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Day Packs?

My wife and I are going to Italy for 3-4 weeks this spring. I have read that shorts, except around the beach, white tennis shoes and fanny packs will all brand us as tourists from the US. Since we would like to fit in as best we can, my question has primarily to do with the use of a fanny pack. I initially thought I would use a fanny pack to carry water, light coat etc. during the day as we as we visit the various sites. I would appreciate input about the use of a fanny pack vis a vis small back pack for this purpose.

Posted by
4152 posts

I agree with Steve, don't try to fit in because you won't. A messenger bag is a great solution and won't scream "tourist". You don't need a huge one. You may want to invest in a money belt to be worn under your clothing. This will help protect you from pick pockets.


Posted by
15729 posts

Fanny packs are definitely worn by tourists only. Messenger bags are popular in Europe. Backpacks are becoming more popular as people dress casually but still have to lug around a laptop. Rather than a briefcase, many Europeans, especially the younger ones, have adopted the backpack.

The big thing that will give you away as a tourist is the large water bottle Americans seem to believe they must carry around.

Posted by
32273 posts


I agree with the others - a "Fanny Pack" and to a lesser extent a Daypack tend to mark the wearer as a "tourist". I noticed lots of Italians carrying Messenger Bags (aka "Man Purses"), so one of those wouldn't be as obvious. However, the locals will probably spot you as a tourist fairly quickly anyway.

Especially in the cities in Italy, definitely wear a Money Belt!

BTW, if you're ever going to be travelling in the U.K., Ireland or Australia, DON'T mention the words "Fanny Pack"!

Happy travels!

Posted by
45 posts

My husband and I are likely going to each get either the Veloce Guide Bag or Shoulder Bag from the Rick Steves shop. They won't scream "tourist," but still, I'm sure we'll be easy to spot!

I like the shoulder/messenger bag style because when you are in a crowded place, you can turn it so the bag part is on your front, and you can guard the bag with one arm/hand while the other arm/hand is free to keep far the people who are trying to get close to you for thieving reasons. Sad to say I'm not exaggerating, esp in Italy and Spain.

Good luck.

Posted by
676 posts

Dennis, as stated above, fanny packs are worn by tourists only, and more people use backpacks now,not just tourists. Men are wearing capri pants, you may think they're funny looking, but you'll blend right in! If you're young enough (early 20s), you may get away with the white tennies.

Posted by
1449 posts

I would recommend Ricks Civitas day pack. Folds up to nothing when packed in your luggage, sturdy enough for weeks of travel.

Posted by
10403 posts

My husband has been using his Rick Steves Civita day bag for years over many trips both in the U.S. and Europe. As Mike states, it folds up to nothing and is very lightweight. It holds a lot of stuff too!

Posted by
2349 posts

Dennis, I know what you're thinking. No way are you gonna carry a man purse. It really is different over there-no one will question your manhood or ask to borrow lipsick. It's like scarves-common on men there, rarer here. Push your comfort level a little.

Posted by
89 posts

My husband wears the money belt and I carry a brown leather messenger bag, medium size with lots of nice zipper compartments. It's big enough for a our Rick Steves travel guide, camera, Italian language dictionary, identification, and other stuff that keeps us comfortable (chap stick, gum, kleenex, etc.). Before we head out, we count out enough Euros for the day and then split that up between us. We started out thinking we'd need to carry water bottles, too, but it is so not necessary! And it really complicates packing for the day. Have fun!

Posted by
277 posts

I agree with the above posts regarding Rick's civitas day pack. I have traveled throughout Europe on several occasions and have always utilized the day pack. I have family in Italy. I never had a problem looking like a "tourist" However, I would forget about the white tennis shoes.

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks to all of you. Your comments have been helpful.

Posted by
345 posts

Two cents: I love my Civita bag as a carry-on for US travel. I think it is too heavy to carry around town all day though. Stick with a lighter messenger bag.

Posted by
1170 posts

Take a look at PacSafe products. They are built with security features to prevent bag slashing and theft. I use their MetroSafe 200 bag.

As an alternative, SCOTTEVEST makes travel vests and clothing with a multitude of pockets to stash necessary items. It's beats carrying a bag or fanny pack, and their products can help you get through airport security faster. Their stuff is very cool.

I agree with the other posters. Tourists always stand out like a sore thumb. You can't avoid it. Just go with the flow and try not to be the "tacky tourist" or the "ugly American". I've seen a few of those in Europe.