Photo has nothing to do with the article
I've never been to Africa. But most of my friends in England come from Africa. And from what I hear a lot of places are not very safe. We've all seen the headlines.
Walking down the street today in northwest London made me feel like I was in a dark corner of Africa. Maybe it was the police sirens in the background. Or the derelict store fronts. Or the guy who spat on the pavement just as I walked past. Or perhaps it was the pile of puke on the street. Nice, huh?
Don't get me wrong about Africa, as I'd say it has more to offer in natural beauty than many other parts of the world (sorry Kansas, you are out of the running), in addition to wonderful people who aren't involved in crimes against humanity, self-appointed dictatorships or terrorism. In fact, Africa is on the top of the list for places I'm planning to visit next...and perhaps live!
Safety is a top priority when you travel. From keeping out of dangerous areas to keeping your "belongings with you at all times", the issue of safety is vital to a quality trip abroad.
Just recently at the airport, my family and I saw a unclaimed bag near an empty table. It took us by surprise. We thought it was...well...you know. Just as we alerted the security staff, a gentleman returned to claim it. It just made us think for a second about safety.
One of the safest cities I lived in was in former East Germany, in Saxony. The town had little crime, and even the worst parts of town looked quaint compared to parts of the Bronx. The only time I felt afraid was when there was a football (soccer) match in town and hoards of people were congregating in the Hauptbahnhof (main train station). Something about drunk football-match-going-Germans make me nervous.
Some "ALWAYS" tips for traveling abroad (Europe or elsewhere):
-Keep a close hand on your passport
It's a good idea to make copies of your passport before you leave. Give a copy to a family member in your home country and one copy in another safe place with you.
-Keep cash to a minimum (and don't "flash your cash")
This may seem like common sense, but a lot of people think carrying a wad of cash is best. I disagree. Locals carry their cards. I carry "just enough" in my pocket - enough for a few meals and/or a souvenir. There is a balance here, as you don't want to be at the cash machine every 20 minutes. Remember your credit or debit card is likely to work just fine in Europe and will be accepted at most any bank should an emergency arise. If you are a real boyscout, keep a little money spread in a few places. You'll find it when you get back home and feel rich.
-Keep your eyes open
Being slightly paranoid is a good thing when you travel. Just keep an eye open to what's going on around you. Soaking in the sights with one eye, and watching your camera bag with the other. As the old saying goes: Better safe than sorry.
-Keep your best walking shoes on
Unlike Americans, Europeans walk a lot. Strap on your Converse and look like a tourist. Your feet will appreciate it.