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How to carry around belongings, like a camera..

I'm studying abroad in Rome for three months and I dont want to risk getting mugged, so I dont plan on carrying a purse. I want to know how to carry around my bigger stuff like a camera without it getting stolen.. I've got a money belt but I don't know what to do about the camera! Thanks :)

Posted by
7737 posts

The most common method that Italians use to carry things is a messenger bag, with the strap on the opposite shoulder from the side that you're carrying the bag. That way it can't be snatched from you by two guys on a Vespa. But seriously, this is not that big a problem in Rome. Just use your common sense to be aware of situations that look a little funny. (And you should be doing the same thing here in the US as well.)

Posted by
12154 posts

I don't carry a big camera. I have a pocket size digital. I replaced the wrist strap with a neck strap and keep it inside my shirt or jacket when I'm not taking pictures.

The messenger bag is a good idea. In addition to the strap over your neck, keep the flap toward your body so it's not easy to reach into without you knowing. Buy one locally, you will feel more like a local and have a nice souvenir when you get home.

Actual mugging is really rare. Petty theft and groping are all too common.

Posted by
261 posts

I have a big 35mm camera (OK dinosaur). I purchased 2 neoprene camera straps and put them on the 2 clips on the camera. When I have the camera on, I cris-cross the straps across my back. This does 2 things, it puts the load of the camera on my back not my neck, and it makes the camera mugger proof! When I'm not taking pictues, I use a backpack to carry my gear and film.

Posted by
30 posts


When we went to Rome we looked like the extreme typical American tourist. Tennis shoes, sox etc... and my camera around my neck. We did have money belts and carried the extra stuff in a smaller camera bag (lens,film). We never had any trouble with pick pockets or anyone attempting to take our camera. We didn't leave it alone, but I wasn't fretting about my safety or my stuff. Just enjoy, I would love to stay for 3 months but I'll have to be happy with 2 weeks.

Posted by
82 posts

Pacsafe makes a great camera strap. Not sure what kind of camera you have. I have a dslr, and I bought a Pacsafe strap for it - its slash proof and much more comfy than the strap that came with the camera. The pacsafe strap can be adjusted so that you can actually wear it across the chest like the messenger bags. Pacsafe also has messenger bags, backpacks, totes and purses - all slash proof. You can find the stuff on amazon, zappos (free shipping) etc.

Posted by
15 posts

I have a small Canon digital camera, and I have a case for it that can slip onto a belt.
That way I carry it in front of me and I'm hands free.

Posted by
416 posts

However you decide to carry it, you need to take the most care in crowds (such as on a crowded bus). Dumb me had my camera picked out of my backpack (Pacsafe, with the zippers clipped) because it was on my back during a crowded bus ride. If I'd had the pack on my front, that would not have happened. Luckily it was morning and I had downloaded all of my images the night before so my memory cards were both empty as was the camera's internal memory. The lucky thief got a digital P&S, a 1 gig card, a 2 gig card, 4 rechargeable AA batteries and a case with a strap to carry it all in.

Posted by
416 posts

Oh, and I almost forgot to add, that this was my 6th trip to Europe and the first time I ever had anything stolen. I was telling our hotel concierge (in Italy) about it and he asked if I had been to Italy before. When I said no, he said, "Welcome to Italy." I never even had anything taken when I was on the mall at the Eiffel Tower at midnight one New Years Eve (though a girl near me had her cell phone snatched from her hand in mid-conversation).

Posted by
160 posts

Each I have gone I have carried a lightweight tote bag with a zipper. It's big enough to carry items you may purchase and the shoulders strap is long enough for you to hold on to. I'v been there several times and have had no problem.

Posted by
2207 posts

I currently live in Rome and would agree with the messenger bag approach. That's what I use.

You are most suspectible here when the crowds get large & stagnant, primarily at bus stops, tourist sites, and the metro. I carry my camera, GPS, books, etc. in my msgr bag. It has a zipper top and fold over- BUCKLE clasp. Don't get the "flop-over velco" style as those are easy to get into. When I get into "traffic" I make sure the clasp is turned in towards my body. For my credit cards and ID I wear a money belt but this is a cash society so I almost never use these.

You'll also need a coin purse as everything under 5 euros is a coin and if you're staying in non-tourist locations Italians hate to give change!

Pickpockets are adept here. Last week an Italian lady was wailing, surrounded by her familia & 2 policia, as she explained how someone had JUST picked her purse on the UP escalator at Termini so it's not just tourists who get targeted!

By being prepared, I've had NO ISSUES!

Posted by
15282 posts

Ditto on Pacsafe. Although we were never really bothered much on our last trip to Italy, it was comforting to have when in large crowds.

Posted by
16 posts

I keep $$ in the money belt and then carry a shoulder bag/messenger bag cross-wise over the shoulder. In that you can carry camera, maps, umbrella, water, and extra jacket etc. Most everyone will carry some sort of day-pack or shoulder bag--travelers as well as the locals. Always put it under your feet at cafes etc. and not just slung over the chair.
Buona Fortuna!!

Posted by
3 posts

I carried a $5000 large SLR with multiple lenses through Italy for 2.5 months. I went to the local camera store and asked for the ugliest bag they had, they pointed me to a $3 twenty year old nasty brown leather bag. I took it hoping the theives equated ugly with cheap. I put a piece of cardboard on the bottom of it with duct tape (so theives couldn't cut it). The only problem I encountered was that I did not take my camera out enough (I took 972 photos) because of the paranoia from all the guide books saying there are teams of muggers on every corner (not true).

If you have an expensive camera, then my suggestion is to get insurance so that you can worry less and enjoy more. The insurance is called an "inland marine policy" and you can add it to your homeoweners or renters policy.

Just be aware of your surroundings and you won't have a problem.


Posted by
1158 posts

I always carry a backpack, but never on my back in crowded places.I got one that has big and though zippers, by Sierra. I also have a small lock, but I only use it in the subway or buses.
Sometimes i carried my small digital camera on my belt. I have one of those bags that hook up on the belt with a snap. It seems to be pretty though.
It is true that thieves act in groups, but they are not in every corner as many guide books say.

Posted by
13 posts

Hey Chelsea:
I'm opting for a super light-weight backpack (read packable) for my trip to Italy. I too don't want to carry a purse (hello you have to hold it). I'm taking a backpack instead of luggage and don't want to carry 2 packs. Check out this link for a ripstop daypack. Colors are fun (yeah they are touristy) and the price is cheap!

Posted by
129 posts

My wife, brother and I will be in Italy this summer. We're all serious photography nuts so we'll have a good amount of equipment with us. Digital SLRs, lenses, video cameras.

We're using Lowepro's Slingshot camera bags. These fit across your shoulders cross-ways and can be slid around from back to front when you want to get something out of the bag or you want it in front of you for safer keeping.

These come in three sizes - Slingshot 100, 200 and 300.

From the standpoints of security, convenience and distribution of weight while walking, these appear to be the best choice for us.

Here's a link to the smallest Slingshot at B&H Photo -

Posted by
466 posts

Have you ever been to a big city before??? It's just common sence that will keep your belongings safe. Keep your camera in a pocket. Why not carry a purse? It's not like every person in Italy is a crook!!! Common sence will take you a long way!!!

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks everyone for the helpful remarks!

Especially you, Mark, your intelligent comments are really going to make my trip better. ("Sense" is spelled wtih an 's', by the way. And I have been to a big city, I live in Seattle.)

I just purchased a Pacsafe bag but thanks for all of your help anyway! :)