While I have been studying abroad, I have taken the chance to also travel. Traveling through Europe is extremely easy while living in Europe, because travel prices are cheap and accommodation is too. Though it is easy to get from country to country, I think it is important to talk about safety while traveling.
As American’s we don’t have to deal with pick-pockets, or street scams like Europeans do. While we can walk the streets of Kansas City with ease, that is not the case in many European countries. While I travel abroad, I carry with me a purse that protects various forms of theft, like digital scanners, and pick-pockets. As a personal rule, I always keep my purse in front of me, and in crowded areas I keep my hand on it. Some people like to have a money belt on them, that can hold money as well as their passport, but if I am only traveling for a short period, I just carry my purse. We don’t have to pay attention to these things in the States, but it is definitely something to be vigilant about while traveling abroad.
A good rule to go by, in any situation abroad, is to be vigilant. If someone approaches you, asking you to sign a paper or buy something, don’t do it. It is usually a scam and while you aren’t paying attention, someone will pick-pocket you. In those situations, it is okay to reject people, even if it is aggressive or what some would call rude. It is better to be safe than sorry!
If it is possible, dressing like the locals and acting like the locals is the best way to avoid any extra attention. People won’t target you if you act and look like a local because they know they won’t get anything out of you. While traveling in Paris, I was mistaken for a local a few times because I walked around with confidence, and understood the metro system pretty well. If you can do anything to make it seem like you know what you are doing, and are a local, do it.
Before I travel, I always try to learn the metro systems or the bus system. This makes it easier to travel around while visiting, but also makes it seem like you are a local. I’ve found that it gives me confidence as well. Learning a little bit of the language of the city you are visiting also helps. While in Paris, I used small french phrases here and there and it made a great difference. If you need to, use google translate to help you understand signs.
Traveling abroad is a wonderful experience. It is a time to grow and learn a lot about yourself, but it is also important to be safe so that everything runs smoothly. It is okay to be a little nervous about traveling in Europe, but don’t let it hinder you from seeing and doing amazing things. Use the nervous energy to research about the best ways to travel, and how to stay vigilant in any situation!