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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I'm headed to Paris this weeks for my wife's birthday. Its the first time I wont have my carry with me and I'm pretty paranoid about it. I know its decently safe city but with all the anti-American stuff coming out of France and the large Muslim population its got me just a little worried. I'm not taking any check baggage so no pepper spray. I'm a pretty large guy at 6'2" and 260lbs. Any suggestions to keep me and my wife safe? And to keep all our credit cards and passports safe?
 

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They make "smart carry" style wallets. Carry a dummy wallet with like $20 and some library cards and other stuff that wouldn’t bother you if it got stolen and keep your real ID/credit cards/large amounts of cash/etc in the hidden smart carry wallet. Just make sure you stay in condition Yellow or greater for the trip.

One hint to the hidden wallet: Plan ahead, if you need $50 for a purchase don’t go digging at the check stand to find the $. Instead make a stop at the bathroom or before you get out of your car.
 

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Paris is a relatively safe city (compared to some other places in Europe), but can be pretty scary at night. At a minimum, keep your wallet in your front pocket or a zipped pocket. Encourage your wife to not carry a purse.

If you're really worried, you could purchase some pepper spray when you get there. But most of all, don't look scared/nervous or act/look like a tourist and you won't appear to be a potential target. And have fun! I'm terribly jealous!
 

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But most of all, don't look scared/nervous or act/look like a tourist and you won't appear to be a potential target.
I would also add that the more you appear the dominent "Alpha" type the less you are apt to be chosen as a target.
 

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In the dummy wallet put old canceled credit cards if you have any. If someone steals them it won't hurt anything. Make a copy of you passport and keep it in the hotel safe.
 

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FBMG Smithy said:
But most of all, don't look scared/nervous or act/look like a tourist and you won't appear to be a potential target.
I would also add that the more you appear the dominent "Alpha" type the less you are apt to be chosen as a target.
Maybe. Americans tend to carry themselves more "aggressively" than Europeans do, even when not trying to look dominant -- our body language is part of what makes Europeans think we're arrogant. I think trying to look "Alpha" will make you stick out. If you look tough enough, it may also help you be left alone, but if you don't quite pull it off, it'll just mark you as a stranger, and a target.

In Europe, i think the best approach is to slump and look bored. Even if they make you as an American, you'll look like an American who is familiar with the area. I've spent many months in various parts of Europe, including Paris, and after a little practice I found it very easy to blend in. You know you're doing well when people (natives, not Americans) ask you for directions, as though you're the local.

In any large city, anywhere in the world, the other advice given here is good: Keep your wallet somewhere hard for pickpockets to get (the front pocket is good, unless your pants are quite loose) and stay in busy, well-lit areas to avoid being mugged. Carrying a dummy wallet isn't a bad idea, but honestly if I'm being mugged the money in my wallet is the least of my concerns. Credit cards even less so -- as long as you report the theft promptly, your total loss will be zero. Also, if your wallet is so light that the mugger guesses it's a dummy, you're likely to piss him off. Not good if he has a force advantage.

I carry plenty of cash, and I don't carry a dummy wallet. I do keep a credit card and ID hidden away so I don't get stranded if my wallet is taken. In cool weather I put it in an inside pocket of my jacket. In hot weather I put the cards in my shoe. When possible I leave my passport in the hotel room safe, especially in hot weather when there's really no good place to hide it.
 

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During my 2 years in Brasil one of the things I learned about being street-savvy is DO NOT WEAR ANY JEWELRY INCLUDING WEDDING RINGS AND WATCHES. Get a cheap $5 watch and use that if you want, but no nice watches. If you want sunglasses, fine, again, $5 ones. Wear casual clothing not super nice clothing that makes you look like some yuppy or businessman that might be loaded.

In fact, I was accosted by a small gang of kids one night b/c we were in suits and carrying brief cases which they assumed meant we were carrying a large amount of money.

I know Paris is not Brasil but I make it a practice now whenever I travel out of the U.S. (and even some cities in the U.S.) to just not wear that stuff. It just attracts more attention to you and you don't need it... unless you are single and trying to pick up a French woman... then that's another story I guess! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all the replies and advice. I'm off this morning on my trip. I've been brushing up on my French since its been years since i've used it and am going to try and blend in as well as possible. Thanks again all.
 

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oh, don't forget to have fun
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well I've been back for a weeks and now that I'm caught up on everything I thought I would post up how things went. Blending in didn't work at all. I was a good 6"-10" taller than everyone and an easy 80-100lbs heavier. Also having blond curly hair in a country full of brunettes didn't help. So I gave up on that idea after my first subway ride. I ended up being the dominant American without any effort and may have scared a few people from sitting near us on the trains just by making eye contact and staring people down. Which was fine cause they don't freaking bathe or use deodorant and we didn't want their stinky butts next to us anyway. My French came back really quick and I had no problems getting around or communicating.

I will say that Paris was full of sheep though. I really felt like the only sheepdog around. Everyone just went about their own business and never noticed anything going on around them. I noticed a pickpocket on the metro and some beggars who gave off a bad vibe and was able to avoid them by going into a shop for a bit or crossing the street. Gypsies are everywhere begging for money and they would always come up to us. One girl gypsy at the Eiffel tower even demanded a bite from my wife's sandwich but left quick when I stood up and moved between her and my wife. I keep my cash and credit cards in my coin pocket where you couldn't see them or get to them. I didn't notice or get the feelings like I get here when I see someone else who is on guard or who is being situationally aware except from the people who gave off a bad vibe.

About the only time I didn't feel safe was on May day. Their worker party/labor day/communist rally was in the square right in front of our hotel. The door man who I had made friends with told us not to go far from the hotel or to stay in the lobby or our room during that day. They had trucks and vans with signs and loud speakers driving around the square with the hammer sickle and star of the old Soviet Union. Also a bunch of anti Bush, American and anti Iraqi war signs. Most of the rally was people screaming through the loud speakers in Arabic or Persian while banging on drums and groups of people chanting. :nilly: Real eye opener or me and my wife.

Oh and we went to a "western" BBQ restaurant to see what they thought western was. It was like 1970's rhinestone cowboy mixed with old black and white western moves. We laughed through the entire meal.

Other than that one day in the hotel we bummed around Paris on the metro eating crepes and baguette sandwiches. I don't think we will be going back anytime soon unless the dollar rebounds a bit and can go with family or friends.
 

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Well, I was going to say, "Glad you had a good time," but I'm not sure that's appropriate. Perhaps I should say, "Your trip sounds like it was very interesting."

Anyways, I'm glad you posted here and updated us on how things went, sure seems like Europe is going to heck in a hand basket.
 
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