Switzerland is a beautiful country with gorgeous mountains and sophisticated villages. It is also known as one of the safest countries throughout Europe. No place, however, is completely safe or crime free. Staying safe while traveling should be a priority no matter where a traveler is going. The following includes 9 tips for staying safe while visiting Switzerland.
1. Keep Wallets and Purses Secure
This should go without saying wherever an individual may be traveling. Men should keep wallets in a front pocket instead of the back. Women should put purse straps over the neck so the purse hangs over the body on the opposite side. Pay particular attention when in large crowds. Pickpockets often rub against potential victims in large crowds and are able to steal wallets and purses without the person even realizing what has happened.
2. Check the Weather
Keeping updated on weather conditions is always important when traveling but especially in Switzerland where mountainous regions can provide a variety of constantly changing weather conditions. Always check at the hotel or with a tourist office regarding weather in the mountains or possible areas where avalanches might occur.
3. Be Careful at High Altitudes
Always take the time to ascend when traveling to high altitudes. This will give the body time to adjust when traveling to mountainous areas. Headaches, dizziness, nose bleeds, and difficulty breathing are all symptoms to watch out for. Those with a history of heart or lung disease should consult their physician before vacationing in high altitudes.
4. Update Insurance
Individuals may want to purchase travel insurance before heading to Switzerland. A lot of medical insurance plans don’t cover costs outside of the United States. If planning to hike or ski it is advisable to purchase mountain search and rescue insurance. The insurance is relatively cheap but the cost of sending out a search and rescue team is not. Costs can sometimes run up to $25,000.
5. Be Extra Vigilant at Sporting Events
Soccer games tend to bring out not only rowdy behavior but sometimes thieves and gangs as well. Because of the potential for violence and unrest at sporting events travelers should be constantly aware of their surroundings and make a mental note of all nearby exits in case the need to leave quickly would arise.
6. Stay on Marked Paths
When hiking in rural and mountainous areas always stay on the marked paths. Don’t take short cuts off the regular path no matter how safe and easy it may appear. Some areas may look like a good path to take but beneath the grassy meadows the landscape may be extremely slippery or muddy. Though rarely fatal, there are poisonous snakes in Switzerland. These are found primarily in the mountains.
7. Obey Traffic Rules
This should be obvious no matter where a traveler goes but the Swiss are especially stringent about enforcing traffic laws. Cameras are everywhere and traffic fines apply to visitors as well as locals. Travelers who have been caught speeding have often returned home to find a ticket waiting in the mail. There are also steep fines for not traveling with a valid bus or train ticket.
8. Always Carry Identification
In today’s political climate it’s advisable to carry identification at all times, especially when travelling in a different country. This is especially important for individuals who may be travelling alone. This means carrying a passport and a driver’s license. Those who are found lacking proper identification may be treated as an illegal immigrant.
9. Be Willing to Lend a Helping Hand
Switzerland is a very hospitable country with Good Samaritan laws that are readily enforced. This means if an individual witnesses a person in trouble and doesn’t try to help in any way, that individual may be subject to a penalty. In the United States people often hesitate to intervene in situations because of the fear of lawsuits. It’s extremely unlikely, however, in Switzerland for a lawsuit to ensue when someone is genuinely trying to help another individual.