To PIN or not to PIN: There’s really no question

My latest travel story for CNBC Road Warrior is all about plastic: the good (chip and PIN cards), the not-so-bad (signature and PIN cards), and the ugly (magnetic stripe cards).

Forget the old-fashioned Visa card. Paris wants your cash.Forget the old-fashioned Visa card. Paris wants your cash.

One thing I learned while researching this story is that no matter how respectable or trustworthy you may appear, it’s difficult to loiter around train station ticket counters or machines to interview tourists without them thinking you’re trying to rob them.

American tourists, who have been adamantly warned that pickpockets are rampant in Europe, sometimes seem convinced they are about to be robbed even if all evidence points to the contrary. David Sedaris wrote an extremely funny essay about this peculiar phenomenon, which he reads here on This American Life.

Unfortunately, wearing fanny packs, bulky money belts, and other awkward accessories that scream I’m a tourist may make one more likely to actually get pickpocketed…