All the times I’ve been in Europe, I’ve never had a problem, and never felt justifiably unsafe. However it’s still wise to follow some basic safety precautions.
- Use your common sense. If you get a bad feeling from a place or a person, leave.
- Stay Alert! Pay attention to your surroundings at all times, don’t stand on the corner of the street staring intently at your tourist map, you’re just asking to be pick-pocketed.
- Stay in control of yourself. As good as European beer is, don’t drink too much of it, especially if you’re walking home alone. Staying away from too much alcohol and illicit drugs is a good way to keep yourself out of a police station
- Try to blend in. It’ll be tough wearing a huge pack, but try to at least try your best. Be sure not to wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money. Put a little in your wallet, some more in your money belt, the rest in the bank.
- If you’re going to be in one country for longer than a month, consider registering with your Embassy.
- Wear a money belt and put most of your valuables in it. That way, if your wallet gets lifted, you’re only out a day’s worth of cash, not all your money, your passport, your Rail Pass and your dignity.
For the most part, you shouldn’t have to worry about any major country in Eastern or Western Europe. However, if you’re planning to travel to some lesser frequented places (Certain Balkan countries, Mid or Central Asia, etc.) it would be wise to check your embassy’s website to see if there are any travel advisories for that place.
The US State department provides country specific information for every country in the world.
Other Useful Sites
The US State Department has a lot of good information related to international travel for students. Give it a quick read before your trip.
The TSA has a list of Prohibited Items in Aircraft Cabins. Be aware of what you can (and can’t) bring onto aircraft. This can be especially important when not checking-baggage on European budget airlines.
About.com’s Student Travel Safety Section has some good tips on how to stash money your goods and keep yourself out of harm’s way.