anti-theft purse necessary?

I'm wondering if I really need to purchase a Pacsafe purse (slashproof shoulder strap) for Italy. I will be carrying an inexpensive camera, passports, etc. I currently own a small leather bag with a shoulder strap that goes across my body. It is small enough to wear under a jacket, but not under a shirt. Do I really need to worry about someone with a razor blade cutting my purse strap even if I'm aware and holding onto my purse in a crowd?

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12567 posts

IMO, it is over kill. I have never known anyone to have had something cut off. But everyone has heard that it happened to a friend of a friend of a friend of an uncle. The probability is very low. However, do you really need a purse? My wife has not carried one for years but it was a slow transition to purse-less.

Posted by Cindy
Ely, MN, USA
257 posts

I don't need or want a regular purse, just a small shoulder bag that can fit a small camera, passports, a little cash, etc. A shoulder strap means my hands are free, although I would hang on to it in crowds. We'll be in Rome for a week and then mostly small towns.

Posted by Julie
SF Bay Area, CA, USA
446 posts

Cindy - Sometimes I travel with a small Pacsafe CitySafe bag and sometimes with a cross body leather bag. For me, it's not really the security features (although it is nice to have them), rather the organizational features and the fact that the bag is really lightweight. It's not the most stylish bag, but I can get my coinpurse, camera, guidebook and other small items into it without it being heavy.

I do use the interior rings to clip my wallet and camera to the bag. That's more for me as I have a habit of sometimes putting things down and leaving them...

Do consider using a moneybelt for your passport and not rely on a security bag for it. There are pickpockets, but being aware of your surroundings and holding on to your bag will probably be better than any security features on a bag.

Posted by Frank II
4587 posts

If you plan on carrying your passports and money in your shoulder bag and not in a moneybelt, I suggest you keep the following items in your luggage and separate from your shoulder bag: a photocopy of the information page of all your passports, the address and phone number of the American consulate, a set of passport photos, the phone numbers of your credit card companies and your banks.

Having the bag cut off is possible but highly improbable. Being pickpocketed is much more likely. And if you don't carry your passports and majority of your money in some type of moneybelt underneath your clothes, you risk having to spend a day replacing everything.

Having the items I mention in the first paragraph handy will save you a few hours trying to replace everything.

Have I seen bags cut off...yes. Not a friend of a friend, I've seen it. Have I seen people getting pickpocketed, especially those who thought their stuff was safe...yes. Do I wear a moneybelt...yes...I never leave town without it.

Posted by Susan
Atlanta, Ga, USA
1532 posts

I don't know about a pacsafe bag but I bought a black bag from LL Bean that fits over the shoulder and across the chest that I'm happy with. I can't see sightseeing for a day without a purse. No credit cards, passport,ATM card, large amount of $$, etc ever go into this bag--my neckpouch or husband's money belt are the secure places for those important things. My bag/purse has a mesh pocket on the side for water bottle and inside I carry handwash, tissues, handcream, lip balm, sunscreen, map, toilet seat covers, a change purse and a small amount of euros/bps. Also a must for me is a toothbrush & small tube of tpaste because I wear braces & must brush after eating. It would be a challenge to not have the bag.

Posted by Chris
Puyallup, WA, USA
881 posts

The "slashproof" shoulder strap companies always fail to mention how d*mned much it hurts when someone grabs your unbreakable strap and pulls on your neck for all it's worth...

In Rome, I'd recommend something under your clothing for documents etc, and your over the shoulder bag should be fine for other things as long as you can secure the zippers.

Last trip to Rome, they tried to get into my shoulder bag twice, but just having all the zippers secured seemed to be enough of a deterrent.

Posted by Ron
Carbondale, IL, USA
1201 posts

I hope that we can encourage to keep your passports not in your purse or bag, no matter what kind it is. You really to need to keep them secure under your clothing. You are not likely to need to access them while you are out and about. There are several styles and at least one of them should work for you.

As we have said in other threads, are you likely to be victimized? Probably not. But the hassle of having to replace stuff especially passports where you may have to travel tot a consulate office is not worth the risk.

Consider wearing some form of moneybelt like having fire insurance on your house. Most people don't personally know someone who had a fire and the odds are that it won't happen.

Most people that post on this and any travel forum fall intyo two groups. There are those that are going to wear a belt and are looking for tips or styles that work for other people. then there are those that really, really don't want to and are looking for an excuse not to.

The anti-theft bags are nice. they are well thought out and have great systems. But they are still something that is not attached to you at all times. They may lull you into a false sense of security and you'll get lax in keeping an eye on them.

In addition, since it's your everyday purse, you'll have to get into it frequently when you purchase things.

Posted by Jean
Bobcaygeon, Ontario, Canada
66 posts

My husband wears a money belt with our cash & passports; I hate carrying a purse even at home. I have a small backpack purse which I carry my camera, GPS, water bottle etc. When in a crowd I wear it in the front, this keeps my hands free when touring and shopping.

Posted by Sheron
Alta Loma, CA, USA
1225 posts

Hi Cindy. I agree that a Pacsafe purse is really not necessary...but in my opinion, a money belt is necessary!! As long as you keep your credit cards, passport & larger amounts of cash in your money belt, then it's not as critical that you carry a Pacsafe purse. I know some people don't like wearing money belts but there are all different types & I wear the type that goes over one shoulder & under my arm; I find it more comfortable than the kind around the waist. Have a wonderful trip.

Posted by Sally
In the Mountains, USA
689 posts

Cindy, I had a Pacsafe purse that I loved. The pockets and zippers made organizing very easy. BUT... It wore out quickly, and it was HEAVY empty! I'll not put out the expense again.

Posted by Wesley
Kaiser, MO
6 posts

I bought a Pacsafe purse for my wife for our trip to Rome in April.
It wasn't too expensive, only around $60. It is lightwieght and the feature I like the most is the fact that the strap can be unhooked and then hooked onto a chair or table. I like this because if we are sitting at a cafe, she can then anchor the purse; if someone were to come along and try and take it, they would be dragging the chair or table with them. I would hope that this make the theif drop the purse and take off. She is also going to wear a document pouch around her neck to hold her passport and money in. It goes under your clothes and is similiar to a money belt.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6014 posts

"I like this because if we are sitting at a cafe, she can then anchor the purse; if someone were to come along and try and take it, they would be dragging the chair or table with them."

I would never take off a purse and anchor it. I wear a wee little shoulder bag, about 5 x 5 inches, across my body. It holds one credit card and the day's cash, as well as our passports (behind 2 zippers locked together). I never take this off when we are out and about, not even when sitting down at a restaurant. It is nearly weightless and I don't notice it at all.

Camera, water bottle, maps, etc. (things that wouldn't be a huge hassle to lose) go in a separate, larger shoulder bag.

Posted by marybeth
salt lake city, utah, USA
1 posts

hi cindy, i personally think a regular purse that is "messenger style," (with a shoulder strap going over one shoulder and the body of the purse resting against the front of your body), looks more normal and less touristy. It is also secure because you are always aware of where it is, plus your hands are free for taking pictures and shopping.

That being said, I always put my passport, a spare credit card, some Euros and some US dollars, in an ankle or wrist wallet and I NEVER take it off except to shower and sleep. I never ever keep my passport in my purse. I cannot recommend this strongly enough. I personally find the waist wallets to be hot and bothersome and chunky around my waist, whereas the ankle wallet (esp. in winter when I can put it on under a sock or between my sock and my boot) I can totally forget about all day long.

For my other credit cards and Euros, I use my wrist wallet ( Nobody is going to know what it is, let alone try to steal if off my wrist. That way, the only things in my purse are my water bottle, guide book, spare batteries, a snack, maps, small umbrella, and stuff like that. Stuff you need during the day, but not stuff that would ruin your trip if you had it stolen.

I hope this helps! But please whatever you do, don't keep your passport in your purse, and I recommend making 2 sets of color photocopies of your passport. Keep one set in your luggage and give one set to a family member or friend back home in case...

Posted by Nelly
220 posts

I bought a Pacsafe bag online. It was pug ugly, heavy and very limited capacity for the size- narrow opening and very deep but not wide enough. I returned it and will go with a lightweight cross-body bag. And a money belt.

Posted by Frank II
4587 posts

To show how important moneybelts are, Pacsafe has not only come out with new bags for 2010 but also new moneybelts.

The newest is a "hidden pocket" type that hangs from the wearers belt and is kept inside the pant leg. The "loops," where the belt goes through, have the Pacsafe steel cable and can't be cut. But...that's also where Pacsafe decided to put its logo thus drawing attention to the moneybelt.


See for yourself: Coversafe 150

Posted by steve
gaston, oregon, usa
842 posts

Thanks Frank! I get tired of my neck wallet, and hate money belts, this looks like a great option!

Cindy, please do not keep important travel documents/ credit cards in a purse...of any type. The money belt idea is so much safer.

My wife carries the camera, water etc. in a back pak that we watch closely, but important items are relegated to money belts, neck purses.

I usually walk behind her. One time I watched a guy saunter up behind her, and reach toward the back pak. Just as he was about to attempt to pilfer her stuff he turned around and saw me approaching, and ran off like a scared rabbit.

Posted by wayne
LaVerne, Ca, usa
37 posts

Frank, I just bought the coversafe via your link. Thanks. If you buy it & prepare for the worst, chances are u won't need it. My son, much more travel savy than I, pointed out thefts in progress in Paris, while often shielding his mom in potentially bad situations. He was often correct. My son testing me early one morning while shopping, actually tried to see if I would be aware if he could unzip my backpack. I learned well from him whereas my backpack zippers were both down to the extreme side, hence when trying to open by pulling the zippers up, weight is lifted & you are more likely aware. The most brazen though is slicing the bottom of a pack or purse.

Posted by Dede
Oakland, CA, US
1 posts

This may sound silly but last summer while in Rome I carried an over the shoulder purse with only a few things in it that I wouldn't care too much about if stolen. I split whatever money and credit cards I was carrying into pockets of my shorts or pants and then safety pinned them closed. It kept out any pick pockets (didn't see any), and prevented me from impulse buys!

Posted by Cheryl
Connecticut, USA
106 posts

I keep my important items and cash inside velcro-sealed pockets on the inside of my button up travel vest. Outside vest pockets hold tissues, snack bars, and the like. Camera is on a strap around my neck, but camera itself slides into an inner vest pocket. Over this I wear a light button up blazer type jacket and scarf, or my warmer lined, zip up raincoat. In 6 trips to Italy and France, I have never had a purse hanging off me, and have not missed it, either.

Posted by Scott M.
Dallas, TX, USA
1166 posts

You should keep any important documents, money, credit cards, etc. in a money belt or neck wallet. If they want the purse or it's contents, they will find a way to get it.

Posted by Angie
Honolulu, Hawaii, usa
2 posts

Not necessary to buy. Awareness of your surroundings is more essential. We GOT MUGGED in Rome by 2 children standing astride a sidewalk. As my husband walked by they simultaneously picked his pockets & grabbed his big beautiful camera bag too. We avoided theft luckily because we weren't walking together. I was way behind him and luckily chased them off by yelling. I have a cheap cross body bag and they weren't interested in me.

Posted by kellipaul
olympia, washington, usa
41 posts

Don't carry a purse. If you do I would watch out for people on Vespas grabbing your shoulder bag. Vespa drivers do not always stay on the street...they drive up on the sidewalk. I nearly got hit by one in Rome walking to the train station.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8668 posts

You can carry a purse,, the vespa grabbers do not go for the ones worn cross body,,but for the ones dangling off one shoulder.

PacSav bags are too heavy for me,, I seen them in travel stores and wonder why anyone would buy them.

Carry excess money, passport and cc in a money belt worn under clothing, careful about ankle ones though, in metros they have been known to be gone into , since often they can be seen when you sit down .

I leave all that stuff in my hotel safe,, never ever had a problem ,, and don't have to fuss about wearing the moneybelt,, I do however wear the belt when travelling.

My purse is fab.,, large, lightweight, very strong canvas weave, wide comfy strap that adjusts long enough to wear messanger style over neck and cross body. Top has a zipper, with a large flap covering it,, that is snapped shut with a snap device that requires you to squeeze from two sides. Love it .Inside there are more zippered compartments where I keep money etc.

It took a while to find the perfect purse, but I have used it now for about 5 years,,, in Paris , London, Rome, Venice and LA,, LOL and its great. It has outside pocket for sunglasses and water, so no need to open purse up ,, and a outside pocket that a map fits in..

Cost, 35 dollars, value, priceless.