Do you want to backpack through Europe? It’s the experience of a lifetime—college students and post-college grads, in particular, adopt an adventurous spirit and become wandering souls. Traveling the globe creates amazing experiences and opens you up to immeasurable lessons about yourself, other cultures and the world.
Of course, you don’t want to put yourself in a dangerous situation. You can’t completely abandon caution and common sense. Some of the risks associated with a backpacking adventure include pickpockets, identity theft and physical harm. For a safer backpacking trip, follow these traveling tips:
- Use a locking backpack. A lock serves as a deterrent to anyone thinking about rifling through your stuff. Lock up your belongings whenever you’re staying at a hostel or lodging, and never leave your bag unattended.
- Look purposeful. Be prepared and aware of your surroundings. Always have a destination when you are out walking, whether sightseeing or heading to your next city or country. Looking lost, aimless or confused attracts unwanted attention and makes you a target.
- Limit your alcohol intake. When you’re in a foreign country, especially if traveling alone, you’ll want to keep your wits about you. Avoid overindulging in alcohol, which will impair your judgment and make you look vulnerable.
- Beware of shoulder surfers. Shoulder surfing is a trend in fraud and identity theft around the world: A thief stands near or right behind you while you complete a transaction. They’ll use the guise that they are talking on their cell phone, when they are really using it to record your transaction, often by video or photograph. Once they document your personal information, the thief will use your credit card number or other data to make fraudulent transactions.
- Use zippers. Wear clothing and jackets with zippered pockets. Zippers can also secure important items like cash, a cell phone and a wallet.
You’ll also want to think about bringing along the following items on your trip:
- A list of emergency phone numbers (emergency contacts, bank and credit card companies, your identity monitoring service, etc.)
- A money belt to wear to help keep cash hidden and secure
- Extra cash that’s hidden well
- Copies of your tickets and passport
- Extra international calling cards
- Extra ATM card
- Travel/medical insurance
- A first aid kit
Despite all traveling caveats, you know you’re in Europe to have an incredible time. Real dangers exist, but with proper preparation, you can enjoy your trip without a hitch. Take the time and steps to protect yourself while you’re traveling abroad. Also, be friendly and courteous when traveling abroad, and you will most likely be treated the same way throughout your journey. You’ll mitigate most risk by practicing common sense—no matter where you end up in the world.
Guest post by Jennifer Turner. Jenn is a travel guide who arranges eco tours in South America.