When I told my friends/colleagues that I’m going solo for my Europe trip, I have reactions like: “Wah, sibei(very) brave to travel Europe alone. Dangerous. Confirm kanna(get) robbed/pickpocket” “You know hor(ya), that one time my so-and-so went to Europe with a BIG group and kanna(got) rob. So hor(ya)…” So now I’m back (thank god, safely), just thought to share some tips. Some of them might be useful to you; some seems ridiculous while others might just be crazy but these are what work for me.
#1: Traveling is meant to be fun and brainless. Which is fine. But do bring your common sense along. It will help you stay alive. (If there is a dark empty alley, DO NOT walk in. This is called common sense)
#2: If you are visiting some popular touristy areas known for pickpockets, walk with some random walking tour groups. Walking in big group reduce the chances of being targeted by the pickpockets. And you get free explanation and guide of the place!
#3: Dress like a homeless (Honestly, this is more of a personal preference. I usually don’t care how I look when I’m overseas. Seriously no one knows me and I’m not there to hook up with some random chicks. So screw the hair gels, shaver and matching clothes). But I did saw some tourists who dress like a superstars walking along Champs-Élysées… So if your dream is to dress like Carrie or Samantha in Sex and the City and walk down Fifth Ave or the streets of Champs-Élysées, sure please go ahead. #4: Don’t hang your DSLR on your neck. Cause it scream “I AM A TOURIST VISTING YOUR COUNTRY”. Anyway iPhone cameras are good enough. If you die die need to have high resolution/professional photos of the scenery, just Google. Confirm will find a dozen of them. No need to take them yourself.
#5: Have two wallets. Got this advice from a friend. One is where you put your small change while another is to put the big notes and your credit cards. Keep the one with credit card safe (in your inner pocket of your jacket). So even if you got robbed, you can just throw the one with small changes at the robbers and run. I think it will work… If it works, please let me know: p
#6: Another advice from friend – Act like you being for a long while. Like an expat or student working/studying there.
#7: Be aware of your surrounding. If someone walks too closely beside/behind you (especially if the street is pretty empty), then something is not right. Walk into a shop or slow down to let him/her walk past you or walk into a more crowded street.
#8: Advice from friend – stuff spare cash and important contact details in your shoes. In case you got rob (including your jacket where you keep your second wallet), you still have some cash to head back to hotel and call the embassy or police.
#9: If you need help, approach the locals. An ex-colleague of mine once said this – ”To travel alone is to trust that mankind is naturally kind. You are at their mercy for help”. Well said.
#10: It’s a holiday. You are supposed to be relaxing, reflective and have an enjoyable experience. Don’t let fear of pickpockets; robbers robbed you of your experience and fun of traveling alone. Use a bit of common sense, you should be fine. If you let fear ruin your holidays or worse, stopped you from going, then you have already lost to the criminals.
These are just some pointers I have while I travelled overseas, and if you have any more advices, can share below!
Desmond Yong is the post contributor for this traveling advise. Do like him at his Facebook if you see him around.