I am taking the 2 week My Way Europe tour. Would you recommend using a cross body anti theft purse/bag, money belt, both or neither?
I do a cross body anti-theft purse and money belt. The money belt for our passports, spare cash and back up credit card/ATM card. I keep the day's cash and one frequently used credit card in my anti-theft purse.
It you asking about a steel mesh, steel cord strap style of purse -- Forget it. That is overkill and heavy. Use a money belt for deep storage and a simple purse for daily cash and you are fine.
What y_elaine said. I use a small cross body bag (not "anti-theft") for stuff I'm going to need during the day or the outing, and a money belt for credit cards, debit card, and cash (over and above what I think I'll need that day).
The money belt is basically "deep storage." You don't want to be digging in it every time you buy something. If I know I'm going to the ATM that outing, I'll put my debit card in the most inaccessible pocket in my cross-body bag.
Edit to add: Frank's comment got posted while I was composing mine. I'll ditto his, as well.
I hate the money belt and use a pacsafe cross body bag. Have never had a problem. (Knock wood). Depends on how you feel about the money belt wear one some weekend as you are running errands and see if you like it.
Carry anything you want outside of a money belt as long as you are prepared to lose it. Pickpockets have seen it all and are very good at what they do.
Anything I can't afford to lose goes in a money belt or hotel safe - depending on where I'm going and what I'm doing that day. Everything else - small change, water bottle, tissues, etc. goes in a normal cross body purse. Anti-theft bags are overkill and usually too heavy for me, but some people feel better using them - I'm sure the manufacturers and sellers are happy that somebody likes them.
I'm definitely in the minority here. I carry a lightweight purse backpack or cross body purse, and no money belt. Boyfriend carries his normal wallet and a lightweight backpack, usually only holding extra sweaters, our RS guidebook and a water bottle. Also no money belt. Separate bank and credit card accounts. Digital copies of both of our passports are accessible on our phones. If one of us were to lose a wallet, we'd still be okay. I realize this goes against what most everyone else would suggest, but really, those who live in those big cities we are visiting?? None of them are wearing a money belt. Be aware of your surroundings, and the fact that you are a target for petty thieves, and plan accordingly.
Are pickpockets now taking Viking River Cruises? Must be lucrative.
Seriously, simple precautions are all that are needed, as was suggested.
I find it interesting that those who are adamant about money belts, poo poo antitheft purses. It seems like a contradiction to me. Use one or the other, if you want. I use a leg belt when I use one, usually in transport, but more so I can split my important stuff into two spots, and now I tend to just divide it up between bags. I've used a pacsafe at home for years and find the organization great. And on the subway those locks are advantageous. My now favorite is a small travelon cross body that fits into a travelon backpack, which is light and extremely well organized. I don't understand the weight complaint as my bags no different than other bags. I am thinking of leaving my money belt at home next time, because due to security changes it is just a PITA now, taking it off and on anyway. I live in a city and am not afraid of losing my financial information as I am aware and have a system. If I lose my passport, I'll just go over to the embassy for a new one. That being said, on my RS tour I did wear mine, because they asked us to do so...otherwise I wouldn't have bothered. So, do whatever makes it easiest for you to keep track of your things as you are more apt to lose something than be pickpocketed, IMO.
I just use a crossbody messenger style purse and a small wallet (Coach wristlet that is attached to bottom of purse, can be accessed but isn’t going anywhere without my knowledge) and also a belt loop pouch for extra cards & cash that I wear inside my jeans along my hip.
I have been taking my Heys TravelMate crossbody around Europe for years. It is relatively small in size, lightweight, and has multiple compartments which I lock with carabiner keychains. It holds my i-pad mini, a coin purse in which I keep all foreign coins and small denomination bills, a small sunscreen tube, and has an ouside pull-out pocket for a small water bottle so if it leaks, it doesn't damage the contents of my bag. The flap has a small pocket in which I keep my train tickets/pass for easy access. In addition, I wear a money belt to hold my credit cards and large denomination bills.
If you are not interested in wearing either, I just discovered and purchased for our upcoming hiking trip through Cinque Terre, the Scott-E vest, which has 18 interior pockets. It can hold an i-pad mini, sunglasses, etc. My daughter just wore one on a hiking trip through Japan, and raved about it. There is a clever website displaying the contents of the vest. If you do purchase one, order it one or two sizes larger because the vest is cut small, and if the pockets are filled, it may not close. It will look less bulky if fitted loosely. I think the design is ingenius for travelers, hikers, marathon walkers, etc.
I have been using the Travelon Signature cross body pouch as my daily purse since 2015, and have used it on all three trips to Europe. It is NOT heavy, nor is a larger model that I also own. The pouch holds quite a bit more than one would think and is an ideal size for travel. I can fit my tablet down into it if needed although I typically just carry my phone as it weighs less.
I want the extra security of a locking bag. It gives me peace of mind when in crowds or public transport. I added an extra lobster claw to the original lock so I can also lock the back zippered area. My bag cost about $35, so not expensive and it is still going strong after three years of daily use. I have bought this model of purse from both Travelon and ebags, depending on which site was cheaper. I like it so much that I now own it in three different colors.
When out and about I never take the bag off and set it down anywhere. Not beside me, not hanging from a chair or hook, etc. I also practice that at home here in the US. It sits comfortably in my lap when dining.
You need to take whatever gives YOU peace of mind about the security of your belongings, whether it be a neck wallet, money belt, or anti-theft purse.
I bought the Travelon 3 compartment crossbody for my day bag and Pacsafe for my travel bag (purse fits inside). Love all the room and the security features. That said, I used the crossbody for the first time on a recent trip to Hawaii and found it heavy and uncomfortable when carrying all the day's supplies (regular purse stuff plus camera). I also took my neck wallet although I really didn't need that much security. It came in handy to hold cash and credit cards at Pearl Harbor where purses were not allowed instead of leaving those locked in the car trunk. I took the adjuster thingy off and just tied a low loop to shorten the strap to a comfortable length because the plastic adjuster jabbed into my shoulder.
Now I'm rethinking what I'll use next trip and may go back to my old leather backpack and put pads on its straps for comfort. Maybe include a very small purse inside for when backpacks have to be checked. As you can see there is no one type of bag that fits all. You have to play with each to see what's comfortable and works for you.
As you can see there is no one system that works for everyone!
I am a money belt and cross body purse person. I use the money belt for deep storage (passport once I am thru Immigration, credit and debit cards, extra money, 3X5 card with my passwords on it (lol)). I use a Le Sportsac Everyday bag for my cross body purse and I like it because it hangs horizontally not vertically and will hold my iPad Mini. It also has small exterior pockets that are perfect for my Paris Museum Pass, metro tickets or Paris metro or London Underground passes.
Now, I did get pickpocketed in Paris last spring using this bag. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/oops-sort-of-pick-pocketed-on-paris-metro-yesterday
For my trip this Fall to Paris and UK I added some safety features including a few split rings and carabiners. What they lifted from my purse in April was my little pouch of OTC meds and stuff, no money or cards. I added a ring at the bottom of the purse, added a ring onto the OTC pouch and connected them with a short light coil from DryDoc. I sewed a ring up near the small inside zipper compartment so I could connect a carabiner to that zipper. I made it a habit to connect every zipper each time I got in to my purse. I had no problem, but then prior to April, I had had no problem in my yearly trips to Paris in 2014, 2015, 2016.
I also use a small cross body wallet from Eddie Bauer. I use this on days that it is raining because I can zip it up under my rain jacket. I travel solo and use it on the plane to hold my passport and phone, wearing it under my travel cardigan. I switch my passport over to my money belt after I get thru Immigration at my destination. I have an Eddie Bauer outlet near me so I wound up getting it for about $5 on some kind of sale.
You didn't ask this but I will mention it anyway. You'll want a backpack or tote for a bus bag - something to have with you during the day while you are in transit to hold water (sold by the bus driver usually for 1E), guide book, snacks, jacket. You can also use this bag to take your things for 2 nights in to Venice. Venice is easier to manage if you don't have a suitcase. Every one of those cute bridges you see actually has steps not a ramp so you have to carry your back up and over everyone. If you pack a clean shirt, a couple of pr of unders, your toiletries into your tote/backpack you'll find this an easier experience both on the vaporetto in from the bus parking lot at Tronchetto as well as walking from the vaporetto dock to your hotel. On the 21 Best of Europe I did I used a Le Sportsac Medium Travel Tote which was just OK (easy to pack in a suitcase but not cross body). On other RS trips I have used his Veloce backpack which is also just OK (heavier, difficult to pack in the suitcase if you are not using it in transit but nice pockets).
I hope you are planning to arrive in Paris at least a night or 2 ahead of time. Paris is very easy to get around and you will want time to recover from jet lag and to see things that are not on the tour.
You'll have a wonderful time on this trip!
We have a Pacsafe and love it. Neither of us can tolerate moneybelts so a combo of this bag (my husband usually carries but I could as well) and a small zippered pouch pinned under my waistband for a little personal cash does the trick. I have a standard shoulder bag for my camera, water bottle, wetwipes, guidebook and other odds and ends I like to have along for the day and he puts all the valuables in the Pac. Someone would have to work REALLY hard to get into it, and to our knowledge no one has even tried.
The weight of the bag doesn't bother either of us compared to what we have to pack around daily on our hiking trips.
I've started dividing up my cards into two wallets.
The debit and credit card, and local cash, go into my regular wallet in my small crossbody mini-bag. I no longer use anti-theft bags, but if I feel the need, my cross-body bag zippers are secured with tiny locking carabiners. The wallet inside is clipped in as well, using a keystrap that hooks into an o-ring.
A spare wallet with a debit and credit card (different accounts from the ones in my main bag), goes into a secured pocket. Usually it's a security pocket in my jacket, as I frequently travel during cold weather.
Finally, each wallet has a "Tile" inside, which won't help in the case of theft, but has been useful in other circumstances.
It seems that most of us on this forum have discovered what works for us. I own two different sizes of Pac-Safe cross body bags. I bought the larger one for my first trip abroad; too heavy and bulky so bought the smaller one. After a couple of trips using the summer one, I came to the conclusion that the Pac-Safe bags were too heavy and also the strap too rigid and cumbersome because of the metal inside. For my last two trips, I have used a very lightweight Piazza Daybag (from eBags). It has 2 small water bottle/umbrella pockets (very convenient) and numerous zippers. One of the zippers is against my body, so I keep my phone there. Also, I tether my Baggalini wallet to one of the zipper pulls inside the bag. I do use a "money belt;" one with a strap which I wear cross-body and tucked into my pants when we were traveling. For day to day, I usually kept it along with my passport and extra credit card in my suitcase in the hotel.
"If I lose my passport, I'll just go over to the embassy for a new one. " is not something I would want to do. (By the way, the person who posted that usually gives good tips; I just disagree with this one.)
It will take time, likely more than a day. Check the State Department website. Since you will be taking the '2 week My Way Europe tour, ' if you are waiting on your passport, you may miss the paid-for group transportation to the next site and will be on your own to arrange transport to catch up with the tour.
Also, do you want to spend any time (hours, minimum; maybe a couple of days) on your vacation getting a new passport?
What if there is not a US embassy in the city where you are when your passport is lost?
Passport and travel info, including airline info, I keep secure at all times. I carry a photocopy of my passport to use as ID when needed, such as hotel check-in, plus a second copy as backup in a separate location.
GoodmanTX, LOL, I was rather cavalier! I think I was thinking of my next trip when I'll be staying in Amsterdam, relaxing, and hitting the museums. Easy walk to the embassy. I plan to relieve myself of the money belt on this trip. And, this position also is coming from someone who is retired so what's a day longer in Europe? ;) Every trip is different though... I'll let you know if it doesn't work out.
Beth, what's a Tile, and how is it useful?
I've personally found them helpful. Again, not of much use if something is stolen, but they are great for locating keys and other small things that are misplaced nearby :)
Thanks, Beth. Sounds useful. I know a few people who should get one.
We also use a PacSafe metrosafe - I think ours is a 250. Never tried a money belt. Even if it wasn't for the security features, I like the organization of it - the two pockets on the sides will hold a small travel umbrella (for rainy days) and a bottle of water. Minimal cash is kept in the back zipper. Maps, snacks, credit cards and whatnot inside, and the extra money and passports are kept in what I would call their deep storage - in a zippered compartment, under the flap and in a pocket with Velcro over that - I guess the only way someone is getting in there is if they physically steal the bag or we are sleeping heavily.
My husband carries it since I have the camera stuff and it doesn't look like a 'woman's purse' - as opposed to the Buxton cross body organizer bag I took on our first trip.
The biggest thing...of course...is try to be aware of your surroundings - more when you are taking public transport - but also in crowded area like museum entrances or somewhere where you could encounter a line - like a busy coffee shop or waiting in line for a site (like the Colosseum or Vatican or wherever could be busy where you are going).
I'm kind of puzzled by the complaints that the Pacsafe bags are 'too heavy' since I find the ones I have to be lighter than a leather bag the same size and about the same as heavy canvas. I skip the money belt/neck wallet because of sensory issues, and the Pacsafes work well for me when I'm going to be in locations of concern.