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purse, backpack or something else

We are very aware of all of the warning about pickpockets and thiefs so wondering what type of bag I should bring as we are out and about everyday. I need glasses, medicine, sunscreen, and paper copies of tickets,

I also have zippered front pockets on my shorts. I am thinking that I could keep my days spending money, 1 credit card and drivers license in this zippered pocket. is this too risky?

Posted by
2353 posts

I carry a purse - it has short straps so it does not hang low - my arm is over the top of it. I also keep it on the shoulder between my husband & me - spoiling any drive by grabs.

Posted by
365 posts

Hi Cindy.

I bring a cross body bag that is fairly small. In my 9 trips I have tried several types. I like ones that do not have a flap over the top zipper. On one trip I took a regular hand bag and another a leather letter carrier type I bought at Nordstrom rack. . I just make sure all zippers are closed and facing me. I always keep the bag in front of me and a hand on the top of the bag.

I was pick pocketed once on my first trip. We were in crowd waiting to board a train. My backpacks was opened and my wallet taken. This why I never carry a backpack unless I am flying on a plane..

Try several kinds and see what you are most comfortable with.

Posted by
11734 posts

I also have zippered front pockets on my shorts.

Personally? I wouldn't trust valuables to be safe in any exterior pocket or any backpack. I pin a small pouch to the inside of my waistband for daily cash and 1 card, Husband carries a Pacsafe bag for our passports and the rest of our valuables. Camera, guidebook, Advil, bandaids, etc. go in my moderate-sized shoulder bag.

Posted by
2511 posts

I often keep my ID case/wallet in the front pocket of my jeans. No issue, but I don't care if I lose 50 euros in general. Haven't yet. I'd be more cautious with my credit card, unless it is a hidden zipper pocket inside a front pocket.

I carry my daily money and credit card as I do at home. We have pickpockets here as well, I'm sure. On my most recent trip to Greece I carried a Bryant Pouch/baggallini: https://www.amazon.com/Baggallini-Bryant-Smartphone-Pouch-Black/dp/B00MRJ6498/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494343495&sr=8-1&keywords=baggallini+bryant+pouch This held my iPod, credit card, license, lactaid pills, and phone when in the US airport. It also holds the small ID case in which I keep my daily money, which is sometimes in it or sometimes in my pocket. I really don't worry about losing 50 euro, and never have. This is what I use every day at home. It is cross body and sits in front of me. If I enter an area that I feel uncomfortable in, I will place my hand on the bag as well. I attach it to me when I leave my hotel/home and it remains attached to me until I arrive back, otherwise I might forget it. I have a purse/camera bag that is also cross body when I need everything else...but that is as little as possible. I'm thinking of going to a backpack, and my Bryant pouch is not in it. I am actually thinking of a scottevest as they are starting to look slightly more stylish so then I might leave my Bryant pouch at home.

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Posted by
1804 posts

I'm wondering why you would be carrying your drivers license? You would only need that (along with your International Drivers Permit) on days when you are driving, and in that case I would have them both in a money belt or other secure location.

For convenience I do keep a very small amount of cash in a hidden zippered pocket in my shorts or shirt. The sunscreen, glasses, maps etc are in a very small cross-body bag.

Posted by
11613 posts

This trip, I am using my usual small messenger bag (cross-body), with one of those nearly-impossible to open metal key rings attached to the shoulder strap near the zipper. My neck wallet is attached to that, and the zippers on the wallet are zip-tied together when I am traveling or walking in crowds.

I guess if a thief has a lot of time, they could undo the ties, but I think/hope that probably they are more likely to pass.

Posted by
320 posts

I've always used a small purse with a long enough strap to fit cross body. Always use one that zippers totally closed. I've seen ladies with their large tote bags that have just one snap in the middle - not a good idea. In crowds or on public transport, keep your hand on the purse. I don't recommend back packs. Too easy for the zippers to partially open and for pickpockets to reach in. I was just in an American airport and saw at least three people with backpacks with the zippers partially open. Also, many museums won't let you in with back packs. I'm going to try the Rick Steves Civita shoulder bag for the first time later this year in Scotland.
You would probably be OK with the zippered front pockets. I wouldn't keep a credit card or ID there, though - maybe just enough cash for the day that you could afford to lose.

Posted by
17165 posts

The reason for carrying a driver's license is that it is normally an acceptable form of ID to leave on deposit when you borrow an audio guide at a sightseeing attraction.

Posted by
1804 posts

Now that I think of it, we have never carried ID (except for passports which I'd never leave behind) and we HAVE had some issues borrowing audioguides. But we have always found a workaround. I know we've given them hotel keys, and sometimes a refundable deposit. I had never thought of bringing a drivers license for that purpose. Interesting.

Posted by
81 posts

Last trip to Europe, I purchased a smart looking purse that goes across body from ebags. (http://www.ebags.com/). It has all sorts of security features but also offers plenty of room for my necessities (medicine, glasses, paper tickets, spending money, etc.) I'll be using the purse again on our trip to Italy this summer. My husband carries a money belt (the neck kind) where we keep our passports, an extra credit card for emergencies and any larger money bills. My kids also wear money belts (they are teens) for their spending money (though I just bought dd a purse from ebags for our upcoming trip.) So far so good! I do highly recommend taking a peek at what ebags has to offer. I'm sure you'll find something that fits your needs and keeps your valuables with you and safe!

Happy travels!

Posted by
956 posts

I used a pac safe bag like that in the link (never as a fanny pack though!). Reason being, I planned to bike in many places and didn't want a cross-body purse-type bag that would slide around and end up hanging in front of me. It was snug against my body, and easy to twist from back to front to unzip and get documents. Its also carried a surprising amount of stuff. I brought a lightweight rain jacket with me every day that could stuff down to the size of a fist, which fit in the bag when not being worn. I also have a camera the size of a wallet that fit. In crowds, I just twisted the bag to my front. Funny thing is, I liked how it worked so much, Ive been using it as my daily bag since (ditched my cross-body purse)

http://www.ebags.com/hproduct/pacsafe/venturesafe-150-gii-anti-theft-cross-body-pack/250552?productid=10233504&sourceid=ADWPRODBP&couponid=94790994&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Shopping+-+Backpacks+-+Branded&adcampaignid=603478719&adgroup=Backpacks&adgroupid=29138778138&addisttype=gpla&adid=112560551058&kw=&gclid=CMea97zw49MCFQyNaQodb2kOPw

Any of your pockets can be pickpocketed. Thieves are highly adept at their "craft." Only carry in your pockets things you don't mind losing. I would definitely keep my credit card and driver's license or passport under my clothes in either a money belt or neck pouch. A little spending money in your pocket is okay.
I use a small luggage lock on my backpack zipper. You can use a small 15 liter backpack or a purse to carry your things. Whatever is more comfortable for you. For your purse - consider using something on the zippers to prevent theft. (Stiff safety pin, luggage lock, 6" cable ring, small s biner clasp - anything to dissuade a thief.)

Posted by
411 posts

My husband and I also carry the Pacsafe Venturesafe 150. It's perfect. Some people say anti-theft bags are overkill. My husband had planned on carrying his wallet in his front pocket as he always does But I got him this bag and he really liked it. We were walking back on the train platform in Tuscany after having spent a really fun day in Cinque Terre when a man attempted to pickpocket my husband. His hand got a little stuck because what he tried to grab was actually my daughter's water bottle that she kept putting in my husband's pocket. It was a weird experience. It could have been a very bad ending to a truely wonderful day, but it wasn't.

http://www.pacsafe.com/venturesafe-150-gii-anti-theft-cross-body-pack/60160100.html

I got the really cute blue one. My husband has a wild orange one.

Posted by
490 posts

I suggest always taking double medication, leave some at the hotel/keep in luggage not day bag.

Pair down your wallet for travel, you don't need you supermarket card or anything other than credit debit cards, a driver's license and maybe some business cards.

Zippered pockets don't stop theives. Period. So if you don't want you vacation ruined...follow the guidelines and advice of ALL valuables under clothing and what little you keep handy very well stowed.

I am a New Yorker..and have been traveling in Europe for 27 years...I always use an UNDER CLOTHING hidden ( as in don't take it out in public) pouch with credit card lot's of cash, and passport,. The idea is you never go in to this it just stays there until you go back to the hotel...or if needed you go into a bathroom stall and take out something)

I recommend this bra stash, I use it in Italy every year... the style with the TWO straps not the single snap.

https://www.amazon.com/Nude-Pocket-Travel-Safe-Wallet/dp/B000BQW8AS

This is where I keep my daily cash, ONE credit card for daily use and one i.d. card. This can be taken out in shops etc because it is attached to a cord...no one can run off with it. I find it more secure and comfortable to attach it to one strap and tuck it into the side of my bra under my arm, you won't feel it.

If you want to keep a small amount of cash like 30 euros or something in a front pants zippered pocket that should be okay..not much to lose.

As for a purse/day bag, look for something with a strong strap that will not break, a zipper with flap over it and turn any zippered compartments against your body. If wearing a small backpack wear it in the FRONT...look at how other Europeans are holding their bags. But again this bag would be for non valuables, meds, glasses, book, water bottle...not cash or cards, passport or tickets

Posted by
449 posts
  1. This question belongs in the general Europe section.
  2. I am a man.
  3. The last two times I traveled alone, I went around with a backpack, some of the time, but mainly the backpack was because I wanted to carry food around with me. Some of the time I went back to my hostel in the late afternoon and then went out again with no backpack. With or without a backpack, I used a money belt as a substitute for a wallet.
  4. Do women carry purses just for the style or does being a woman inherantly cause you to have to carry around more supplies than a man? (this is just an off color question so you don't have to answer it).
Posted by
1122 posts

I carry a small fossil Cross body purse that is about 8×7 inches. Btw, if the medication you carry is urgent (epi pen or heart meds) it's even more important to keep secure than if it's some just in case advil

Posted by
300 posts

I am a pacsafe person myself. I have two, one is small and only fits the essentials, the second is larger and can hold my water bottle and an umbrella in the side pockets. Depends on the plans for the day which I use. Sometimes I will carry the big one and my male traveling partner will use the smaller one for his essentials. I don't do money belts find them uncomfortable and not necessary with my pacsafe. Also, remember with backpacks some museums will have you check them.

Checking a backpack is not a big deal except at the Vatican. Do not take a backpack to Vatican Museum! Far too difficult to retrieve. Other places - not a problem. Just take out what you need for visit - i.e. Camera, audio tour, etc.. Also, I always lock the zippers of my backpack. Small combo. Luggage lock is easy.

Posted by
11734 posts

Do women carry purses just for the style or does being a woman
inherantly cause you to have to carry around more supplies than a man?

Can't answer for other women but:

• Most of us have carried some sort of purse or shoulder bag around with us since we were teenagers. I think we do tend to carry more around than men do but at the same time, my husband frequently asks, "Do you have any Advil? Kleenex? A pen? Mints? A bandaid?" LOL, I carry for two! A mother with small children can carry even more than I do (wetwipes, small snacks, etc.) as she needs to be prepared for RIGHT NOW emergencies.

• My usual "purse" is an undersized backpack but I don't take it abroad. A shoulder bag is easier for quick access to and stowing of the camera and guidebook.

• Many men I know carry a shoulder or messenger bag to work. My husband has a small one for his ipad, phone, sunglasses and other assorted items. He just doesn't take his bag as many places as I do. He carries the cross-body Pacsafe when we go abroad.

Posted by
2353 posts

@Kathy we are indeed kindred spirits! Along with all of those sundrie needs I now carry my husbands wallet in my purse!

Posted by
11734 posts

LOL, Christi! I draw the line there.
Doggone it, if I have to haul everything ELSE, he can manage his own dinky wallet. Humph.

Posted by
2511 posts

my husband frequently asks, "Do you have any Advil? Kleenex? A pen? Mints? A bandaid?"

My story as well. And when I don't have what he wants he has this disappointed look on his face, like I let him down! LOL

PS...just to correct a mistaken impression...my purse issue is when I am at home. The purse with everything is at home when I travel, as is my husband these day. :( Now I'm traveling alone so I've use a small Bryant Pouch Baggallini for my important stuff and if with all camera paraphernalia on a particular outing another cross body bag to hold that---but the camera bag type is ever changing.

Posted by
308 posts

My husband and I both store our passports, cash, and credit cards we don't plan to use that day in our money belts. My husband uses a small backpack and I use a small messenger bag for water bottles, maps, umbrellas, etc.

Posted by
1122 posts

Wray and Kathy, I Travel w 3 other women, and one of them does not carry a purse . She frequently asks the question you ascribe to yr husbands. I've considered an intervention, but we've been at this for more than 20 yrs.....

Posted by
11734 posts

Blimey, Doric. 20 years? Methinks you're fighting a losing battle.
Deny her all access to your stash: that'll teach her!!!

Posted by
752 posts

LOL! I carry nothing for nobody! If you need the bottle, then you're not grown up enough to venture outside the house. If you need the comforts of home, then stay home!

Recently in Florence I sat next to a mid-aged couple at an outside patio at brunch-time when the husband asked the wife for a wet wipe! I mean, they had just left their hotel! She shook her head No, and so he then asked their waitress for a wet wipe who had No idea what he wanted! LOL! In fact, the poor gal appeared taken aback!

I happened to have a small packet of wet wipes on me, but No, I Didn't, I did Not offer it to him. I zipped my mouth and said Nothing. I mean, Look, the guy knows he'll need a wet wipe, so think to put a small pack of wet wipes in your pocket, Walgreens sells small travel packs, and they fit easy in a pocket!

Posted by
379 posts

See, Mike, you're traveling alone. That's why you need the backpack.

If you had a wife, she would be carrying everything for you in HER bag.