Dear Nicole –
I will be traveling in Europe in June with my 18-yr old son and had a question about crime in Rome. My question/concern is how to secure the large amount of cash I will have with me at that point in our trip. Would you leave passports and cash in a locked suitcase in the possession of the hotel? What is best to avoid the pickpockets and not have to hold my hand in my pocket all day and worry about it?
Thanks! - Tom M.
Thank you for your inquiry. I have been considering your very same concern as I will be heading to Rome early next month as well. Here are my answers to your questions and I look forward to returning with some stories to share!
Handling $$ in Rome. You want to bring both a credit card and a debit card with you. It’s better to wait until you arrive in Europe to exchange your money. You can use the debit card at cash machines (ATMs) to withdrawal cash for local purchases and taxis, and the credit card for larger purchases. ATMs in Rome are easy to find and to use and cash is often the preferred payment method at local shops and restaurants.
Use a Money Belt. To keep your money safe, use a money belt. It buckles around your waist inside your clothes – not in your pockets! Pickpockets are rampant in Rome so keep your money on you at all times. Your money belt is also the safest place to secure your passport.
Storing Luggage. If you are comfortable leaving your luggage with your hotel for a few hours and it is convenient, then do so. The main train station and airports also have secure luggage storage for a fee. Do not leave money or passports in your luggage. However, you should have a copy of your passports inside your luggage as well as any important phone numbers that you may need (credit card companies, airline, hotel, US embassy, family at home) in the event that your important items are lost or stolen during your trip.
Avoid Being a Target. The best way to avoid the pickpockets who often look like professional businessmen or needy mothers with children is to travel with a purpose. As tourists, we definitely have times when we need to access our maps or consider our site-seeing options but don’t stand around in public areas to do this. When you do have the need to regroup then step into an Internet café or a restaurant. Have a seat, and then consult your map and discuss your plans.
For any other safety questions, I have More Travel Safety Tips.
Keep these things in mind and I am sure that you will have a problem-free experience. I hope that you and your son have a wonderful adventure in Rome.