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Fanny Pack Advice

I am planning a month long trip abroad and am wondering about what to use to daily carry a few things around with us. A fanny pack seems like a logical idea but am worried and wondering about theft.....RS suggests a small daypack but that too can be stolen off a person. i don't want just a money belt because we often want to take a snack with us. Do you experienced travelrs have any input?

Posted by
1717 posts

RS Civita shoulder bag.
With people around, hold it under your arm or cross body if you're worried about snatchers.

Posted by
6874 posts

Hi cathyvonderhaar
To eliminate wearing fanny pack When Sightseeing:
Keep things like large sums of cash, passport, a credit card you will not use and medication (just carry enough of what you need for a day) in a safe in your room at the hotel.

Carry a debit atm card in pouch around neck under clothes.
Carry enough cash you budgeted for a day and credit card in inner pocket
Put medications for a day in any pocket.

Carry a day pack for stuff of little or no value if stole like snacks little water bottles or a guide book.
Carry a camera around neck if possible or inner pocket

Posted by
5697 posts

I often use a small, light Civita backpack to carry water, snacks, raincoat and/or sweater, guidebook pages, and anything else we pick up along the way (but not money/cards.) Money belt all the time. Same cross-body bag I use at home. For places where a backpack is not allowed, a packable shopping bag may work (I like the 99¢ ones from IKEA.) Fanny pack ... not my style.

Posted by
10238 posts

A fanny pack is like a sign to pickpockets saying "here I am, come and get me." They are not that popular.

I'd suggest looking into a small cross body bag. Much harder to get off anyone and even harder to get into if kept in front of you and your arm over it in crowded situations. You will see these worn by men and women all over Europe.

Just remember to never drape it over your chair when you sit down or put the bag on the ground. That is your greatest chance of theft. It should have at least a flap and/or a zipper closure.

Posted by
31318 posts

cathy,

My first comment is that if one of your destinations will be the U.K., don't call it a "Fanny Pack". Refer to it as a "Waist Pack" instead.

I agree with Frank II and feel that Waist Packs are like a beacon for pickpockets. You could buy a locking model from Pacsafe but that's not the most practical solution, as each time you need something you'd have to unlock and then re-lock it. That would be a PITA! Wearing a Money Belt is a good method for "deep storage" of cash and credit cards, along with a cross body / Messenger bag for daily expense cash, books, maps, camera or whatever. Have a look at the shopping section on this website or the Tom Bihn website.

Posted by
3581 posts

I always wear a money belt for deep (like go to the toilet and dig it out) storage of money, passport, credit cards, etc. I gave up on any kind of a backpack years ago because it was just too cumbersome.

My favorite large cross-body bag is a baggallini Hobo tote. I have one in blue and one in red. The danger of any largish bag is that you fill it up with stuff, making it heavy and uncomfortable. This company makes smaller ones than mine as well as many other kinds of cross-body bags. I do wear it across my body with my left arm over it.

When I don't need to carry much of anything, I use a very small bag. I have 2 that I really like, a baggallini Nassau in gray and an even smaller Bryant pouch in blue. Unfortunately, the latter is a totally unnecessary rfid item, but I like the size and the shape.

With any of these cross-body bags, just like at home, I keep them on in a restaurant. I slide the strap off my right shoulder, keeping it around my waist and situate the bag in a way that it would be very difficult for anyone to get to it. I try to sit in places that provide more security. In a booth or on a bench, I can put the bag behind me. That often has the extra benefit of supporting my lower back. Go ahead and put the old lady in a corner. I can have the bag right next to the wall. On a chair out in the open, under a thigh. Even the biggest of my cross-body bags will fit, because I don't fill it up, so it lays flat.

Posted by
7969 posts

Wear a cross body messenger bag. Easiest way to keep things handy, but also safe. Back packs are not recommended as you have to take them off every single time you want something out of them. Easier to forget too. A messenger bag you can leave on all the time, even sitting in a cafe or restaurant.

Do be aware that calling them "fanny" packs has a whole different meaning in the UK. You might want to consider calling them hip packs or waist packs, or the ever popular bum bags.

Contrary to popular belief, they are getting trendy here in Europe and you can buy decorative ones every where, even cool looking leather ones at medieval festivals.

Posted by
8054 posts

Ken and Jo, that was my first thought reading the thread title... do not call it a fanny pack.

Posted by
2466 posts

I'd just carry a regular tote bag - something about the size of a Vogue magazine. It should have a zipper, maybe one or two compartments on the inside.
If it has a shoulder strap, so much the better, but not really necessary.
You won't need any locks, cable ties or anything if you just pay attention to your belongings.

Keep everything - copy of passport, an extra credit card, a little extra cash - in a neck pouch or money belt. Leave actual passport, plus extra credit cards and cash in the hotel safe.
Most grocery stores will charge for bags, or won't give you any. It's best to come prepared with a little foldup fabric bag. You can buy them in Paris for around 1 EU.

Posted by
12400 posts

Hi,

The waist pack is something I definitely wear on a daily basis on a trip, plus the neck pouch and the hidden pocket. These two are for deep storage. "They" are not going to get to it, neither will "they" get to the waist pack, I also carry twisters or safety pins if needed. So far, no problems with wearing the waist pack, not even close.

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you all!
I am planning to use a money belt under my clothes. I had wondered if the 'waist pack' might draw attention more than a cross shoulder messenger style bag. I wondered what would draw thieves more? It sounds like the 'waist pack' is more of a lure to them even if it doesn't have important/money in them. Thank you all for the input! Much appreciated!

Posted by
11450 posts

Cathy . I just use a messenger style bag I wear cross body.. have used it for years and many many visits.. I keep important stuff in an inside zippered pocket.
I leave passport and most money in hotel safe. .or if in transit I put them in my money belt under clothes .

So nothing in purse worth stealing really.. maybe 100 euros at most..

I can fit a small snack into my bag.. or just carry a small daypack.. they wont steal your lunch generally.

Men should never put wallet in back pocket.. and be very wary about front pants pockets too.. the pickpockets are VERY good.. men always say they are sure they would feel a hand in their pocket. but they may be surprised.

Posted by
7969 posts

What you are wearing or carrying does not draw thieves. People know you aren't local by how you walk, etc. You are in tourist zones with tons of other tourists. Wear your money belt and your messenger bag and just relax.

Posted by
2539 posts

No need for a waist pack unless you actually prefer them. They are not very common and I do think that anything that makes you stand out in a bad way among the throng of tourists may attract thieves. A waist pack on someone who also has the mannerisms of a new, cautious traveler seems like an easy way to look like an easy mark.

Yes, if people look at you playing a game of "tourist or local" they will know you're a tourist. The goal is to broadly blend in when surveying the crowd.

Cross body bags that zip fully (nothing with just a flap - has to zip) worn with zippers towards your body, combined with an under-clothes money belt for deep storage is your best bet.

Posted by
11613 posts

I use a small cross-body bag that I bought at Mandarina Duck. It holds: change purse, map, iPad, iPhone, bottle of water, small notebook, pen, and sometimes my neck wallet attached to the fabric inside bottom of the bag with a big safety pin.

Posted by
1807 posts

If this was 1980 I'd say a fanny pack is a great idea. On travel days I carry a messenger bag, most seem to prefer a small backpack. When out and about everything stays in the hotel except cash, tickets, debit card and camera. My wife doesn't carry a bag while out for the day and says she is carefree and happy. Staying close to major attractions makes this strategy easier. Water is usually available everywhere and the bag I buy to carry some groceries back to the hotel usually makes a fine souvenir.

Posted by
12400 posts

People know you are a tourist (the bad guys too), no matter where you are, be it in the tourist zones or part of the city, or in towns where there is no tourist in sight except you. Numerous characteristics about you will betray, spot you out as a tourist, regardless.

Posted by
4999 posts

I wear a money belt in places where pickpocketing is a risk, then carry a cloth bag, with water and other small items.

Posted by
1092 posts

I use a Travelon cross body bag in low-profile black although they also come in wonderful colors.
I bought it from ebags. They still carry it and frequently have good sales.
It comes in a variety of sizes. Mine will fit my Ipad mini.
I like the extra security features, too. And I use it at home anytime I need to carry more than a small wallet and phone.

Posted by
2466 posts

The point is that you don't need a special bag with bells and whistles that might - and the operative word is MIGHT - prevent your getting robbed.
I wouldn't spend any extra money for a new bag, which won't protect you if you are expecting to have a false sense of security.
Just use what you carry when you're at home.
Haven't seen a "fanny pack" in Europe in ages.

Posted by
11798 posts

Whether you decide on a fanny pack or light daypack, don't put anything in it you really don't want to lose. I like to carry a Civita bag. It works for an umbrella, sweater, picnic stuff, swiss army knife, grocery bag, etc. I won't put anything in that would be an issue to replace if it were lost.

To some extent security depends on where and when you travel. If you are in a major tourist area in the popular times, you need to be extra careful. If you're off the beaten path and outside of high season, your not as likely to run into thieves.

Posted by
2353 posts

@chex - I agree. I just carry a purse - no special travel purse but it is made of heavy leather with very substantial straps.

We found there is special "gypsy magnet" in waist belts - especially in Italy! Put one on - they come swarming!

Posted by
1808 posts

LOVE, love my fanny pack/waist belt or whatever you want to call it. I always wear it and generally carry my still and video camera in it. Then hubby carries a day civita bag with sweaters, Kleenex, water, etc. We both wear money belts for credit cards, cash, passports, etc. I don't believe it makes me a target. We all look like American travelers whether we have a fanny pack or day bag. I love having my hands free and the pack sits right in front of me. I use a safety pin between the zipper and end the pack so it would be hard for someone to mess with it. Carrying a day bag on your shoulder or back seems like much more of a target, but in those crowded cities I use produce ties to lock up those zippers too. We look pretty zipped up to anyone interested in messing with us, they'd instead chose an easy target. I say use the "fanny pack"!!

Posted by
1144 posts

Well since you asked....No on the fanny pack...I just picture the fanny pack, a scrunchie in your hair and leg warmers.

Something around my waist all day sounds like a hot sweaty mess, not to mention drawing attention to my waist with a bag of goodies in it. Plus I remember in the 80's when I wore one, if that thing was not zippered and I bent over, out came everything.
I am with others, a simple cross body bag to hold what you need for the day. Zipper on top. Go to TJ Max or Marshalls for a great selection of smallish bags. Think about what you carry all day and the size you will need.

It good to worry about theft and understand how it can happen in each county. Your more aware of scams and such, but not paranoid. On my last trip I brought myself up to speed by watching you-tube videos on the subject to see them in action and only on public transport did I even think about it.

Posted by
12400 posts

"We all look like American travelers whether we have a fanny pack or a day bag." How absolutely true, and can be targeted as such!

Posted by
1144 posts

"We all look like American travelers whether we have a fanny pack or a day bag."
Sometimes yes and sometimes no, I have been approached by a woman in Paris and asked something in French, I was in a department store and I just said "I don't work here". (girl to girl it was the universal langue of "where can I find" )..it happens to me all the time in America too.

Posted by
1717 posts

One reason I like the RS civita shoulder bag is that since it doesn't have a flap/foldover like a messenger-style bag and also doesn't have zippers on the main compartment that open far around the sides like a daypack, it can therefore serve as a small tote bag when you just leave the zipper open. Good for a full size baguette or a poster tube. Security issues don't concern me as much as utility. The back side pocket is great for stuffing your map or brochure part-way into so you can further advertise your 'I'm a stranger in town' status. Just add an American flag pin or patch and you're set to go.

Posted by
1717 posts

Thumbs up, Richard --
see also the lyrics to the Death Cab For Cutie hit song
"You Are A Tourist"
being hummed by emo fans for more than five years already.

Posted by
12400 posts

All very true and accurate, I've seen them all in Germany, plus more characteristics that give you away/betray you, such as holding the fork and knife at a meal, not ordering mineral water but a coke instead, American hand gestures (different from German ones), not responding with anything when someone says "Morgen" to you as you enter the breakfast room in a Pension, or your not saying "Morgen" as you enter to people already in the breakfast room.

Posted by
2353 posts

@Richard - I am assuming (hoping) your post is tongue in cheek.

Posted by
10238 posts

And European tourists can be spotted in America just as easily.

I'm not going to apologize for sometimes acting American in another country because I am one. I can give you a list of things Europeans do in the U.S. that have them stand out as tourists just as much.

And some of these tourists to the U.S. are louder, ruder and more demanding than any American tourist I've ever seen in Europe. And that's from experience working with them.

Posted by
2466 posts

Fanny pack or no fanny pack - everyone will know you're a tourist because you are not rushing to work or on your way to school.
Also because you will probably be rushing towards the nearest major monuments.
It won't matter to anyone unless you are extremely self-conscious.
Relax and just act as normally as possible under the circumstances.

Posted by
2539 posts

Yes, of course everyone will know you're a tourist.

What you want is to be an unobtrusive tourist, one who doesn't call attention to oneself in a negative way. By blending in you may avoid the eye of some thieves, and you will be less likely to be rippped off or treated poorly if you look like a smart, savvy tourist instead of a paranoid first-timer. This is mainly conveyed in body language and voice, but clothing can be a part of it (a smaller part than in years past). I think waist packs convey that negative message simply because they are very uncommon and the main reason one wears them in a city is for paranoia reasons (I know running and hiking reasons are different).

Posted by
2353 posts

In any country, any nationality, being a tourist is NOT a bad thing! I am proud to tout that I am a tourist.

Out of all of the places in the world I have chosen yours as the one to spend my hard earned money to visit, enjoy your culture, take in your sights, learn your history. While I am here I will do my very best to be a good steward of your customs, your country, and your landmarks.

People need to stop worrying so much about how to blend in...just be yourself, wear what is comfortable, mostly relax and enjoy!

Take reasonable precautions to not be a target for thieves - that is the same anywhere.

Posted by
1808 posts

Yep, so take a fanny pack, purse, day bag, whatever feels best for you. Just keep track of it, keep it secure, and have fun.

Posted by
12400 posts

"goose stepping" If so, then there must be music. So, to what tune?

Be advised too that goose stepping is part of the routine today for the Poles, Hungarians, Russians, the Taiwanese armies, and in the Cold War days it was part of the East Germans if you ever saw their "changing of the guard" routine.

Posted by
12400 posts

I know the locals know I'm not from there since I usually wear white sneakers, always a fanny belt, but no baseball cap or day pack, messenger bag, etc.

Posted by
1717 posts

I've said that denizens of the WWW are trying to promulgate the use of a /s to designate tongue-in-cheek since tone is often difficult to detect, but I've not gotten into the habit of using /s consistently myself.

I must have been poorly raised. /s

I'm surprised to see comments saying they never or nearly never see Europeans wearing waist pouches, that it is confined to Americans in the '80s, when I see specialized waist carriers in use pretty often -- boules players who carry their own equipment in leather fanny packs, mobile medics with first-aid/utility kits, other first responders of various kinds watching out for our security in high-traffic areas, vendors who have variations on aprons with pockets, nannies and daycare providers, artisans with creative tool pouches, and so on. Maybe my mind just has a wider set of associations with fanny packs. /s

At gun shows a lot of people are wearing fanny packs for (semi) concealed carry, and who is going to accuse gun enthusiasts of being outre? /s /s That may be a non-sequitor since I haven't been to a gun show in Europe.

Posted by
12400 posts

More discriminating music is in order. name the piece of march music by Wagner. How about an Austrian piece " Unter dem Doppeladler," or what you hear at the Munich Hofbraeuhaus, when the band strikes up " Bayrischer Defiliermarsch? " The Russians will play their tunes, the Poles theirs when goose stepping, but no Wagner.

Posted by
7969 posts

I have deleted my posts.
You all have a nice weekend.

Don't use the fanny pack (bum bag in British "countries) My mom got pick pocketed on the RER in Paris and folks had been telling her not to wear it. She got cornered coming onto the train and they snuck into it when it was on her stomach and snatched some cash but nothing major. Still, she was lucky.

Posted by
988 posts

"main reason one wears them in a city is for paranoia reasons (I know running and hiking reasons are different)." Huh??? What an odd statement.

I use a waist belt for convenience. It houses my PnS camera and that's it. Easy in and easy out and it's hands-free.
A jacket with a DEEP pocket works just as well, but it's not always jacket weather and jackets with deep pockets are hard to find.

Posted by
4450 posts

Where do people keep their wallets, purses and phones etc when walking around their home town?

Posted by
12400 posts

In Calif and in my hometown, my front pants pocket (the left one) is where the wallet goes, the cell phone in the right front pocket if I have it on me. I do likewise in Europe. I don't put the cell phone in the waist belt I'm wearing in Europe.

Posted by
7969 posts

I wear a messenger bag, cross shoulder, everywhere I go. At home and when I travel. Everything is safe, but handy for me to get to.

The only time I wore a hip pack was on the Camino. It had my guidebook, pilgrim pass, camera, money for the day, tissues, pen, and chocolate. My money belt held my debit card, ins. card, passport, and big money.

Posted by
2525 posts

Buy and use whatever works for you. I like a back pack...never been a problem with theft, etc. Others are zealots regarding messenger bags. Fine. "Fanny" or whatever you wish to call them packs are still manufactured and sold. Some of my friends in Europe use them...maybe they've been wrong all these years.

Posted by
11450 posts

JC I cant compare how I deal with my stuff here at home to when in Europe.

We are all pretty careless here.. every year or so we hear about someone having their wallet taken from their purse.. that they've left open in the basket of their grocery trolley, and walked away from to get something.. lol I have to remind myself not to do that .. lol

Here I can easily put my phone on the table at an outdoor café.. foolish thing to do in many places in Europe..

Here I can shove my phone in my pocket.. half sticking out.. and my hubby wears his wallet in his back pocket.. all no nos for Europe.

I use a cross carried messenger style purse,, here and abroad and I love it.. so comfy , lightweight, and easily to access for me, no so for pickpockets.

Posted by
4450 posts

@ Pat

Why is placing a phone on a table a no-no in Europe? A pretty sweeping statement isn't it? I've sat a tables in bars, cafes etc throughout Europe with my phone on the table and never had one swiped. I've walked around Paris, Barcelona, London, Berlin, Warsaw, Moscow, Budapest etc with my wallet in my back pocket and it's never been stolen.

I travel to the US at least once a year, never had any problems yet I'm statistically far more likely to be carjacked or mugged in the US than I am in Europe yet I'm never overcome by a sense of paranoia that results in me secreting my personal belongings in hard to reach places when I travel there. Why is there this big perception that Europe is one heaving mass of petty crime and pickpocketry? Do people in the US (or Canada) carry their money in "fanny packs" when they're in their home town? Unlikely so why the big concern when they travel to Europe?

Posted by
11450 posts

JC.. you have been lucky and lucky only.

I have been travelling to Europe since 1972.

Leaving your phone out on the table in some areas in a big city is foolish... glad you've been lucky.

I travel solo, with kids, with friends and with hubby.. in all cases I am careful.. not foolish.

And btw .. I have had waiters reprimand/remind me about leaving stuff out on tables..

Sure if you are in some small village or town your risk of being pickpocketed or having a run by swiping is very low.. but if you don't want to risk your stuff.. don't pull that careless behaviour in Paris, Rome, Barcelona and then whine on the forums about it.

Posted by
10238 posts

To those who say it has never happened to me, I always add......yet. If it never happens consider yourself lucky.

J.C.--the reason we carry out "wallet contents" differently overseas than we do at home is to prevent having to replace them.

If I lose my driver's license, I have to wait until I get home to get a replacement. If I had planned to rent a car, that goes out the window because without a license I don't get a car.

If I lose my passport, I have to waste a day at the nearest U.S. consulate to get a replacement. And the consulate may not be that near.

If I lose my credit cards, it may take a few days to get to me. What if I had planned to go to a new town? Will the cards find me and what do I use to check in even if the hotel would take me without a passport.

And think if you were traveling to the U.S., how easy would it be to get your stuff replaced across the ocean.

Don't get into the thinking "well if it hasn't happended to me then it doesn't happen to anyone.

Posted by
269 posts

Hi Cathy,
Look into Pacsafe bags. They have a variety of shoulder and cross-body purses in all sizes/colors. They do have locking clips, which some people find cumbersome, but I appreciate on the subway and city bus. Plus you can lock the strap around a chair when sitting down at an outdoor restaurant and not worry about theft. The zipper compartment that hold my guidebook/maps I keep open. If that goes missing it's really not a big deal. Mine is large enough to hold a water bottle and small umbrella in the two outside pockets, a Kindle, plus a wallet and lightweight shopping bag. I've even rolled up my raincoat and shoved it in there when not in use. My husband wears a cross body camera bag that doubles as a day bag (in addition to the DSLR in it). We use either money belts or the hotel safe, depending on the day/situation. Our day money goes into our bags/pockets.
Have fun on your trip!

Posted by
12400 posts

How often have I seen a person here sitting at a diner, table or counter, bar, coffee shop and then gets up to do something, ie, hit the WC or go feed the parking meter and leaves his cell phone, or smart phone, sun glasses, or car keys sitting when he goes to do this chore? The person is away from his "valuables" for a little time or some time, confident that all of it will be there when he gets back.

Here I've never heard anyone say upon returning that his sunglasses or cell phone was gone, or car keys, whatever that was left lying there. I would suspect, certainly would not bet on it, that if the person did exactly likewise in Europe as he does here his chances of seeing his stuff still there when he returned would be diminished.

I think in Germany the chances of getting hit say, at a Starbucks in Berlin or Hamburg are less than in Paris or Rome. Leave your day bag on the coffee shop table or hanging from the chair in Paris or Rome when you go to the WC, see if it's all there when you get back. Here one sees that all the time, oblivious to any chance that the whole bag might be gone or just "valuables"

I got hit by Roma girl pickpockets once in 22 trips, that was in Berlin in 1995 near Museum Island, which I consider a fluke, since I was called over to see this block to see the Russians displaying their wares, otherwise I would never have been at that spot. Admittedly, there have been a couple of close-calls with scammers or potential pickpockets, but basically got myself out of there by being rude or playing dumb. No way will I lose my CA. Dr Lic. Even if it did happen, I don't need it in Europe.