It saddens me to read about travelers getting robbed in Athens. And it really bugs me when I read the story and realize that they do not take the time to think about the minimum safety of their belongings.
I hail from a country in the Balkans so I’ve been used to the hustle and bustle of the area since I’ve been a little girl. The first thing I’ve learned when I started going to school? Not to put anything of value in the outside pocket of my backpack. It has served me well, though, as I certainly apply this when I travel.
So, here I am, talking about useful tips to keep your personal belongings safe in Athens and thus avoid getting robbed.
Never keep your wallet in your pants’ pocket
The first rule of safety? Your wallet should not be easily accessible. So, it should never be placed in a pants’ pocket. The back pocket is the worst choice but so are the side pockets. In a crowded environment, you are inviting trouble.
Never keep your wallet (or any other valuables) in the outside pocket of your bag
Always keep your wallet and your cell phone in the inside pocket of your bag. The outside one is reserved for stuff like tissues or the map. You won’t cry over them when you are left without them!
The daypack stays in your front
…not back! No matter what you have in it, it invites trouble to keep it on your back in crowded places. Keep it in your front and you are good to go!
Never keep anything valuable in the outside pocket of your checked bag
Since you are dragging those big bags around you, it’s so easy for anyone to mess with the contents of your outside pocket. If you need to use that space, put stuff like tissues and maps in there.
Always keep cash in different places
So yeah, you have cash in your wallet but stash some in hard to get places such as tampons case, laundry bag, bra. If anything happens, you will have a backup.
Always keep your ATM cards in different places
Ideally, you should travel with two ATM cards. One stays in your wallet, but the other one should be hidden somewhere.
Keep a hard copy and a cloud copy of your documents
Before you travel, make some copies (photocopies) of your passport / ID card. If you end up without the original, it’s easier to get a replacement from your embassy.
Don’t forget to make a copy of your insurance card, itinerary, as well as accommodations address and phone numbers.
Also, use cloud storage and keep a copy there, as well. The choices are quite numerous (Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, Asus Web Storage, etc). You can easily access them from your smartphone.
Never leave sight of your passport
This may be against of what hotels say – to keep the passport in a safe – but you can and will get carded by the police. Not having an ID with you is not the best thing that you can do. So, keep that passport safe and always with you. Many travelers choose to keep the passport in the safe and carry a copy.
Try not to look like a tourist
It’s not hard to be “spotted” as a tourist and thus a potential victim but, as much as possible, avoid the “standard tourist look” and try this: dark colored walking shoes, light colored jeans or normal pants, t-shirt or shirt. Get rid of the fanny pack. Bring the day pack or purse (which should be over your body, not on one shoulder).
Ladies have it easier: a summer dress and the daypack or purse are excellent choices. Or if the weather is bad, walking shoes, long pants, and a t-shirt (plug jacket) do the trick.
As much as possible, keep your camera in the bag until you use it. Same goes for your map. And if you use the navigation on your phone, keep it quiet (just glance at it as you walk).
The emergency number is 112. All calls are answered in English and French, in addition to Greek. Alternatively, 100 is the Police number.