Travel blog

How to Avoid Pickpockets in Europe

Posted by YMT Vacations on Mar 12, 2020 8:30:00 AM


Europe is a gorgeous place to visit. There is so much culture to experience and endless historic sites to see. What the eye can’t see, however, is the occasional pickpocket. While pickpocketing is something every vacationer worries about, it won’t be a problem if you are smart about how you travel.

With the proper travel tips and preparation, you shouldn’t feel nervous as you explore new countries. Here’s how to avoid pickpockets when traveling, so you can focus on enjoying your trip.

Make Photocopies of Important Documents

Remember that less is more if you’re trying to avoid pickpockets. You’ll always worry about where your passport is if you take it along on every tour. For peace of mind, make photocopies of your passport and license before your trip. You will still need the hard copies when you’re entering new countries, but you won’t need them when you’re out touring European sites. And while the photocopies are less valuable than the hard copies, don’t misplace them. Keep these travel documents safe and protected since they still contain personal information.

If you’d rather not carry around a photocopy of your passport, you can also save a digital copy within your phone or save it in an email. This way, you could always access a copy if you were to lose both your passport and the photocopy. Consider bringing along additional passport photos as well. If you do lose your passport, you’ll be able to easily apply for a new one with the extra photos.

When Carrying Around Money, Keep It Secure

The best way to carry cash when traveling in Europe is to be discrete and vigilant. Never put your money in an easy-to-reach spot, like your back pocket or a large shoulder bag. A pickpocket can easily slip their hand in without you knowing. Instead, keep your money in your sights at all times.

Women should invest in a crossbody bag. It sits in front of your body, and you can keep a hand on it. Men should place wallets in their front pocket or an inside zippered coat pocket. To avoid a bulky wallet sticking out, invest in a slim one that will be less noticeable. Your goal is to prevent yourself from being an easy target. A pickpocket will likely move onto someone else in the crowd if they cannot spot any vulnerable items (like loose cash or a bulky wallet) on or near your person.

If you’re shopping or eating, never leave your wallet or bag unattended — even if that means keeping it on your lap during a meal. Pickpockets are likely to strike when you are the most unguarded, so don’t put your items on the back of your chair, the floor, or the table. Even if you’re in your hotel lobby, keep your bag and luggage directly by your side. It’s easier for someone to walk away with your luggage if you leave it unattended.

When it’s time to pay for your purchase, don’t pull out a large chunk of cash. This is a signal to pickpockets that you’re a good target. Instead, carry only the amount of cash that you plan to spend that day, making yourself less vulnerable to pickpockets. You can also carry cash in different areas, like both your front pocket and inner coat pocket. If a pickpocket targets you, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to steal from multiple places at once.

Be Vigilant in Crowds

Pickpocketers are smart, which is why they flock to areas where dense crowds form. They know big crowds mean many tourists with their guards down, so when you’re in these crowds, stay vigilant. But if you’ve followed our tips for carrying around cash safely, you’ll be less vulnerable in situations like these.

Stay alert on trains, metros, and packed buses. Pickpockets will take advantage of the crowded setting to “accidentally” bump into you. Don’t drop your guard at the airport, either. Keep your belongings close and your eyes open. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the less likely you’ll be an easy target.

Leave Unnecessary Valuables Behind


Just as you shouldn’t carry around a hard copy of your passport with you on your tour, don’t bring anything else you won’t be needing that day. Leave laptops and valuable jewelry behind in your hotel or on your cruise ship. If you decide to wear expensive jewelry on the day of your tour, do not take it off. Wear it until you return to your room. This way, you won’t have to worry about misplacing it or keeping track of it throughout the day.

While your hotel room and cruise ship room are safest for your belongings, exercise caution when leaving for the day. Lock your room or store items in a safe with a hard-to-crack passcode. A passcode like “0000” or “1234” is too easy to guess.

Don’t Let Pickpockets Keep You from Traveling

Pickpocketing can happen anywhere in the world, not just in Europe. As long as you exercise caution, you will still have fun while sightseeing. If your hand is on your crossbody bag, a pickpocket is less likely to walk away with it. If you’ve zipped up your pockets, it will be harder for someone to quickly reach in and swipe something. With these protective measures in place, you won’t have to worry as much. With less worrying, you’ll be able to have more fun.

If the worst does happen and you do have some things stolen, don’t panic. For credit cards, you can contact your bank and put a hold on your card so a pickpocket can’t use it. And if you lose your phone, you may be able to find it via the Find-My-Phone function, or you can call your wireless carrier lock your SIM card.

There are plenty of ways to ensure you travel safely, no matter where your destination may be. The important thing is to remember to be vigilant and follow these tips to avoid pickpockets. If you are on a group tour with YMT Vacations, we want you to be prepared so you can focus more on enjoying your trip.   

To learn more about YMT Vacations guided tour destinations, call our Travel Consultants at 1-888-756-9072.

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Topics: Travel Tips, International Travel