Central Europe is as safe – or unsafe – as any other part of the developed world. If you can handle yourself in the big cities of Western Europe, North America or Australia, you'll have little trouble dealing with the less pleasant sides of travel here. Here are a few tips:
- If possible, work out a list of places where you can be contacted.
- When hiking or skiing alone or in the back country, leave a note at your hotel or park headquarters stating your departure time, intended route and anticipated return.
Overall the region is quite safe, but there are a few scams to watch out for:
- Men, be wary of the attention of uber-gorgeous women who invite you to a club in eastern cities. The drinks may be absurdly priced (€100-plus) and enforcers may appear at the end of the night to walk you to the ATM. (Did you really think it was your charming good looks that attracted them?) Be careful and pay attention to your surroundings.
- There have been a few reports of unscrupulous people making quick, hi-tech duplicates of credit- or debit-card information. Be alert if your card leaves your possession for longer than necessary and check your charges from the road if possible.
Petty crime is as common here as elsewhere in Europe and your wariness should extend to other travellers.
- Make copies of all important documents, such as your passport and driving licence.
- Be aware of your belongings in tourist centres; pickpockets target anywhere you'll be distracted – from crowded transport to busy attractions.
- Be especially vigilant on overnight trains; keep your bags locked and avoid neck-hanging travel wallets that can be cut off easily.
- Avoid leaving luggage and other items in plain view in parked cars.
- In case of theft or loss, always report the incident to the police and ask for a statement; otherwise, your travel-insurance company won't pay.