How to Avoid Pickpockets in Europe: Travel Smart and Stay Safe

Traveling through Europe can be an enriching and unforgettable experience, but it’s important to be aware of the risk of pickpocketing, especially in popular tourist areas. With a few smart strategies and thoughtful preparations, you can greatly reduce your chances of falling victim to petty theft. Here are some practical tips on how to avoid pickpockets, including advice on blending in, securing your valuables, and strategically storing important documents and cash.

1. Dress to Blend In

One of the simplest ways to avoid attracting the attention of pickpockets is to dress like a local. Here’s how:

  • Avoid Tourist Clichés: Steer clear of obvious tourist attire such as t-shirts with city names, large cameras around your neck, and bright, athletic wear that locals rarely wear outside the gym.
  • Opt for Neutral Clothing: Choose clothes in neutral colors and simple styles that don’t stand out. This helps you blend into the crowd rather than being marked as a tourist.
  • Comfort Over Flashiness: While you want to be comfortable, avoid overly casual items like flip-flops or flashy items like expensive jewelry that can make you a target.

2. Leave the Fanny Pack and Backpack Behind

Fanny packs and backpacks are easy targets for pickpockets. Instead, consider more secure options:

  • Cross-Body Bags: A cross-body bag worn in front of you is harder for thieves to snatch. Choose one with a sturdy strap and a secure closure, such as a zipper or a buckle.
  • Anti-Theft Bags: Consider investing in an anti-theft bag with features like slash-resistant straps, RFID-blocking pockets, and lockable zippers.

3. Don’t Keep Everything in One Place

Distributing your valuables can minimize the damage if you are pickpocketed. Here’s a strategy that works well:

  • Under-Clothing Pouches: Store your passport, extra credit cards, and a portion of your cash in a travel pouch worn under your clothes. These pouches are difficult for pickpockets to access.
  • Copies of Documents: Keep photocopies or digital copies of important documents like your passport and credit cards. This can be extremely helpful if you lose the originals.
  • Minimal Essentials in Your Bag: Only carry what you need for the day in your cross-body bag, such as one credit card, a small amount of cash, and perhaps a copy of your ID.

4. Be Strategic with Your Valuables

Consider the following tips for securing your valuables:

  • Money Belts and Hidden Pockets: Use money belts or hidden pockets to store cash and cards. These can be worn discreetly under your clothes.
  • Decoy Wallets: Carry a decoy wallet with a small amount of cash and some old cards. This can be handed over in case of a mugging, protecting your real wallet.
  • Hotel Safes: When possible, leave valuables in the hotel safe. Only take what you absolutely need with you.

5. Stay Vigilant

Being aware of your surroundings is key to avoiding pickpockets:

  • Avoid Crowds: Be extra cautious in crowded areas like public transportation, tourist attractions, and busy markets. These are prime spots for pickpockets.
  • Be Skeptical of Strangers: Be wary of overly friendly strangers, people creating distractions, or individuals invading your personal space. These can be tactics to divert your attention while someone else steals from you.
  • Secure Your Bag: Always keep a hand on your bag, especially in crowded places. On public transport, hold your bag in front of you and keep it closed.

Personal Tips and Tricks

From my own experiences traveling through Europe, I’ve found a few personal strategies to be particularly effective:

  • Under-Clothing Case: I use a secure under-clothing case for my passport, extra credit cards, cash, and copies of important documents. This gives me peace of mind knowing that my most crucial items are safe and out of reach.
  • Cross-Body Bag: I carry a small cross-body bag with only one credit card and a limited amount of cash. This is my day-to-day bag and contains only what I need for immediate expenses.
  • Organized Documents: I keep digital copies of my travel documents and credit cards stored securely in the cloud, accessible from my phone if needed.


Traveling in Europe can be a joyous and liberating experience. By taking some simple precautions and staying mindful of your surroundings, you can significantly reduce the risk of pickpocketing and enjoy your journey with greater peace of mind. If you’re looking for more personalized travel advice or need help planning a secure and enjoyable trip, feel free to contact me. Together, we can ensure that your European adventure is as safe as it is unforgettable.