Better safe than sorry: Security Briefing
Amsterdam is one of the nicest, peaceful and calm cities on this planet; however, it is always advisable to think of safety and security issues while planning any trip, than to get into a trouble totally unready. This article is tackling safety and security issues related to Amsterdam and Holland but can also be read in the wide scope of general advices and tips for any traveler.
Safety and security start back at home while planning the trip. It is advisable to plan where to stay and book it in advance.
- Book your accommodation in advance
- Make the hotel details known to relatives so they can locate you when needed.
- Use your credit card when booking. It is secured, insured and at least you have a place to stay if your money is lost.
- Take enough money, travelers’ cheques and credit card with you.
- Always check the validity of your passport. Most airlines will not board you if your passport is valid for less than six months.
- Leave a copy of all your important traveling documents at home and take additional copy with you.
- Insurance: Never ever, travel without a medical insurance. A night in a hospital as well as medical assistance costs a lot of money. The insurance is cheap, so use it. Also make a general travel insurance for your belongings.
- Traveling tickets: make sure you know in advance if the tickets you just bought are changeable or not and if there is any fee involved. Most low fare airline tickets are not changeable (that’s why they are cheap). That is for the case you might need to change you itinerary.
- Packing: do not pack valuables in your luggage you intend to send to the aircraft belly. The insurance is limited to $400. Pack for overnight’s basics in case your luggage will not arrive with you. Trust me, it will happen one day.
- Flights: one major issue to bear in mind while air traveling, is security. Never ever take anything from any person to carry onboard any flight. You might be carrying drugs or money without even knowing it in the bad scenario or even explosive in the worst case. Americans, British and Israelis are at the highest risk for the second scenario.
While in Amsterdam
- Change money for local currency at authorized bank at the airport or GWK in the train station. Rates are better than you’ll find somewhere else.
- From Schiphol airport you can take the train to Amsterdam Central Station. It is cheap and fast. Taxi is more convenient and very organized. Most drivers will not reap you off, but the ride to town is expensive.
- Avoid following anyone who is offering you an accommodation. These people are called runners. Mostly they will get you to a hotel but they get commission for that and it is illegal for them to do so. Besides, if you acted as advised in the previous part, you should have a booked hotel by now. If not, you can approach the Dutch tourist agency called VVV, located at the airport and in front of Central Station. They will book you a hotel directly.
- Deposit your valuables in the hotel’s safe deposit box. It is by far the safest place. Remember, the hotel is never responsible for valuables you leave in the room.
- Avoid small and dark streets. Stay on the crowded main roads.
- Avoid dodgy places. I know it is hard to tell upfront, but if you have a bad feeling when entering, that’s enough. Turn and walk.
- It is advisable to place your wallet in a deep pocket or even better, a special money belt that is being sold in every Airport or traveling shop. Most people will ignore the logic of the safe deposit box and will rely on their intuition to take all their money on them. I know that and also every low life pickpocket as well.
- It is rare to be mugged by force on Amsterdam’s streets, but it may happen. In most scenarios you will be pick pocketed without even noticing it. This happens all the time in downtown area.
- Take a bill of about 20 Euros in the pocket of your shirt. If you are being mugged on the street, it might be enough to just hand it and go.
- Do not fight any pickpocket or mugger!!! They might be armed with a knife or be assisted by ugly friends from across the corner. Hand the 20 euros and walk. If you are a martial art specialist, you might take the chance and hit the lowlife with a spin kick. In ANY other case, you simply walk! Got it? You are on vacation and do not need to get hurt!
- Sex: use condoms! You don’t need me to tell you that, right?
- Drugs: Avoid! If you must, try smoking something in a coffee shop, but don’t try anything else including pills, space-cakes or magic mushrooms. You might end up in a hospital. I know you are not listening, but at least you are reading…
- Fights: avoid getting into fights with anyone. It isn’t worth it and might ruin your vacation, if not more than that. So, disengage and walk. Run if necessary.
- Leaving sin city? Do yourself a favor and clean your luggage and pockets from all drugs and whatever you put there. Crossing borders with drugs is a criminal offence in most countries and Amsterdam originated flights are something every custom officer is waiting for.
So, you managed to ignore all the previous advices mentioned above. You are drunk, stoned and you have just been robbed. What now?
Inform the nearest police department. They won’t do much but they will give you a copy of the report. Keep it. You will need it for your insurance.
Lost passport: you should at least notify your local consulate or embassy (see list of them in the tourist info section). Mostly, you do not need a passport to leave Holland, just show them the copy of the police report. Do the same while entering your country. Pending on the situation, some consulates will issue you another passport immediately if you require. In any case you must consult with them before crossing any border. They will instruct you further.
Lost airline ticket: you should contact the relevant local agent or airline ( see list of most airlines in Amsterdam on the tourist info section). They will ask you to come to their office. If you did make that copy of the ticket, your life will be so much easier. It is strictly to the procedures of the airlines whether to charge you or not for another ticket.
Lost credit card: call the credit card company’s emergency number at once. Your insurance for misusage of the card starts the moment you notify them to block it. The bastard who stole it from you knows that as well. The numbers for the local credit card companies are detailed hereunder for your convenience.
Lost luggage (airlines): luggage does not just disappear. In 95% of the cases it will find you within 48 HRS. Fill in the report on your arrival, give them the address of your hotel and they will send your luggage to you as soon as it arrives. In most IATA airlines your basic shopping of clothing will be partially or fully refunded if they can’t find your luggage within 48 HRS. Good to know.
Emergency & important telephone numbers
All numbers displayed here, as you should dial when in Amsterdam area code. If you are located outside Amsterdam, dial 020 for Amsterdam. Special numbers, 0900, 0800 and 112 are accessible from anywhere in Holland without an area code.
General emergency: Ambulance, Fire Brigade, Police 112
Central Medical Service Phone: 0900 5032042
24-hours Doctor: 592 3434 (in English)
24-hours Pharmacy. For the nearest 24-hours Pharmacy, tel: 020 694 8709
Telephone Directory Enquiries
National: 0900 8008
International: 0900 8418
National: 0800 0101
International: 0800 0410
Car maintenance, ANWB Rescue 0800 0888 (24-hours)
Hospitals in Amsterdam:
- AMC, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam: 5669111
- OLVG, Eerste Oosterparkstraat 279, Amsterdam: 5999111
- Sint Lucas Ziekenhuis, Jan Tooropstraat 164, Amsterdam: 5108911
- VU, De Boelelaan 1117, Amsterdam: 4444444
- Boven-IJ Ziekenhuis, Statenjachtstraat 1, Amsterdam: 6346346
- Slotervaart Ziekenhuis, Louwesweg 6: 5124113
Emergency Number: 112
General number for police: 0900-8844
- Lijnbaansgracht 219, Amsterdam
- Beursstraat 33, Amsterdam
- Prinsengracht 1109, Amsterdam
- Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 104-108, Amsterdam
- Keizersstraat 3, Amsterdam
- Marnixstraat 148, Amsterdam