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Pacsafe Crossbody Bag

We have a mid-size Pacsafe crossbody bag and are wondering if these are secure enough to forego using a travel pouch/waistbelt.

Thanks for your input.

Posted by
897 posts

I wear a PacSafe crossbody bag and it is wonderful. However, I have a money belt into which I place my passport, my credit cards, and larger amounts of cash. I would not trust ANY bag to be thiefproof for major amounts of cash and the money belt is so easy to keep track of.

Posted by
2382 posts

Nothing is thief proof. The biggest risk however is user error - leaving it unzipped, setting it down and looking away, that kind of thing.

I don’t use a money belt often and my bag is normal, not a special safety one. I just safety pin an inner pocket closed for most of my cash and card, and leave a separate card and extra cash in the hotel room.

So it’s risk assessment on your part. I personally would say that if you are confident in your ability to be mindful of your bag and aware of your surroundings then a waist belt is not necessary. Really, all that I find necessary is a bag you can keep in front of you (NOT a backpack), that zips closed and has inside zipper pockets.
Obviously opinions vary and pickpocketing can still happen. Personal risk tolerance is important to consider

Posted by
886 posts

As a woman who travels by myself, I don't like to have all my important items in one spot, especially a daybag/purse. I feel safer in all circumstances when I have my passport, large bills, and extra credit card in a moneybelt under my clothing. I also never use a hotel safe, because I would be the person who forgot to retrieve items when checking out.

Posted by
3150 posts

We have a mid-size Pacsafe crossbody bag and are wondering if these
are secure enough to forego using a travel pouch/waistbelt.

No.

Lowlife scum who want to rob you will find a way of distracting you so they can grab whatever they want from your crossbody no matter the brand name of that crossbody bag.

Put your major money, passport and credit cards in a moneybelt for safer keeping and do not reach into that money belt in public; you will have defeated the purpose of wearing the moneybelt by doing that.

Two attempts were made to rob me in both the Paris métro and the U-Bahn in Vienna as I wore a crossbody bag.

Posted by
2661 posts

As Mira said, it's all about risk tolerance. IMO NO bag is invulnerable to pickpockets. It only takes one instance of carelessness or inattention. I keep all of my valuable docs, CCs, extra cash, in a neck pouch if not in the hotel safe. The purse only has 1 CC and my daily cash in an inside zippered pocket of my regular crossbody bag (which, by the way, I never take off in public - not even in restaurants).

Posted by
5457 posts

As they say, "know thyself" -- and I know that I could be distracted and not notice a clever pickpocket unzipping my purse -- but not someone unzipping my pants to get to my money belt! So for me, the money belt goes on before I leave the hotel/apartment.
One less thing to worry about.

Posted by
1072 posts

My limited experience with Travelon crossbody bag (same security features as Pacsafe):

No it’s not safe enough to forego moneybelt or neck wallet. You want money, cards hidden and not easily accessible.

It is way too heavy for toting around everyday. My neck and shoulders hurt quickly when I had it loaded for a day’s sightseeing. This was a mid-size purse not my large travel tote.

My bag is hanging in the closet to some day go to Goodwill or given to some unexpecting victim of the travel disease.

Edit: I plan to use a neck wallet, a small cross body bag and add a packable backpack if I need carry more during the day.

Posted by
31 posts

I agree with wbfey1. I also have a Pacsafe cross body bag that I use, but along with a money belt. I keep large amounts of cash and my credit/debit cards in my money belt, with smaller amounts of cash for food, drinks, etc. in my bag. I wouldn't feel safe keeping all of my money and cards in the bag.

Posted by
7900 posts

"My bag is hanging in the closet to some day go to Goodwill or given to some unexpecting victim of the travel disease."

Horsewoofie!! I burst out laughing at that. I can see you luring your victim into your closet...Now this is a very secure purse.....

I'm glad you are adding a money belt. I was picked last year in Paris and no joke, I NEVER even felt anyone near me! I did not have a Pacsafe but I don't think it would have mattered much. They only got my small purse toiletries kit, no money, no cards. Lesson learned.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/oops-sort-of-pick-pocketed-on-paris-metro-yesterday

Posted by
5374 posts

Phrank, what exactly are you referring to as a "travel pouch/waistbelt"? You mean one of those things aka a fanny pack, that you wear on top your clothes? Thats something very different from a money belt worn under your clothes, which is what people here are referring to.

Posted by
106 posts

No, no. One worn under the clothes. To each their own, but I would definitely be traveling alone if I chose to wear a fanny pack.

Posted by
1868 posts

I have a Pacsafe crossbody bag but as others have said, it's really heavy from all the metal they use-too heavy for me to be comfortable carrying it around all day. So I don't. I wear a money belt under my clothing that holds the 'important stuff' and wear a small crossbody ebags purse that comfortably holds a few pounds or euros, my sunglasses (or regular glasses), lip balm, eyedrops, small comb and has a zippered inside compartment that just holds my iPhone and a few ripped out guidebook pages for the day. Also, if I have one, my metro or tube pass.

Posted by
2599 posts

I rarely use a money belt. I usually only use one in transit on a train or plane, if alone, so everything important travels to the toilet with me. Otherwise, I do keep my items separated so I can't lose them all at once. I just leave my unneeded backup financial items in my suitcase in my hotel. I do use a tiny travelon purse...I think they call it a phone purse. I do like the safety features as it would dissuade or at least slow someone down. Because I keep items separated, I don't worry as much about losing everything. I've never felt anyone close enough to be getting items from my purse, although I knew my step daughter would have a problem when we were leaving Rome Termini station, because of her manner and I was right, purse in one hand and waving an RS Italy book in the other, clothes on her back, the little old ladies pounced on her before we'd reached the other side of the street, seriously. But I'd already nagged her about wearing her money belt so she was fine and all they got was her address book (think 2000). And she was 30 so I wasn't going to nag her the entire trip. My point is: situational awareness. If you live in a city, you don't need it if you've developed any common sense. If you come from the suburbs, then you might want to think about using one. I always carry my passport. So it is all about what you are used to and what makes you feel comfortable. There's really no right way.

Posted by
782 posts

I've posted this suggestion several times, but I feel it's worth the consideration again.

I do not carry a purse, as the weight made my shoulders sore. I wear either a Scottevest of Exofficio vest/jacket, [many styles and weights available , including a featherlike summer vest option,] with several inside zipper pockets.
These inside pockets carry my wallet , one credit card, money just for that day, glasses, and phone.
Of course, my passport, extra credit cards, & most of my money are in another holster close to my body under my clothes.
I like having my hands free. I carry a day-pack for snack, drinks, guide books- items can can make a purse heavy.
I've done several trip in this manner, and will never go back to a purse for international travel.

Remember, even Rick Steves was a victim of a pickpocket last year!

Posted by
1214 posts

Always, always an under-clothing money belt for bank cards and passport and extra cash.
My very small crossbody bag has only enough cash in it for that day; plus lip gloss, tissues, map, etc.
Remember to always go into a rest room or store changing room to access the money belt, out of sight of other people.
If you have the money belt pouch part sitting so it is at your back, it fits nicely into the curve of your back, rather than being an annoying bulge at your front.
Also, put your money and cards in a ziplock bag inside the belt so they don't get all sweaty.
And watch it doesn't undo or slide off you when you go to the bathroom!!

Posted by
5457 posts

And to add to S Jackson's excellent advice, put your passport in a Ziploc as well. FYI, snack size is perfect for euros but sandwich size for passport.

Posted by
132 posts

We all (4 in the family) traveled with a Pacsafe type bag for our trips, including our last one to Italy.
No money belts for us.

Posted by
11852 posts

'Fraid we're in knhellesky's camp too: neither of us can tolerate moneybelts. We've traveled successfully with a unisex Pacsafe bag since 2007 without issue but we also split some of our valuables up and leave some in the room safe when sightseeing a city. I pin a small zippered pouch underneath my waistband just big enough for my daily cash and a card: invisible, comfortable and inaccessible to fingers other than my own without my knowledge. My husband usually carries the Pacsafe, and I carry a shoulder bag with my camera and random stuff for the day.

Yes, you do have to be diligent about locking the zipper on the compartment(s) holding the goodies, and just like a purse, never hang it from a chair or place it at your feet. Works for us.

Posted by
605 posts

Tried various money belts and money bags and just hated them all. I love my small and my medium-sized pacsafes and am quite diligent about the zippers, etc. I trust the wide strap worn crossbody and the locks more than I trust safety pins and little buckles and little straps and thin cords. Somehow being able to see and hold my purse reassures me more than hidden pouches.

But it all kind of depends on what you're like and how and when you travel. I don't carry much stuff in regular life or when traveling and we rent apartments for at least 4 days and up to 5 weeks, so we can leave most things like passports and large amounts of money back in the apartment. We don't shop except for groceries and ceramics. And we mostly travel in the off season and avoid crowds just because we don't like being in them. We have never been swarmed or scammed or even approached in a way we couldn't easily deal with. I guess it could happen on the next trip, but so far, so good. I feel much more nervous about theft in American cities than anywhere in Italy.

Posted by
18 posts

Just a side note on the pacsafe, I bought one as well which I am planning to use to hold my RS guidebook, water bottle, snacks, phones, tickets, power bank etc.. I noticed the strap has a wire and that would be uncomfortable with a lot of stuff in there. So i purchased a cushion to go on the strap as well, I highly recommend it! Ill be keeping passports/cash/cards in hidden wallets just in case as well.

Posted by
100 posts

+1 for PacSafe. I tried money belts but found them to be awkward; plus, they don't work well when one is wearing a dress. I always lock the zipper and keep my hand on it, especially on mass transit.

Posted by
1214 posts

Forgot to say that I have a small carabiner clip to close the zip of any purse or crossbody bag I am wearing as I travel.
Just one more level of "security".

Posted by
173 posts

I guess I’m going to be the weird one and say I’ve done just fine with a pac safe bag. Yes, no bag is totally invulnerable but I don’t carry everything with me in it that is important. Just what I anticipate needing for the day. A thief would have to work really hard to unclip the caribiner, which is on the inside towards my body, hidden beneath cloth, and then unclip the travel pac safe wallet that is actually clipped to the bottom of my bag, especially with trying to get through the other crap I keep in there. The bag itself is never ever off my body and never hung over one shoulder, a mistake I’ve definitely seen people make. It’s really just about being cautious and vigilant. Thieves go for the easy targets. Your hand should always be in your bag in a subway or bus, ect.

I personally hate money belts. They are hot and uncomfortable and I have sensitive skin, which often doesn’t do well with something like that. To each their own.

Posted by
148 posts

Hi,

Forgive me if I am repeating but I used a pacsafe mini backpack and a travelon purse and alternated. I also used a money belt under my clothes while I was travelling on the trains. I was glad I did as it is very difficult to keep an eye on your bags, an eye on the train schedule and maneuver through crowds. I felt safer knowing my passport and the bulk of my money was hidden. I also used (for the first time) a little pouch from pacsafe to attach to undergraments. Fantastic! I kept an extra card and my id there. I plan to write another post for solo travellers, but I would say this was one purchase that I absolutely recommend!

As a caveat, I felt safe in Italy. Be aware though saw some nasty pickpocketers doing their stuff!

Posted by
2562 posts

I like the size of the Travelon and use it as my personal item and attach my jackets to it. I know you can be pickpocketed anywhere, but I think in the future I will use my moneybelt only in the most locations with the highest prevalence of pickpockets-especially public transportation.

Posted by
29 posts

I actually use my PacSafe crossbody bag for everyday use. I would never depend on just that for security while traveling though. I usually wear a neck moneybelt too which I hate because I think the strap is too noticeable, so I'm looking for something else. . I also have a 15 pocket vest which I use depending on the weather.

Posted by
364 posts

there's a Youtube channel Active Self Protection. Each day he (John) shows a video of thefts or shootings, etc, and talks about maintaining situational awareness. The point being -> a thief with a knife or gun will ask you for something they KNOW (or believe) you have. They will see your bag and take it. They may never know or think about a money belt and may leave it with you.

Posted by
11852 posts

Violent tourist crime is rare in Italy. We also only have ALL of our valuables on us when changing locations, and we split them up. I'm more concerned about being confronted with a weapon some places here in the States than I am there.

Posted by
364 posts

Yes, armed robbery is probably rare. Still "if they don't see it, they will probably leave it alone" is accurate.
A sister-in-law was in a tour group, had the entire group facing her for a group photo, she put a bag down so she could take the photo and her bag was gone when she leaned down to get it.
NOT armed robbery. Just one of many possible illustrations of why a day-bag is just for carrying around big/lumpy stuff you that doesn't fit in a secure pocket.

Posted by
11852 posts

...she put a bag down so she could take the photo...

But that was her mistake. If there's something of value in it, it stays ON you. As Laura said earlier, "The bag itself is never ever off my body and never hung over one shoulder, a mistake I’ve definitely seen people make."

But in the end, it comes down to whatever one is most comfortable with just as long as some form of protection is employed.

Posted by
106 posts

Since this post has been revived I thought I'd weigh in on our experience.

We used the Pacsafe nearly every day in conjunction with a hidden wallet attached to my belt. The wallet held our passports, debit card and extra cash. My wife had a wristlet with a debit card and some cash in it. The Pacsafe had an inside compartment whose zipper was secured with a clip. The compartment also had a clip which was attached to the wristlet. Not as cumbersome as it may sound. The pack was always worn cross body. We found it very handy and never felt vulnerable, even amongst the throngs in Florence. Also, we were allowed to carry it in places where backpacks were prohibited.

Hope this helps someone.

Posted by
738 posts

I've lived and traveled in Europe and the Mid-East for decades and rarely carry a bag. Sometimes for business I'd carry a briefcase, but usually the only thing in my hands was a camera. I've never had a pocket picked. I've never been robbed. I've had a couple of what might have been attempts, but nothing came of them. If I carry a package it's something I picked up locally and I've got in a shopping bag. My experience is if you look like you're worth robbing there's a chance you will be. If you make it easy for someone to see where you have your stuff then that's a target. If you travel by car leave your stuff in the car. If on a tour bus, leave it on the bus. Use the lockers in the train station. I hate hauling stuff around.

Posted by
2599 posts

As this has resurfaced, addendum to my first post: In recent domestic travels, I've moved on to infinity scarves that I make with a secret pocket or two. I have my back up items in this scarf during transport. I usually wear scarves anyway. There's no way an infinity scarf will fall or be pulled off of me, unless I'm in a lot deeper trouble than losing my things. I like this system as during security, I can't be wearing the items anyway and in the hotel I leave my back up information in the suitcase. Someone rifling through my suitcase is not likely to be looking thru my scarves for money, etc.

So there are many ways to protect oneself, and they might change trip to trip. There is no right way. Just know your system and your weaknesses, and adjust accordingly. I like my pacsafe and travelon purses, but have used them for years on subways domestically as every day purses. I don't find them heavy. I have been known to use them alone in Europe as well. If there was one way to do it, I wouldn't get to buy or make more travel gear...

Posted by
1532 posts

there's a Youtube channel Active Self Protection

Maybe there should be a You Tube channel, "Understanding statistical risk in an age of anxiety and paranoia." But then no one would watch it because it would be hundreds of millions of hours of video interspersed with the occasional short video of a non-violent crime.

Posted by
5457 posts

@diveloonie, your local charity shop will be delighted to take a donation of a Pacsafe -- they sell quickly to people planning trips and the proceeds go to a good cause. (Just don't ask how many travel purses and suitcases I have from the cancer and hospital shops.)

Posted by
7737 posts

Diveloonie, if you identify which bag you bought, you might get a nibble. With a link to a photo would be even better.