Safety tips and helpful advice for backpacking in Europe
Guest post by Damien Troy
For many people, the conventional holiday abroad is slightly dull, and would prefer to throw themselves straight into the culture and environment of a foreign country. However, when backpacking in Europe, particularly on your own, there can be many safety issues attached to that. Think about it – you are rather vulnerable as you try to navigate yourself in a country that you may have never set foot in before. So, before you’ve even confirmed your flight, we would always suggest completing your European Health Insurance Card renewal, otherwise should any injuries occur whilst backpacking, you’ll be using all of your savings to recover!
#1 | Thoroughly Lock Your Backpack
Unfortunately, when backpacking around Europe, the standard backpack zip just isn’t enough. Europe is home to some very beautiful countries such as Austria or Switzerland, so it can be easy to become submerged in these stunning views and put the safety of your backpack to the back of your mind! Locals get to see these views every day, and so they can take advantage of you whilst you’re unaware and steal the contents of your backpack. Therefore, whilst it may seem unnecessary, we suggest putting padlocks on your backpack for additional peace of mind.
#2 | Only Carry What’s Necessary
Even if you follow the above step, there may still be a moment where your backpack is left slightly unprotected. So, to prevent a large volume of items being stolen, you should only carry what is completely necessary for your day out, and leave any other items back at your hotel, or hostel if you’re staying there. Although, even then, hostels can seem unsecure, so when carrying an abundance of items in your backpack, put them in the most inaccessible place, as this way thieves will find it difficult to steal them. Never put any items in the very front pocket either – it’s very easy to access, and people usually put valuables such as phones in there due to their small size. Don’t fall into that trap!
#3 | Enjoy Nightlife In Groups
If you’re backpacking with a group of friends, this step is particularly easy for you, if solo however, it becomes a little more difficult. Using a hostel as a form of accommodation can help you to make friends with similar people, so it’s definitely worth experiencing the nightlife with them if they’re interested. Just like in the UK, the nights can often be dangerous depending on who’s around, so never leave yourself vulnerable and in danger by wandering alone in the dark.
#4 | Only Use Registered Radio Taxis
It’s a common occurrence for private taxis to mug their customers, which is why we recommend you never use them. Unfortunately, registered taxis do cost a little bit more, but what’s worth saving – you’re life or a little bit of money? Using registered radio taxis will keep you as safe as possible when needing to travel longer distances. The best way to find these is to inquire at your hotel, restaurant or bar, and allow them to call the taxi for you.
#5 | Thoroughly Learn About The Culture
Educating yourself on the local culture is one of the best ways to remain safe when backpacking in Europe. Whether that’s via a little Google search on your mobile along the way, or you read up about the culture in a few books before you depart, it doesn’t matter – as long as you understand what is and isn’t tolerated. Cultures are so diverse, and you’d be surprised at how many mannerisms may be considered offensive in one country, when they’re completely indifferent in another.