Everyone has travel horror stories or at least knows of someone who does. Getting scammed by swindlers or robbed by charlatans while on vacation can be a major downer, but so long as you walk away from it, it usually makes for a pretty good story later. I mean, who wants to have a perfect trip every time?
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like travel is getting safer – at least in the traditional sense. I don’t know, perhaps I only talked to a bunch of downers before embarking in the early days of my travels or it could be that I was scared of my own shadow in the big wide world, but I don’t feel as threatened as I once did. Am I crazy? Probably.
Take my last trip abroad. I was fine! Granted I never went into any unsavoury areas or partook in any questionable exercises, but I generally don’t take the Icarus approach to travel and look at those who do and get burned with a ‘what did you expect?’ reaction. Even still, you have to figure walking the streets of Rome by the Coliseum with its thousands of tourists, it would be easy for someone to snatch something and run. Maybe I just wasn’t a good mark.
I think one reason I marvel at how nothing bad happened was because I was taking such a huge risk in the first place. You see, in my bag for 15 out of 25 days was the engagement ring I was going to propose to my now fiancée with. With my lack of trust in the hostels we were staying in (which, in fact were very safe – not to mention private rooms), I resorted to carrying it around in my backpack every day, anal and paranoid beyond belief that she would see it or someone would take it. Needless to say it wasn’t, which relieved me once it was firmly on her finger… for more reasons than one.
Like my previous trip to Europe, I also brought along a money belt my grandfather gave me before going to Spain. Unlike my last trip, I did not wear it even once, nor did I feel the need to. It could be due to my insistence on wearing my wallet in my front pocket or maybe the discreet manner in which I withdrew bills. Or maybe it’s that nowhere in Western Europe are as sketchy as Barcelona, but I had no issues when it came to pickpockets.
This leads me to wonder – are thieves getting lazier or smarter? Could it be thieves have realized stealing takes too much time and energy that could be spent seducing foreign girls trying to ‘find themselves?’ Or it could be crooks are now resorting to using computers to steal tourist bank information, only reserving physical encounters when some rube who sets their iPad down to eat their gelato.
So maybe travel isn’t getting any safer or thieves lazier, but it can feel that way if you adopt the right attitude. That way you can brag about how safe something is, without mentioning your paranoid vigilance, thus lulling others into false feelings of security that results in them being mugged and you getting to judge them for being stupid! Win/Win!