personal security is tantamount to a successful trip in my view.
Personal security is paramount, over the years, I have consoled many irate and upset passengers over money lost, or camera's misplaced etc. I always remind pax to keep their valuables safe and their wits about them when in heavily congested tourist zones. Something to be wary of in our very first destination in Paris is the Senegalese pinky twine hustlers, who use, string and vocal bombardment to cheat you out of a few euro's. They reside in the gardens of Paris' famous Mont Matre, where christian Martyr St Denis had his head chopped off, and soon after, picked it up, washed it in a nearby stream and footed it back to his own holy consecrated ground to die.
The hustlers can see you coming, making the distinction between locals and tourista's easily, the dumbfounded expressions smacked all over faces new to the glorious site of Sacre Couer are a dead give away. Honing in on you like a sea bird diving for small fish, you are sucked into the gypsy vortex, you now need to awkwardly and incessantly remove yourself from this rip off tractor beam by shaking your head furiously to acknowledge the presence of this scammer, yet remain calm enough to not be offensive. once out of the hustlers grip you have the return trip back down the hill to look forward to.
Another trick some of the Roma do, is to approach you wielding a gold ring suggesting they picked it up after you dropped it back there near the entrance to the Louvre, after taking the ring and inspecting it, you are stuck to like curry on a silk shirt until you offer the meritorious gypo suitable restitution in the form of Euro poo change.
The main tourist sites are of course the main stomping ground of Europe's hustlers and gypsies, touts selling genuine fake watches or Armali sunnies blanket and suffocate all the most popular coach parks in Touristy area's. A lot of them from West Africa and a lot of them fluent in many languages, I pay gypsy tax once a tour, where I concede and give a beggar a euro to leave me alone on the train, once it's been paid, I feel suitably comfortable in telling other beggars to leave me alone.
"watch out for each other" - I would be saying, taking the opportunity at this time of my overbearing security spiel to steal a chance at pulling on some heart strings, "we are going to become like a family over this next two weeks and need to look after one another". It is true that there is safety in numbers and would recommend a tour for young single travelers as the security aspect offers much piece of mind.
"Don't leave all your money in your luggage and use safes in our hotels", I've had money stolen from my passengers, wallets lost, passports left at hotels or bars, but by far and away, the worst thing that can happen is for the tour guide to lose his or her bag. i worked for a company in which the entire tour fund was given to the guide in cash before the tour departed, on a 3 week tour of Europe, you'd be expected to take away around 5 thousand euro's, on a longer tour, as much as ten grand.
A friend of mine was doing the morning count up of all her passengers, getting ready to depart Rome for Venice, as she made her way towards the back of the bus, 2 passengers jumped on the bus, sat in the front seat for a couple of minutes and spoke to the driver, they proceeded to jump off when my mate returned to tell the driver that everyone was accounted for and they could leave, as the bus pulled out of the car park, she asked the driver who the two were who jumped on and he told her he thought they were part of the group, in one fell panicked swoop she realized before even checking that her bag had been swiped.
Her bag had been under the front seat and fingered by the scum, five thousand euro's were in that bag, not including personal monies and commissions she had earned as well as personal / company credit cards, her passport and drivers license were also in there, I had to meet her in Venice as our tours were running parallel and give her as much of my own tour money as I could, it really was an unenviable situation to be in as I knew our insurance would only cover her a maximum of one thousand euros and she would be working the rest of the season to pay off the stolen money.
"So keep fifty euro's safe in your bag, use your money belt, say no thank you in the local language to regional gypsies and have each others backs! With that, let's talk a little bit about your travel budget for this tour and Europe.