How to Avoid Pickpockets in Europe: Tips and Tricks for Safe Travel

Pickpocketing is a common problem in Europe, and it can happen to anyone, even the most experienced travelers. It can be a frustrating and even traumatic experience, but you can minimise your chances of being the target of a pickpocket if you take the right precautions and don’t let your guard down. 

Choosing the right bag is one of the best ways to avoid pickpockets. Pickpockets and thieves often target backpacks and purses with easy-access pockets, so choosing a bag that is difficult to open or cut is best. Crossbody and messenger bags that can be worn across the body are ideal, as they are more difficult to snatch. In addition, it is a good idea to choose a bag that is not too flashy or expensive-looking, as this can attract unwanted attention.

Carrying your valuables safely and securely is also crucial. Keep your wallet, phone, and other valuables in a zippered or buttoned pocket, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash. If you must carry cash, keep it in multiple pockets or a money belt worn under your clothes. Taking these precautions can greatly reduce the risk of falling victim to pickpockets.

And above all else, be aware of your surroundings and use common sense like you would at home. Any commotion in busy areas like the metro stations or train stations and popular tourist spots such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris are prime operating areas for you to get pickpocketed.

Pickpockets often operate in busy train stations when tourists are distracted.

Even standing around to watch a street performance, get money from an ATM, asking you to sign a petition or simply bumping into you as you exit a museum can be enough to have them steal your wallet.

Key Takeaways

  • Choosing the right bag and securely carrying your valuables can greatly reduce the risk of pickpocketing.
  • Awareness of your surroundings and avoiding crowded areas can also help prevent pickpocketing.
  • Protecting your documents, such as your passport and ID, is important in case your bag is stolen.

Choosing the Right Bag

When traveling to Europe, choosing the right bag to avoid pickpockets is important. Here are some tips to help you choose the right bag:

Wear a Crossbody Bag

Wearing a crossbody or messenger bag is a great way to keep your belongings safe. This bag is worn across the body, making it difficult for pickpockets to grab and run. When choosing a crossbody bag, ensure it has a sturdy strap around that can’t be easily cut or snapped.

Use a Bag with Zippers and Flaps

Bags with zippers and flaps are more difficult for pickpockets to access quickly. Look for bags with multiple compartments and zippers that can be locked or secured with a clip. Flaps that cover the bag’s opening can also make it more difficult for pickpockets to reach in without being noticed.

When choosing a bag with zippers and flaps, ensure the zippers are sturdy and can’t be easily opened without your knowledge. It’s also important to choose a bag that is made of durable material and can withstand wear and tear.

Remember, the best way to avoid pickpockets is to stay aware of your surroundings and always keep your belongings close to you. Choosing the right bag can make it more difficult for pickpockets to target you and your belongings.

Carrying Your Valuables

When traveling in Europe, keeping your valuables safe and secure is a top priority. There are several ways to carry your belongings that can help prevent pickpocketing.

Keep Valuables in Front Pockets

One of the easiest ways to avoid pickpocketing is to keep your valuables in your front pockets. This makes it much more difficult for a pickpocket to reach in and grab your wallet or phone. It’s also a good idea to keep your hands in your pockets when walking through crowded areas to further protect your belongings.

Use Hidden Pockets or Money Belts

Another way to keep your valuables safe is to use hidden pockets or money belts. These are designed to be worn under your clothing and can hold your passport, credit cards, and cash. This makes it nearly impossible for a pickpocket to access your belongings without your knowledge.

When choosing a hidden pocket or money belt, look for one made of durable material with a secure closure. Some options even come with RFID-blocking technology to protect against electronic pickpocketing.

Overall, keeping your valuables safe while traveling in Europe requires a combination of vigilance and smart packing. Following these tips can help prevent pickpocketing and enjoy your trip with peace of mind.

Being Aware of Your Surroundings

When avoiding pickpockets in Europe, being aware of your surroundings is crucial. This means staying alert in crowded areas and avoiding distractions. Here are some tips to help you stay aware and avoid becoming a victim of pickpocketing.

Pickpockets operate everywhere. Even inside museums

Stay Alert in Crowded Areas

Pickpockets often target crowded areas, such as public transportation, tourist attractions, museums and busy streets. In these situations, staying alert and aware of your surroundings is important. Here are some tips:

  • Keep your belongings close to your body, such as in a crossbody bag or front pocket. Even wear your backpack on your front if travelling with one.
  • Avoid carrying valuables, such as expensive jewellery or large amounts of cash.
  • Be wary of anyone who bumps into you or tries to create a distraction or commotion around you.
  • If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, move to a different area or seek assistance from a police officer or security guard.

Avoid Distractions

Pickpockets use distractions to divert your attention from your luggage or belongings. Here are some common tactics to watch out for:

  • Someone asks for directions or tries to engage you in conversation while their accomplice steals your belongings.
  • Someone spills something on you, such as food or drink, while their accomplice steals your belongings.
  • Someone drops something in front of you while their accomplice steals your belongings.

To avoid falling for these distractions, keep your focus on your surroundings and your belongings. Don’t let anyone distract you or get too close to you. If someone tries to engage you in conversation or distract you in any way, be polite but firm and keep moving.

By staying aware of your surroundings and avoiding distractions, you can greatly reduce your risk of becoming a victim of pickpocketing while traveling in Europe.

Protecting Your Documents

When traveling in Europe, keeping your important documents safe from pickpockets is important. Here are some tips to help you protect your documents:

Make Copies of Important Documents

Before leaving for your trip, make copies of important documents such as your passport, driver’s license, and credit cards. Keep one set of copies with you and leave another with a trusted friend or family member at home. If your documents are lost or stolen, having copies can make it easier to replace them.

You can also consider scanning your documents and storing them electronically. This way, you can access them from anywhere with an internet connection.

Store Documents in a Safe Place

When traveling, keeping your documents in a safe place where pickpockets can’t easily reach them is important. Here are some suggestions:

  • Wear a money belt around your waist or a neck wallet around your neck to keep your documents close to your body.
  • Keep your documents in a zipped pocket or a bag with a secure closure.
  • Consider using a hostel safe (if available) or locking them in your hostel locker to store your documents when you’re not carrying them.

It’s also a good idea to avoid carrying all your important documents simultaneously. Leave some of them in your hostel room or other secure location, and only carry what you need for the day.

By taking these precautions, you can help protect your important documents and avoid becoming a victim of pickpocketing while traveling in Europe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is pickpocketing bad in Europe?

Pickpocketing is a common problem in Europe, especially in touristy areas and big cities. However, it is important to note that not all of Europe is affected by pickpocketing equally. Some cities and regions are more prone to pickpocketing than others.

Why are there so many pickpockets in Europe?

There are many reasons why pickpocketing is prevalent in Europe. The most common reasons include the high number of tourists, crowded public transportation systems, and the availability of valuable targets for pickpockets and thieves to operate in. 

What are the most common places pickpockets hang out?

Pickpockets love to target crowded areas such as public transportation, tourist attractions, and busy shopping areas. They also tend to operate in areas where tourists are more likely to let their guard down, such as restaurants and cafes. 

What are the worst cities in Europe for Pickpockets?

Some of the worst cities for pickpockets in Europe include Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Prague, London and Amsterdam. However, it’s worth noting that pickpockets operate anywhere, so it is important to stay vigilant no matter where you are.

Who are the pickpockets?

Pickpockets can be anyone, from organized criminal gangs to individuals looking to make a quick profit. They often work in groups and use distraction techniques to steal from unsuspecting tourists.

What is the best bag to avoid pickpockets in Europe?

The best bag to avoid pickpockets in Europe is anti-theft and has multiple compartments. A cross-body or messenger bag worn in front of the body is also a good option.

How do you outsmart a pickpocket?

To outsmart a pickpocket, being aware of your surroundings and keeping your valuables close to your body is important. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and keep important documents in a secure location.

What do pickpockets look for?

Pickpockets look for easy targets, such as distracted tourists or those carrying valuable items. Pickpockets don’t want to get caught in a confrontation or noticed so they prey on the easiest options.

How to prevent pickpockets in Europe?

To prevent pickpocketing in Europe, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables close to your body. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and keep important documents in a secure location. Use anti-theft bags and wallets when possible. And most importantly, use common sense to stay safe. The less you look like a tourist, the less chance you’ll end up as a target.