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Thursday, June 16, 2011


Carolyn Matkowsky, who writes as Cara Marsi, is the author of romance short stories, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance. Her latest book is Murder Mi Amore. Today, though, she’s here to discuss travel safety with us. Read more about Carolyn/Cara at her website. -- AP 

When I travel, whether in the United States or other countries, I’m always very careful and vigilant about my personal safety. Some might say I’m paranoid.

My husband and I visited Italy in 2006. We went alone, but planned to meet a cousin from Arizona and another cousin from Australia there. I’d visited once before, with my parents, in 1965. At that time the world was a safer place, plus I was young and didn’t worry much about personal safety. Because my grandparents are from Italy, I know a lot about the history and what sights to see. To prepare for this latest trip, I read all I could about security in Italy.

Italy is a country of pickpockets, on the streets, on the subways, everywhere it seems. Everything I read cautioned tourists to guard their wallets and their valuables. As I read, I became even more paranoid. It didn’t help my paranoia when my dentist told me the story of a friend of his, a very wealthy woman who wore scads of gold and diamond jewelry all the time. This woman and her family were in Italy for her daughter’s wedding. Before the woman left for Italy, people advised her not to wear her expensive jewelry. But she didn’t listen. During her visit, muggers knocked her down a flight of stairs and took all her jewelry. She was badly injured. 

Here are my personal safety travel tips, especially when traveling overseas:

Leave the good jewelry at home. I did this even before my dentist told me that disturbing story. Other than my wedding ring and a few other small pieces, I wear mostly costume jewelry when I travel. And I closely guard the few pieces of good jewelry I take.

1. Leave your passport in the hotel safe. Make a copy of the photo page of your passport and carry that with you.
2. When I travel, I take along a very small purse, just big enough for a few credit cards and some money and those few small pieces of good jewelry I might carry. The wallet-sized purse has a long strap that crosses over my chest. I wear the tiny purse under my clothes. The strap is long enough that the purse itself is visible where it’s within easy reach for me, but not for any pickpockets. I carry a larger handbag with a strap that also crosses over my chest. I don’t put anything valuable in the larger purse. A little too cautious? Maybe.
3. If you don’t have an in-room safe, get a safety deposit box from the hotel. I can’t stress this enough. On my last trip to Las Vegas, I took my new Kindle. Suddenly I had something else I needed to secure. No one would steal a paperback you leave in your room. But a Kindle? Hell, yes. My hotel had a small daily charge for the in-room safe. I paid it to secure my Kindle.  

My precautions in Italy were well-founded. While there, we witnessed an attempted pick pocketing. We were walking down a very crowded sidewalk when a man suddenly started shouting at a young woman. He actually slapped her in the face. Seems he saw the young woman with her hand in the purse/backpack of an American tourist. Indeed, the purse was unzipped. The whole incident caused quite a commotion until the police arrived.

Once, when my husband and I stopped for a drink at an outdoor café near Trevi, my husband put his camera on the table. Our waiter made him put it away because thieves run by and grab items off tables.

Another time my husband had his money out to pay for something. The clerk cautioned him to keep his hand down and not show the money because thieves come by and grab money out of your hand.

So, you see, I might be a little paranoid when I travel, but my caution is justified. Thankfully, maybe due to luck, maybe to our precautions, we weren’t the victims of a crime while in Italy.

Thank you for the great travel advice, Carolyn! I have my own tales of traveling in Italy I could tell, but that was way back in my college days. Looks like nothing has changed! Readers, do you have a travel tale you’d like to share with us? Let’s hear from you. Post a comment to enter the drawing for a book from our Book Club Friday guest author. -- AP


Liz V. said...

Sad to say, too necessary here and abroad.

I would add, don't go to areas where demonstrations are expected. As shown in Vancouver BC last night, innocuous events can turn dangerous.

Charli Mac said...

I live in a big city and take public transportation everyday to work downtown from my inner-city neighborhood. These tips are the common sense things to do and I do most of them everyday. Another thing I do is occasionally look behind me to see who is around. No one sneak ups on this chica. Also, NEVER blast your Ipod while walking, you'll be at a loss to hear what is going on around you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Cari...my dh and son are going next summer and I didn't know it was so bad there...I will tell them to keep their money in their front pockets!!!!!

Cara Marsi said...

Thanks to Lois for having me today. And thanks for posting, Liz, Charli and Tess. I admit I can get a little paranoid, but you do have to be careful no matter where you are. We never took the subway while in Italy, but we ran into other Americans who did, and they said it was kind of scary and you really had to guard your possessions.


Cara, it was a pleasure to host you today. You offered some valuable advice. And thanks to Liz, Charli, and Tess for your comments and additional advice.

Sue Palmer Fineman said...

Excellent advice, Cara.

Cara Marsi said...

Anastasia, thank you for hosting me.

Sue, thanks for posting.