loads of Euros and Pounds, as you will need them, the dollar isnt worth hardly anything in Europe anymore.
If someone approaches you and asks you for a "favour" then just shut up, turn around and walk around the corner- especially in Amsterdam, if you go there.
On the train: either sleep with your feet on your pack keeping it in your view and touch at all times, while someone you met is looking awake reading or journalling or listening to a diskman or whatever, or if you get a sleeping car on a train, like the pickpocket worries, also be wary of small-time theives gassing the sleeping car and stealing your valuables to leave you waking up disoriented and missing your camera. This happened to a couple of my friends coming into Barcelona from Italy on a night train- someone yelling, "Thief! Theif!" woke them up, but they still had gotton robbed. Just to warn you about that. Also, in Paris, France, in the train station when it is busy sometimes theives will slash a strap with a pocket knife or pen knife or whatever so be really alert to what is happening around you, especially in crowds and not just the Metro and train stations- I have heard that they might even slash open your bag and grab whatever they can that falls.
Also, don't try to get away with not buying a ticket- they will always check and they will make you buy another one, or fine you for travelling without one if you don't- the class can be cheated, though, but get off the train if someone else gets pissed off and act like you don't understand, especially in Germany- in Italy, take the proper class, though, and ask if you can't decipher the language- they can seriously harass you sometimes, even if you've paid and reserved your seat that you are sitting in. If you see him pointing at his eye in Italy- that is not a good sign.
If you are alone in Italy- I would suggest taking the bus by day- www.eurolines.com It is cheaper, also, but not necessarily in Germany, where you can deffinately handle the train without worry. Germany is a really safe country in the EU to travel in as a single woman. I did. Ask anyone on the street who looks twenty-something, especailly in a large city, and you are almost guarnateed to meet someone who speaks almost fluent English because they now have to learn it in school from kindergarten, almost. People are so helpful there, and in fact, almost everywhere you go in Europe you will meet mostly friendly local people.
To avoid being harrassed by authorities, you might want to leave your really American looking things at home- especially hoodies, bandanas, ball caps, runners/sneakers, American flags, American-style jeans, etc. They might chase you down the street and into a pub in Germany. And they might do worse in Italy- my American friends nearly got run over several times on the road in northern Italy after the Sept. 11 attacks on the USA.
This is sort of a no-brainer, but do not ever take pictures of flags of the countries you are travelling in anywhere but on a parliament building durring a tour- they might shoot you if they think you are a risk of being an international spy, or maybe a reporter? Just don't take pictures of really political things like that without the proper permission. That and millitary bases, of course.
I hope this helps to ease your mind a bit about your trip and make you aware of things that can happen in Europe while you travel. Have a good trip and I wish you luck and good travels!
The chances of you getting shoot in any European country are highly unlikely, take as many pictures as you want, military bases aside.
As for what you wear, dont worry we have caps/Jeans here in europe as well, the only think i would say is stay away from policitcal conversations totally. Hardly anyone in Europe cares what some Americans think of the Iraq war, or how the US gov conducts its self.
Another thing, bring loads of money, dollars are not accepted in Europe at all, and are not worth hardly anything either. The UK still uses the Pound and mainland Europe uses the Euro, but you can use Euros in the UK, mostly in the City, but shops where i live use them as well, but all change is in Pounds.