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Travel Tips

TRAVEL TIPS

Relaxing and letting your guard down is all part of the holiday experience. However, it’s good to be prepared for the fact that you might also face problems that could affect your enjoyment of your holiday.

It’s our job to remind you to take certain precautions when you’re abroad. That’s why we’ve worked with the travel association to pull together some useful pointers to help you enjoy your holiday and avoid some of the possible pitfalls.

We’d encourage you to talk to other members in your party about the need to be careful when travelling, especially children who are much less likely to be aware of the possible risks.

Take a good look at the following guidance, as well as any other information that’s given to you or is on display throughout your trip. That information may be provided by us, our agents or suppliers, either before you go, during your flight or when you arrive in your destination and at your hotel.

Research your destination and familiarise yourself with their customs and traditions. Ensure you’re aware of the expectations around your behaviour and dress, particularly if you’re planning to visit cultural or religious sites.

Plan ahead:

Before going out, consider how you’ll get back to the hotel and what you might do if you and your family or friends become separated.

Cash:

Avoid taking large sums of cash out with you. Take only as much as you’ll need for the day and leave the rest in the safe in your room or in a safety deposit box at the hotel. If possible, take a pre-loaded travel card such as the Thomas Cook or Co-operative Travel Cash Passport.

Bags:

Keep bags with you at all times and, if possible, wear the strap across your body. When visiting crowded places, place some items (wallet, mobile phone) in your pockets so that if you’re unfortunate enough to have your bag stolen, you can still call the police and get back to your hotel.

Personal belongings:

Most of us have the latest phones, cameras and tablets. Be wary of showing them off in crowded places and don’t leave them on the table in restaurants and bars.

Drinking:

Remember that alcohol dulls your senses, impedes your awareness and affects your judgement. Please consider this when out enjoying yourself. If possible, make sure you can see your drinks being poured and never leave them unattended.

Taxis:

Choose only licensed taxis and settle on a price before you get in. If travelling alone, sit behind the driver.

 

TRIP PLANNING

Quite a few things are worth arranging while you’re still at home — lining up these details before you travel is a big part of having a smooth trip.

  • Check your passport expiration; you may be denied entry into certain European countries if your passport is due to expire within six months of your ticketed date of return. Get it renewed if you’ll be cutting it close.
  • Make reservations well in advance, especially during peak season, for accommodations, popular restaurants, major sights, and local guides.
  • Call your debit- and credit-card companies to let them know the countries you’ll be visiting, to ask about fees, and more. Get your bank’s emergency phone number in the India (but not its 800 number) to call collect if you have a problem. If you don’t know your credit card’s PIN code, ask your bank to mail it to you.
  • Do your homework if you want to buy travel insurance. Check whether your existing insurance (health, homeowner’s, or renter’s) covers you and your possessions overseas.
  • If you’re bringing the kids, make sure you have the right paperwork, including a passport for each, a letter of consent if only one parent is traveling, and documentation for adopted children.
  • Make copies of important travel documents as a backup in case you lose the originals.
  • If you’re planning to buy a rail pass, you’ll need to get it before you leave India. Rail pass or no, it can also be smart to reserve seats on certain trains before you leave.
  • If you need to bridge several long-distance destinations on your trip, look into cheap flights within Europe. For the best fares, book these as far in advance as possible.
  • If you’ll be renting a car, you’ll need a valid driver’s license. An International Driving Permit is technically required in Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and Spain.
  • If you plan to use your Indian mobile phone or smartphone in Europe, contact your provider to enable international calling or to “unlock” your phone. Consider signing up for an international calling, text, and/or data plan, and be sure to confirm voice- and data-roaming fees.
  • Download any apps you might want to use on the road, such as translators, maps, and transit schedules.
  • Take care of any medical needs. Visit your doctor to get a checkup, and see your dentist if you have any work that needs to be done. If you use prescription drugs, stock up before your trip. Pack along the prescription, plus one for contact lens or glasses if you wear them.
  • Attend to your household needs. Cancel your newspapers, hold your mail delivery, and prepay your bills.
  • Give a copy of your itinerary to family or friends.
  • Make a list of valuables that you’re bringing (such as electronics). Include serial numbers, makes, and models, and take photos of your items to serve as a record for the police and your insurance company should anything be stolen.
  • Because airline carry-on restrictions are always changing, visit the Transportation Security Administration’s website for a list of what you can bring on the plane, and for the latest security measures (including screening of electronic devices, which you may be asked to power up).

 

PACKING ESSENTIALS

Here’s a rundown of what should go in your suitcase. We don’t advocate bringing everything listed here. Choose the items that fit with your travel style and needs.

We advise you to always try travelling light as possible. However you may refer bellow list of articles you may need & select the ones which you think may be required or useful for your travel plan.

And Our One & Only Travel Tip….

’’TRAVEL LIGHT, TRAVEL SAFE & TRAVEL SMART’’

 

Clothing

  • Shirts/blouses. Bring up to five short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirts or blouses (how many of each depends on the season) in a cotton/polyester blend. Shirts with long sleeves that roll up easily can double as short-sleeved. Look for a wrinkle-camouflaging pattern or blended fabrics that show a minimum of wrinkles. Synthetic-blend fabrics (such as Coolmax or microfiber) often dry overnight.
  • Pants/shorts. Bring two pairs: one lightweight cotton and another super-lightweight pair for hot and muggy big cities. Jeans can be too hot for summer travel (and are slow to dry). Many travelers like lightweight convertible pants/shorts with zip-off legs. While not especially stylish, they’re functional in Italy, where you can use them to cover up inside churches while still beating the heat outside. Button-down wallet pockets are safest (though still not nearly as thief-proof as a money belt). If you bring shorts, one pair is probably enough. Shorts can double as a swimsuit for men when swimming in lakes or the sea.
  • Underwear and socks. Bring five sets (lighter dries quicker). Bamboo or cotton/nylon-blend socks dry faster than 100 percent cotton, which lose their softness when air-dried.
  • Shoes. Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes with good traction. Mephisto, Ecco, and Rieker look dressier and more European than sneakers, but are still comfortable. Sturdy, low-profile tennis shoes with a good tread are fine, too. For a second pair, consider sandals in summer. Flip-flops are handy if you’ll be using bathrooms down the hall. Whichever shoes you bring, make sure they are well broken in before you leave home.
  • Sweater or lightweight fleece. Warm and dark is best — for layering and dressing up.
  • Jacket. Bring a light and water-resistant windbreaker with a hood. Neutral colors used to look more European than bright ones, but now everything from azure blue to pumpkin orange has made its way into European wardrobes. A hooded jacket of Gore-Tex or other waterproof material is good if you expect rain. (For summer travel, I wing it without rain gear — but always pack for rain in Britain and Ireland.)
  • Tie or scarf. For instant respectability, bring anything lightweight that can break the monotony and make you look snazzy.
  • Swimsuit. To use public pools, you’ll need a swimsuit (men can’t just wear shorts; and in France, men need to wear Speedo-type swimsuits — not swim trunks).
  • Sleepwear/loungewear. Comfy streetwear — such as shorts, leggings, T-shirts, tank tops, yoga pants, and other lightweight athletic gear — can be used as pajamas, post-dinner loungewear, and a modest cover-up to get you to the bathroom down the hall.

 

Documents, Money, and Travel Info

  • Money belt (or neck wallet). This flat, hidden, zippered pouch — worn around your waist (or like a necklace) and tucked under your clothes — is essential for the peace of mind it brings. You could lose everything except your money belt, and the trip could still go on. Get a lightweight one with a low-profile color (I like beige). For more, see my article on money belts.
  • Money. Bring your preferred mix of a debit card, a credit card, and an emergency stash of hard US cash (in $20 bills).
  • Documents. Bring your passport; plane, train, and rental car documents or vouchers; driver’s license; and any other useful cards (student ID, hostel membership card, and so on). Photocopies and a couple of passport-type photos can help you get replacements more quickly if the originals are lost or stolen. In your luggage, pack a record of all reservations (print out your hotel confirmation emails). Bring any necessary contact info if you have health or travel insurance.
  • Guidebooks and maps. Pack the travel info you’ll need on the ground (or download it into your ereader).
  • Small notepad and pen. A tiny notepad in your back pocket or day pack is a great organizer, reminder, and communication aid.
  • Journal. An empty book to be filled with the experiences of your trip will be your most treasured souvenir. Attach a photocopied calendar page of your itinerary. Use a hardbound type designed to last a lifetime, rather than a floppy spiral notebook. My custom-designed Rick Steves Travel Journals are rugged, simple blank books that come in two sizes. Another great brand, with a cult following among travel writers, is Moleskine.
  • Small day pack. A lightweight pack is great for carrying your sweater, camera, guidebook, and picnic goodies while you leave your large bag at the hotel or train station. Don’t use a fanny pack — they’re magnets for pickpockets.

 

Toiletries and Personal Items

  • Toiletries kit. Because sinks in many hotels come with meager countertop space, prefer a kit that can hang on a hook or a towel bar. Before cramming it with every cosmetic item you think you might use, ask yourself what toiletries you can live without for a short time. For your overseas flight, put all squeeze bottles in sealable plastic baggies, since pressure changes can cause even good bottles to leak. Pack your own bar of soap or small bottle of shampoo if you want to avoid using hotel bathroom "itsy-bitsies" and minimize waste and garbage.
  • Medicine and vitamins. Even if you check your suitcase on the flight, always carry on essential toiletries, including any prescription medications (don’t let the time difference trick you into forgetting a dose). Keep medicine in original containers, if possible, with legible prescriptions.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Glasses/contacts/sunglasses. Contact-lens solutions are widely available in Europe. Carry your lens prescription, as well as extra glasses, in a solid protective case. If it’s a sunny season, pack along sunglasses, especially if they’re prescription.
  • Sealable plastic baggies. Bring a variety of sizes. In addition to holding your carry-on liquids, they’re ideal for packing leftover picnic food, containing wetness, and bagging potential leaks before they happen. The two-gallon jumbo size can be used to pack (and compress) clothing or do laundry. Bring extras for the flight home.
  • Laundry soap. A tiny box of detergent or a plastic squeeze bottle of concentrated, multipurpose, biodegradable liquid soap is handy for laundry. For a spot remover, bring a few Shout wipes or a dab of Goop grease remover in a small plastic container.
  • Clothesline. Hang it up in your hotel room to dry your clothes. The twisted-rubber type needs no clothespins.
  • Small towel/washcloth. You’ll find bath towels at all fancy and moderately priced hotels, and most cheap ones. Some people bring a thin hand towel for the occasional need. Washcloths are rare in Europe, so you might want to pack a quick-drying microfiber one. Disposable washcloths that pack dry but lather up when wet (such as Olay’s 4-in-1 Daily Facial Cloths) are another option; cut them in half to make them last longer.
  • Sewing kit. Clothes age rapidly while traveling. Add a few safety pins and extra buttons.
  • Small packet of tissues. Stick one of these in your day pack, in case you wind up at a bathroom with no toilet paper.
  • Travel alarm/wristwatch. Make sure you have an alarm to wake yourself up (your smartphone, a little clock, etc.). At budget hotels, wake-up calls are particularly unreliable.
  • Earplugs. If night noises bother you, you’ll love a good set of expandable foam plugs. They’re handy for snoozing on trains and flights, too.
  • Hairdryer. These are generally provided in $100-plus hotel rooms. If you can’t risk a bad-hair day, buy a cheap, compact hairdryer in Europe or bring a travel-friendly one from home.

 

Electronics

Note that many of these things are high-ticket items; guard them carefully or consider insuring them.

  • Smartphone/mobile phone. Bring your smartphone to keep in touch with folks back home and for accessing resources on the road such as email, travel apps, and GPS. If you just want to make calls or send texts, a simple US mobile phone might work perfectly in Europe — or you can buy a cheap mobile phone to use while you’re there.
  • Digital camera. Take along an extra memory card and battery, and don’t forget the charger and a cable for downloading images.
  • Tablet, ereader, or portable media player. Download apps, ebooks, and music before you leave home.
  • Laptop. If you’ve got a lot of work to do, or want to keep your photoblog updated, a laptop can be worth the weight.
  • USB flash drive. If you’re traveling with a laptop, a flash drive can be handy for backing up files and photos. As an alternative, consider free cloud storage sites — such as Amazon Cloud Drive, Apple iCloud, or Dropbox — that you can access anywhere.
  • GPS device. If you’ll be doing a lot of driving and have a portable GPS device at home, you could buy European map data to use on vacation.
  • Headphones/earbuds. These are a must for listening to music, tuning in to audio tours, or simply drowning out whiny kids on the plane. (I never travel without my noise-canceling Bose headphones.) Bring a Y-jack so you and a partner can plug in headphones at the same time.
  • Chargers and batteries. Bring each device’s charger, or look into getting a charger capable of charging multiple devices at once.
  • Plug adapter(s). For more, see my tips on adapters and converters.

 

Optional Bring-Alongs

  • Picnic supplies. Bring a plastic plate (handy for dinner in your hotel room), cup, spoon, fork, and maybe salt and pepper. The Fozzils picnic set folds completely flat. Buy a Swiss Army–type knife with a corkscrew and can opener in Europe (or bring one from home if you’re checking your luggage on the plane).
  • Water bottle. The plastic half-liter mineral water bottles sold throughout Europe are reusable and work great. If you bring one from home, make sure it’s empty before you go through airport security (fill it at a drinking fountain once you’re through).
  • Fold-up tote bag. Look for a large-capacity tote bag that rolls up into a pocket-size pouch. Use it for laundry, picnics, and those extra souvenirs you want to take back home.
  • Small flashlight. Handy for reading under the sheets after "lights out" in the hostel, late-night trips down the hall, exploring castle dungeons, and hypnotizing street thieves. Tiny-but-powerful LED flashlights — about the size of your little finger — are extremely bright, compact, and lightweight. Camping-type headlamps also do the trick.
  • Small binoculars. For scenery or church interiors.
  • Inflatable pillow (or neck rest). These are great for snoozing in planes, trains, and automobiles. Some travelers also swear by an eye mask for blocking out early-rising or late-setting sun.
  • Duct tape. A small roll of duct tape can work miracles as a temporary fix — mending a punctured bag, solving an emergency shoe problem, and so on. Conserve space by spooling only as much as you might need (less than a foot) around a short pencil or dowel.
  • Insect repellent. Bring some along if you’re prone to bites and are going somewhere especially bug-ridden.
  • Tiny lock. Use it to lock your backpack zippers shut. Note that if you check your bag on a flight, the lock may be broken to allow the bag to be inspected. Improve the odds of your lock’s survival by buying one approved by the Transportation Security Administration — security agents can open the lock with a special master key. Or buy plastic locks or zip-ties to secure zippers — be sure to pack fingernail clippers or TSA-approved scissors so you can open them when you arrive.
  • Universal drain-stopper. Some hotel sinks and tubs have no stoppers. This flat, flexible plastic disc — which works with any size drain — allows you to wash your clothes or take a bath.
  • Office supplies. Bring paper, pens, envelopes (for letter writers), and some sticky notes (such as Post-Its) to keep your place in your guidebook.
  • Address list. If you’ll want to mail postcards, you could print your mailing list onto a sheet of adhesive address labels before you leave. You’ll know exactly who you’ve written to, and the labels will be perfectly legible.
  • Postcards/photos from home. A collection of show-and-tell pictures (either digital or paper) is always a great conversation piece with Europeans you meet.
  • A good book. There’s plenty of empty time on a trip to either be bored or enjoy some good reading. Popular English-language paperbacks are often available in European airports and major train stations. An ereader carries lots of books without the additional weight (and you can easily buy more as you go).
  • Gifts. If you’ll be the guest of local hosts, show your appreciation with small, unique souvenirs from your hometown.
  • Hostel sheet. These days, sheets are usually included in the price of a hostel, and if they aren’t, you can rent one for about $5 per stay. Still, you might want to bring along a sheet (silk is lighter and smaller, cotton is cheaper), which can double as a beach/picnic blanket and cover you up on overnight train rides.

 

HEALTH & HYGINE RELATED TIPS

Take precautions on the flight. Long flights are dehydrating. Eat lightly, stay hydrated, and have no coffee or alcohol and only minimal sugar until the flight’s almost over. Avoid the slight chance of getting a blood clot in your leg during long flights by taking short walks hourly. While seated, flex your ankles and don’t cross your legs. Some people are more prone to clots (factors include obesity, age, genetics, smoking, and use of oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy).

 

Eat nutritiously. The longer your trip, the more you’ll be affected by an inadequate diet. Budget travelers often eat more carbohydrates and less protein to stretch their travel dollars. This is the root of many health problems. Protein helps you resist infection and rebuilds muscles. Get the most nutritional mileage from your protein by eating it with the day’s largest meal (in the presence of all those essential amino acids). Supplemental super-vitamins, taken regularly, help me to at least feel healthy.

 

Use good judgment when eating out (and outside Europe). Avoid unhealthy-looking restaurants. Meat should be well cooked (unless, of course, you’re eating sushi, carpaccio, etc.) and, in some places, avoided altogether. Have “well done” written on a piece of paper in the pertinent language and use it when ordering. Pre-prepared foods gather germs (a common cause of diarrhea). Outside of Europe, be especially cautious. When in serious doubt, eat only thick-skinned fruit...peeled.

 

Keep clean. Wash your hands often, keep your nails clean, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Hand sanitizers, such as Purell, can be helpful. However, since they target bacteria, not viruses, they should be used as an adjunct to, rather than a replacement for, hand washing with soap and warm water.

 

Practice safe sex. Sexually transmitted diseases are widespread. Obviously, the best way to prevent acquiring an STD is to avoid exposure. Condoms (readily available at pharmacies and from restroom vending machines) are fairly effective in preventing transmission. HIV is also a risk, especially among prostitutes.

 

Exercise. Physically, travel is great living — healthy food, lots of activity, fresh air, and all those stairs! If you’re a couch potato, try to get in shape before your trip by taking long walks. People who regularly work out have plenty of options for keeping in shape while traveling. Biking is a great way to burn some calories — and get intimate with a destination. Traveling runners can enjoy Europe from a special perspective — at dawn. Swimmers will find that Europe has plenty of good, inexpensive public swimming pools. Whatever your racket, if you want to badly enough, you’ll find ways to keep in practice as you travel. Most big-city private tennis and swim clubs welcome foreign guests for a small fee, which is a good way to make friends as well as stay fit.

 

Get enough sleep. Know how much sleep you need to stay healthy (generally 7–8 hours per night). If you go more than two nights with fewer than six hours’ sleep, make it a priority to catch up — no matter how busy you are. Otherwise, you are virtually guaranteed to get the sniffles.

 

Give yourself psychological pep talks. Europe can do to certain travelers what southern France did to Vincent van Gogh. Romantics can get the sensory bends, patriots can get their flags burned, and anyone can suffer from culture shock. It will challenge givens that you always assumed were above the test of reason, and most of Europe on the street doesn’t really care that much about what you, the historical and cultural pilgrim, have waited so long to see.

 

TOURIST SCAMS & RIP OFFS

Europe is a surprisingly creative place when it comes to travel scams. Many of the most successful gambits require a naive and trusting tourist. But don’t think it can’t happen to more sophisticated travelers, too. There are many subtle ways to be scammed — a cabbie pads your fare, a shop clerk suddenly inflates prices, a public Internet terminal records your password, or a waiter offers a special with a “special” increased price. Be smart: Know what you are paying for before handing over money, and always count your change.

Scam artists come in all shapes and sizes. But if you’re cautious and not overly trusting, you should have no problem. Here are some clever ways European crooks bolster their cash flow.

Such a Deal!

If a bargain seems too good to be true...it’s too good to be true.

The “Found” Ring: An innocent-looking person picks up a ring on the ground in front of you and asks if you dropped it. When you say no, the person examines the ring more closely, then shows you a mark “proving” that it’s pure gold. He offers to sell it to you for a good price — which is several times more than he paid for it before dropping it on the sidewalk.

The “Friendship” Bracelet: A vendor approaches you and aggressively asks if you’ll help him with a “demonstration.” He proceeds to make a friendship bracelet right on your arm. When finished, he asks you to pay a premium for the bracelet he created just for you. And, since you can’t easily take it off on the spot, you feel obliged to pay up. (These sorts of distractions by “salesmen” can also function as a smokescreen for theft — an accomplice is picking your pocket as you try to wriggle away from the pushy vendor.)

Salesman in Distress: A well-spoken, well-dressed gentleman approaches you and explains that he’s a leather jacket salesman, and he needs directions to drive to a nearby landmark. He chats you up (“Oh, really? My wife is from Chicago!”) and soon you’ve made a new friend. That’s when he reaches in his car and pulls out a “designer leather jacket” which he’d like to give to you as a thank you for your helpfulness. Oh, and by the way, his credit card isn’t working, and could you please give him some cash to buy gas? He takes off with the cash, and you later realize that you’ve paid way too much for your new vinyl jacket.

Money Matters: Any time money changes hands, be alert, even when using ATMs. When dealing with the public, keep your cards in your sight, or much easier and safer, pay cash. But even paying with cash can have its challenges.

Slow Count: Cashiers who deal with lots of tourists thrive on the slow count. Even in banks, they’ll count your change back with odd pauses in hopes the rushed tourist will gather up the money early and say “Grazie.”

Switcheroo — You Lose: Be careful when you pay with too large a bill for a small payment. Clearly state the value of the bill as you hand it over. Some cabbies or waiters will pretend to drop a large bill and pick up a hidden small one in order to shortchange a tourist. Get familiar with the currency and check the change you’re given: The valuable €2 coin resembles several coins that are either worthless or worth much less: the 500-lira coin (from Italy’s former currency), Turkey’s 1-lira coin, and Thailand’s 10-baht coin.

Talkative Cashiers: The shop’s cashier seems to be speaking on her phone when you hand her your credit card. But listen closely and you may hear the sound of the phone’s camera shutter, as she takes a picture of your card. It can make you want to pay cash for most purchases.

The Attractive Flirt: A single male traveler is approached by a gorgeous woman on the street. After chatting for a while, she seductively invites him for a drink at a nearby nightclub. But when the bill arrives, it’s several hundred dollars more than he expected. Only then does he notice the burly bouncers guarding the exits. There are several variations on this scam. Sometimes, the scam artist is disguised as a lost tourist; in other cases, it’s simply a gregarious local person who (seemingly) just wants to show you his city. Either way, be suspicious when invited for a drink by someone you just met; if you want to go out together, suggest a bar (or café) of your choosing instead.

Oops! You’re jostled in a crowd as someone spills ketchup or fake pigeon poop on your shirt. The thief offers profuse apologies while dabbing it up — and pawing your pockets. There are variations: Someone drops something, you kindly pick it up, and you lose your wallet. Or, even worse, someone throws a baby into your arms as your pockets are picked. Assume beggars are pickpockets. Treat any commotion (a scuffle breaking out, a beggar in your face) as fake — designed to distract unknowing victims. If an elderly woman falls down an escalator, stand back and guard your valuables, then...carefully...move in to help.

The “Helpful” Local: Thieves posing as concerned locals will warn you to store your wallet safely — and then steal it after they see where you stash it. If someone wants to help you use an ATM, politely refuse (they’re just after your PIN code). Some thieves put out tacks and ambush drivers with their “assistance” in changing the tire. Others hang out at subway ticket machines eager to “help” you, the bewildered tourist, buy tickets with a pile of your quickly disappearing foreign cash. If using a station locker, beware of the “Hood Samaritan” who may have his own key to a locker he’d like you to use. And skip the helping hand from official-looking railroad attendants at the Rome train station. They’ll help you find your seat...then demand a “tip.”

Young Thief Gangs: These are common all over urban southern Europe, especially in the touristy areas of Milan, Florence, and Rome. Groups of boys or girls with big eyes, troubled expressions, and colorful raggedy clothes politely mob the unsuspecting tourist, beggar-style. As their pleading eyes grab yours and they hold up their pathetic message scrawled on cardboard, you’re fooled into thinking that they’re beggars. All the while, your purse or backpack is being expertly rifled. If you’re wearing a money belt and you understand what’s going on here, there’s nothing to fear. In fact, having a street thief’s hand slip slowly into your pocket becomes just one more interesting cultural experience.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

The sneakiest pickpockets look like well-dressed businesspeople, generally with something official-looking in their hand. Some pose as tourists, with day packs, cameras, and even guidebooks. Don’t be fooled by looks, impressive uniforms, femme fatales, or hard-luck stories.

Fake Charity Petition: You’re at a popular sight when someone thrusts a petition at you. It’s likely a woman or a teen who, often pretending to be deaf, will try to get you to sign an official-looking petition, supposedly in support of a charity (the petition is often in English, which should be a clue). The petitioner then demands a cash donation. At best, anyone who falls for this scam is out some euros; at worst, they’re pickpocketed while distracted by the petitioner.

Phony Police: Two thieves in uniform — posing as “Tourist Police” — stop you on the street, flash their bogus badges, and ask to check your wallet for counterfeit bills or “drug money.” You won’t even notice some bills are missing until after they leave. Never give your wallet to anyone.

Room “Inspectors”: There’s a knock at your door and two men claim to be the hotel’s room inspectors. One waits outside while the other comes in to take a look around. While you’re distracted, the first thief slips in and takes valuables left on a dresser. Don’t let people into your room if you weren’t expecting them. Call down to the hotel desk if “inspectors” suddenly turn up.

The Broken Camera: Everyone is taking pictures of a famous sight, and someone comes up with a camera or cell phone and asks that you take his picture. But the camera or cell phone doesn’t seem to work. When you hand it back, the “tourist” fumbles and drops it on the ground, where it breaks into pieces. He will either ask you to pay for repairs (don’t do it) or lift your wallet while you are bending over to pick up the broken object.

The Stripper: You see a good-looking woman arguing with a street vendor. The vendor accuses her of shoplifting, which she vehemently denies. To prove her innocence, she starts taking off her clothes — very slowly. Once she’s down to her underwear, the vendor apologizes and she leaves. Suddenly all the men in the crowd find out that their wallets have “left,” too, thanks to a team of pickpockets working during the show.

 

SITUATIONAL AWARENESS

Avoid confrontational situations and any large gatherings of people that you don’t normally associate with such as demonstrations and protests. If at any stage a situation just doesn’t feel right, then walk away.

HOSTILE SITUATIONS

If you’re unfortunate to be in the vicinity of a hostile or violent incident, leave immediately and contact the police. If you’re unable to leave, find somewhere to hide, lock the door, keep as quiet as possible (remember to turn your phone to silent) and contact the police.