Post # 16
Do you really need to carry a purse or backpack? In the times I’ve been to Europe where pickpockets could be a problem, I’ve worn a money belt myself. It’s big enough for money, passport and phone and fits nicely under my clothes (obviously if you’re wearing a long dress it might be an issue, but it works fine for pants/shorts. If you need the backpack, maybe also wear a money belt with the valuables and only carry the extra stuff like jackets and water bottles and such in the backpack?
Post # 17
holycrapitshappening : The backpack I bought has an inside pocket that lays flush against my back. So it’s not like it’s out for people to be able to get at. They’d literally have to reach their hand between my back and the backpack just to find the zipper. You think that’s still not good enough?
Post # 18
SithLady : Knowing me, I’m going to want to carry around a guidebook and map with me. Then there’s also my water bottle. Then if I want to carry a light sweater or something. I don’t see that all fitting in a purse and like I said before, my backpack has a small pocket that sits flush with my back. So I wouldn’t see the need to carry that AND a money belt. Should we be carrying around our passports? I think I’d be super worried having that with me all the time.
ETA: Also, I forgot to mention, I take a lot of meds every day (some daily, some as needeD) and need to have them with me at all times. So I definitely need something more than just a money belt.
Post # 19
llevinso : If you’re staying in a hotel with a safe in the room, I would suggest leaving your passport in the safe. That’s what we generally do,when we travel, anyway.
SithLady : I generally carry a bag almost everywhere, just because I like to keep things like my sun glasses and lip balm to hand, ETA: as well as other bits and pieces I might need. Most of my bags are cross-body, as I like having my arms free. I’ve been to London, Berlin and Edinburgh in the last 6 months and haven’t had a problem with pick pockets, even when I was living in Florence.
Post # 20
- Wedding: October 2016 - Wedgewood Las Vegas
I’ve only been to Spain, but traveled from Madrid, down to Gibraltor and back, so I won’t comment about the weather.
I think, on average, if you are aware of your surroundings and valaubles, you should be OK, or at least no worse off an than any other American large city. However, the backpack is a horrible idea. Way too easy of a target.
The one thing you might encounter that your hubby hasn’t in Chicago are the gypsies. This happened to me in Madrid. A band of gypsies swarmed me, no doubt trying to distract me to pickpocket. I kept one hand on my purse at all times. Once they realized they weren’t going to get my purse, this little old lady gypsy grabbed my hand and performed a ‘fortune/palm reading’ on me, and demanded payment afterwards. I paid, but shouldn’t have, as it was just a hussle. Ended ok for me (minus about 10 euros), but could have gone badly.
Post # 21
steny03 : Even if the pocket I’m talking about sits flush against my back? Everyone keeps saying a backpack is a horrible idea but I’m not getting if they mean the normal types of backpacks or the one I’m specifically talking about?
If even with that hidden pocket everyone still thinks the backpack is a bad idea, that’s fine. It wasn’t a wasted purchase as I can easily use it for our annual camping and hiking trips too. I just want to make sure I have something good for Europe 🙂
Post # 22
- Wedding: October 2016 - Wedgewood Las Vegas
llevinso : I think backpacks are too much of a target since they are located on your back. Someone can very easily come up behind you without you knowing until it is too late. An ‘innocent’ bump here and there…and suddenly its been slashed and you’ve lost your things. I also don’t like to use them because they scream “tourist!”. I know, I know, you’ll never blend in and not look like one…but it’s one less thing to make you stand out.
Post # 23
I’m sure it will be very hot in Italy and Barcelona that time of year. I was in Rome and Barcelona at the end of May and it was tank top and shorts weather the whole time.
As for pick pockets, i never felt unsafe. I did have a lady warn me to wear my purse across my body in Barcelona but I never had an issue. I brought a money belt and it stayed in my bag the whole time – I didn’t use it. As long as you are aware of your surroundings and not flashing money around, you will be fine.
One note though is I did have my debit card skimmed while in Europe. I was over there for 2 months though and visited 13 countries so I’m not sure exactly when it happened. My bank notified me a couple months after I got back to say there was suspicious activity – someone was making withdrawals with my card number. I did get the money back from the bank though.
Post # 24
llevinso : Laululintu : In areas where pickpockets and gypsies were more prevalent, I felt more comfortable with the money belt. In areas where it was less of an issue, I felt ok using a cross body purse. As far as the passport goes, I only carried it on me when we were in transit and stopping at places along the way (I didn’t want to leave it in the car). If we already had a hotel room, I put it in the safe. I also kept several photo copies of it in various places including one on me at all times.
Post # 25
llevinso : I would never wear a money belt, I find them inconvenient, unnecessary and I carry more things than just what they hold. Map, camera, water, makeup, wet wipes, medications, pre-purchased train or entrance tickets, etc. I also might want to buy something while I’m out & need a place to put it.
I wouldn’t use a backpack because it’s not convenient to me, having to take it off & swing it around to your front to get something out of it. Always having to be backed up to a wall or carry the backpack on the front of my body any time I’m in a crowd (at train stations or on buses, etc for example). Seems awkward & like a pain in the butt.
I use a crossbody bag and always will. For me it is the most convenient by far. I think it is more secure than a back pack as well.
Technically yes, you are supposed to always have your passport on your person. I never do. I leave it in my hotel or apartment safe and keep a photocopy in my wallet.
Post # 26
llevinso : Barcelona is notorious for pickpockets. We went there on our honeymoon. In the main tourist areas its prevalent- lots of double-teaming, empty baby strollers- who would suspect a mom with a stroller to be a pickpocket?
Post # 27
llevinso : I’m more or less with passthepeas : on this one. On my very first visit to Rome I carried a money belt becasue I had heard all sorts of “if you let your guard down for the second you’ll be OMG PICKPOCKETED!!!1111” horror stories. I found it to be mostly a hassle. I’m also not a backpack person–when I am working I carry some sort of cross-body bag or zippered tote and I make sure that my essentials are in a separate pocket of the bag. When I am just out for myself on vacation, I only take what can fit in my relatively small satchel handbag. However, many of my students have used backpacks, and while a few of them have had cameras swiped, fortunately I’ve never had one of them get a wallet or passport stolen (knock on wood).
As a lot of PP have said, good pickpockets are looking to strike when someone is panicked or distracted. Most tourists get panicked when they are lost or when they are dealing with unfamiliar public transportaion and are afraid they got on the wrong bus/missed their stop/got on the wrong metro platform and distracted when they are taking pictures. Old standby advice like getting out of a crowded area and finding a quieter spot to review your maps/your bus schedule/whatever if you are lost (you don’t have to lean against a wall, but it makes a lot of people more comfortable to do so) and making sure you don’t carelessly put down your things while you go into a picture-taking frenzy is pretty sound.
In my experience, for whatever it is worth, the card-skimming problem has been a much bigger issue. I’ve had three students in the last two years get their cards skimmed (all the ATMs were near train stations, which is somewhat contrary to what the conventional wisdom is about skimmers, which is that they’re more likely to be used in areas that don’t get as much traffic so that no one sees the criminals at work). If you’re not already familiar with skimmers, I might read up on that.
Post # 28
Weather will be hot in Rome, and warm-hot in Barcelona. Bring a light jacket for evening (I always do even if it’s hot because some restaurants/bars whack up the AC), but otherwise, pack for hot weather. Be mindful also that churches in Rome are EXTREMELY strict on women particularly having knees and shoulders covered, so also consider that; I brought tapered leg linen trousers (just above the ankle), linen shirts etc and was fine (and not too hot, either).
Also, pack comfortable shoes and do not even attempt to wear heels in Rome (stick with wedges if you want some height in the evening); most streets are cobble stone and there are huge gaps between them.
Get tickets now for the big attractions in both, as it will help save queueing.
Will post again later with some recs for Rome.
Post # 29
One way to protect yourself a bit more against skimmers (although it is not fool proof) is to use your credit card rather than your bank card. Credit cards are more protected so if anything happens it will be easier to deal with than if it is your bank card.
Definitely get tickets for the big attractions in Rome now – there is a multi pass which gets you into the Colloseum, Forum and the Capitolini museum, it saves you a bit of money and a lot of time! Definitely do those three – the Capitolini has a fantastic loggia overlooking the Forum.
There is NO shade on the top of the hill in the Forum area. There are like 3 trees or something, so be aware! There are buildings to go into to see things, but the walk up there and back is a bit exposed. Don’t miss the beautiful grotto on the far side!
Definitely pre-book for the Vatican/St Peter’s Basilica – the Vatican itself always has looooooong queues, although St Peter’s is less busy.
There are some nice restaurants in the area near the Villa Borghese (Salaria) – we stayed in a hotel in that neighbourhood last time and there is a fantastic restaurant that is popular with one of the cities football teams, and the food was fantastic – it’s called Pro Loco Pinciano (http://www.prolocopinciano.it/) .
Post # 30
llevinso : depends on where In Italy you are going. It will be autumn so pack lots of things you can layer. It tends to be warmer the further down south you go. Rome tends to get muggy and has high humidity…. September is one of those months where it can go either way.
As for pickpockets…yes they exist in italy and Spain. Leave your wedding rings at home and don’t wear stand ins…they will spot those a mile away. They have a problem with zingare or Gypsy’s. They are organised crime rings. Keep all valuables in front of you (no backpacks)and in cut proof money belts….or in your bra!!! Saw lots of local women do this in a deli in Pompeii!!!
You will be fine but be aware they will spot you a mile away if you are not cautious about how you do things.