PROTECTING YOUR VALUABLES. There are a few steps you can take to mini mize the financial risk associated with traveling. First, bring as little with you as possible. Second, buy a combination padlock to secure your belongings either in your pack or in a hostel or train station locker. Third, carry as little cash as possi ble. Keep your traveler’s checks and ATM/credit cards in a money belt not a fanny pack along with your passport and ID cards. Finally, keep a small cash reserve separate from your primary stash. This should be about US$50 sewn into or stored in the depths of your pack, along with your traveler’s check numbers and important photocopies.
CON ARTISTS AND PICKPOCKETS. In large cities con artists often work in groups and employ small children. Beware of certain classic scams, including sob stories that require money, rolls of bills found on the street, and mustard spilled (or gum spit) onto your shoulder to distract you while they snatch your bag. Don’t ever let your bags out of sight. Beware of pickpockets in city crowds, especially on public transportation. Also, be alert in public telephone booths: If you must say your call ing card number, do so very quietly; if you punch it in, make sure no one can look over your shoulder. Cities such as Rome, Paris, London, and Amsterdam have higher rates of petty crime.
ESSENT ESSENTIALS HEALTH AND INSURANCE
ACCOMMODATIONS AND TRANSPORTATION. Never leave your belongings unat tended; crime can occur in even the most demure-looking hostel or hotel. Be particularly careful on buses and trains, as sleeping travelers are easy prey for thieves. When traveling with others, sleep in shifts. When alone, never stay in an empty compartment; use a lock to secure your pack to the luggage rack. Try to sleep on top bunks with your luggage stored above you (if not in bed with you), and keep important documents and other valuables on your person. If traveling by car, don’t leave valuables in sight while you are away.
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
Drug and alcohol laws vary widely throughout Europe. In The Netherlands you can buy soft drugs on the open market; in much of Eastern Europe drug posses sion may lead to a heavy prison sentence. If you carry prescription drugs, you must carry both a copy of the prescriptions themselves and a note from a doctor, espe cially at border crossings. Public drunkenness is culturally unacceptable and against the law in many countries; it can also jeopardize your safety.
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