Crime on holiday
Vacation is a great time to relax, travel to new places, and enjoy new experiences. The lifestyle many people enjoy in the EU allows them to travel multiple times a year. Unfortunately, millions of people also fall victim to crime during holidays in the EU. Which precautions can you take? What should you do if that happens to you? What are your rights in the EU? We have gathered some useful information to help you stay safe while you travel and to know what to do if you have become a victim of crime on holiday. You can also find links to some resources you might find useful. The information below is not exhaustive; you can certainly find many more useful tips on the Internet, especially for specific destinations.
Tips for staying safe while traveling
Here are some tips on how to stay safe while traveling:
Before you leave:
- Inform others about your travel plans: tell your relatives, friends, or your partner about your journey. Make sure to provide them with details (dates, itinerary, accommodation arrangements) and establish a way you can get in touch with them.
- Inform a local consulate: depending on which country you are visiting, it might be a good idea to inform your local consulate that you are in the country. You can provide them with the details of your trip and a phone number they can reach you at.
- Make electronic copies of your documents: You’ll be carrying necessary documentation with you when traveling abroad. Create an electronic backup of your passport, visas, medical insurance card, itinerary, immunization record, and any other important documents before you leave. Email the files to yourself and keep them in your inbox so that you can access them from your smartphone in case any of your documents are lost, stolen, or damaged.
- Do your research: check travel advice for your destination online, including on your foreign office/ministry’s website.
- Stay aware: It might be tempting to get fully absorbed in the beauty of a new place, but it is important to remember to stay aware and alert to your surroundings. At a bar, keep an eye on your drink – don’t leave it unattended. Don’t leave your phone, wallet, or other valuables on a table. When walking in the street, especially at night, make sure to pay attention to what is going on around you. Avoid wearing earphones (or at least both ear pieces). If you’re lost try to avoid giving this appearance by walking confidently and purposefully. Take notice of any disturbances, unusual behaviour or unattended packages.
- Be careful: meeting new people in new places can be very exciting, but if you’ve just met someone and are planning to spend time with them, let a trusted person know.
- Don’t carry everything together: It might be tempting to keep your cash, credit cards, ID cards, and other cards together in your wallet, but don’t do it. Keep any money, credit cards, and IDs you won’t be using in a safe or in your accommodation. It can also be useful to separate the monetary items from the identifying ones, and carry them in different places. This prevents you from losing everything in case your wallet gets lost or stolen.
- Don’t carry things in your back pocket: Pickpocketing is common in certain areas around the world, and pickpockets often target tourists. Do not keep anything in your back pocket, including your wallet, phone, hotel room keys… anything! Doing so makes you an easy target for pickpockets.
- Look back when leaving: Don’t forget to look back and check everything before you leave for your next destination. This includes looking around you when you are leaving a café or a restaurant, a hotel room, a bus, etc. Check that you have all your belongings, especially the essentials, such as your passport and money, before you leave.
- Leave the “bling” at home: It might be tempting to wear your favorite jewelry throughout your trip or take pictures with a new expensive camera, but in the interest of your safety, don’t. Keep it appropriate for the place you are visiting.
- Don’t try to be a hero: If you become a victim of mugging, give your belongings up. Your cash, credit cards, and ID cards are not worth injury or death. Give the items up and proceed to report the crime to the nearest police station immediately.
- Be properly insured: Many people believe that travel insurance is not necessary, but it is not true, especially if your health insurance does not provide full international coverage. It might be a good idea to insure your belongings, too, in case anything happens to them.
- Know your emergency numbers in advance: in all EU states, you can dial 112 in case of emergency. In Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Netherlands, and Portugal, you can also call 116 006 – the helpline for victims of crime. Full information on emergency numbers around the world can be found here.
How to keep your children safe during holidays
What to do when going on holidays with your children? Amber Alert Europe and Missing Children Europe have developed useful tips and videos. Here is one of them:
Travel safety advice, by country
The following website provides various kinds of of travel advice, organised by country:
All you have to do is click on the country you are going to visit and browse through the articles about it.
For instance, here is a quote from an article about crimes and scams visitors should be aware of when visiting Germany:
“There’s a scam that some travellers have warned about, which are fake ticket inspectors. Most inspectors are in plain clothes, but they show their badge so you know they’re genuine. Scammers are said to be using fake badges and telling tourists they catch that they have to pay the fine on the spot. Real inspectors will give you the option of printing out a penalty notice for you to pay later”
Read more here.
What to do if you are a victim of crime abroad
If you become a victim of crime while traveling, you should report it to the police. You can call 112 – EU-wide emergency line – and 116006 – a free helpline available in Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Netherlands, and Portugal.
You can also locate the nearest police station and go there in person.
It is important to know about your rights in such a situation. Here is a helpful video about victim support and victims’ rights in Europe:
Infovictims is a support website developed for victims of crime, particularly crime on holiday, and it provides useful information and advice on traveling to Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Portugal, and Scotland. You can choose the country you are currently in and obtain useful advice about the steps you can take if you’ve become a victim of crime in that Country. There is also a “Virtual City” city tool, which helps visitors pinpoint important locations in the city, such as police stations, victim support centers, etc.
More information here.
Advice for EU citizens traveling outside the EU
Travel advice gathered by the European Commission from the national foreign ministries of all non-EU states for EU travelers: