Travel Advisories (updated 1/10/2018

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

6 Safety Tips for Seniors Traveling to Europe

6 Safety Tips for Seniors Traveling to Europe

All of us travel for the pleasure and adventure of exploring new and different cultures and sometimes in our enthusiasm we underestimate the potential risks involved with civil unrest being at the top of our lists. So this video is not about discouraging you from traveling Europe, but to put into perspective the reality of such risks.

Millions of Americans travel to Europe annually and have extraordinary experiences and never once have a this is about perspective. Keep the safety threats in the back of your mind, be aware, but not let them rule your every move and make you afraid to go out of your hotel room and explore.

#1 Get the lay of the Land – Check the current security level the State Department has assigned to every county. Locate a few current articles and Youtube videos that discuss personal safety to get oriented. Such warning levels are a “low-resolution image” of the potential safety risk. You will want to increase your resolution and dig a bit deeper to understand the places, in particular, you will explore.

#2 Enroll in the State Department Smart Traveler program. If anything does happen while overseas, the local embassy can locate you or alert you to any changes in threat status, or can notify your family back home.

#3 Practice “Situational Awareness”. Stay aware of your surroundings, especially in big metropolitan cities. Notice the intersecting street you are about to pass. Just take a quick glance. Notice the storefronts...anything out of the usual catch your eye?

Red flags should go up if you are walking down a sidewalk and a group of vocal men are coming toward you. Now, they may be quite harmless, but notice their demeanor, are they getting aggressive with each other or with strangers around them? If their presence make you uncomfortable, look for a way to quietly get out of their way. Head for a nearby shop and enter it, cross the street, or just turn around and look for a detour. You do not need to play superhero and get into a confrontation with them.

This is where a bit of understanding about group dynamics comes into play. One person alone is usually not a problem, but the demeanor of this person can quickly change once his is under the influence of a group. But the threat is not just roving gangs; in Europe, the greater threat is from people who look quite nice and normal. They are not about doing you bodily harm...they just want your stuff.

#4 Pickpockets. Let's face it...tourists become targets for all kinds of scams and pickpocket schemes. Visit our blog and (give a special reference here) and watch a few videos on this topic. I'll give one example. A young mother may be pregnant or is leaning over her baby carrier or child in a stroller. You think it's a cute scene so you stop and start a little chit chat with the woman and gush over her child. You are unaware that you have been set up and her companion comes up behind you and slashes your day pack and takes whatever comes out...within seconds and disappears.

A lot of these attacks occur in crowds, so be aware of the crowd you may be walking in. Congested areas like airport lines, entering and exiting city buses or trains or subways are points of contact with the pickpocket. So practice situational awareness, as you would any other city at home. Grip you shoulder bag a bit tighter, maybe even carry your daypack in front of you.

This list goes on and can change in a new study up on the tricks typically pulled.

#5 Don't look like a tourist and decrease your chances of becoming a target. Easier said than done. We have included in our Youtube playlist a discussion on this topic created by a channel named Wolters World. Personally, Claudia and I decided we are going to wear what we want to wear be it sneakers, ball caps or whatever makes our trip comfortable. One exception might be wearing any politically oriented shirts or caps. Just be forceful with the scammers. Just don't say anything and keep on not stop and be polite...chances are that is what they are wanting you to do. Don't fall for the technique.

#6 Nightime, ATM's and Ticket Kiosks. Explore the nightlights and nightlife in a group. Never go to an ATM after dark and have someone with you during the day if possible. Do not accept the help of a “friendly” local to help you get your money or help you at an automated ticket machine for a subway, bus, or train ticket. He or she could have a companion waiting for the opportunity to distract you and steal your stuff.

Okay, these are our top 6 things you can do to protect your safety. Again, remember, just keep your wits about you, practice situational awareness, and most of all enjoy your adventure!

Enjoy your tour regardless!

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Sources Referenced in this video:
State Department  Travel Advisory Levels by country
State Department Smart Traveler Program (go to the Trip Tips page and click the drop-down menu bar regarding the State Department. You will find it there):
Pickpockets video by Wolters World Youtube Channel: 13 Ways Pickpockets try to rob you:
For Travel-Related Accessories: 

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