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Rick Steves' Travel Bags

I purchased your rolling carry on bag and your Civita day bag to use for a trip to Italy that was planned for September, 2020`, but has been rescheduled for September, 2021. I used the bags recently for a beach vacation with my son. Love the bags, but my son said I should mot use the bags on my trip to Italy. He said because "Rick Steves" is so noticeable in white on the black bags, I would be targeted as a tourist by thieves and terrorists. I didn't realize the name was on the bags when I purchased them!

Posted by
157 posts

I’ve used both RS bags you bought for 20 years with no problems. Go ahead and use them for your overseas travels. The luggage and Civita day backpack have performed very well.

I have some RS bags. The labeling and colors are discreet. I think a Gucci or Louis Vuitton bag would be a bigger target. Don't think twice about a RS bag. Just go with the flow and enjoy. Besides, it's fairly easy to spot tourists anyway due to other factors. Just be low-key and reserved and you will be fine.

Posted by
1575 posts

I've been to Italy a few times; mostly Rome and never felt a security threat.

I am not a backpack girl but I think backpacks are more susceptible to attempted theft than a cross-body bag or a cross-body purse.

But since you have the Rick Steves bag, I would say just use it.

If you feel uncomfortable then just try to stick or sew a patch over the name. But, I really don't think it's necessary.

Now, if you were carrying an LV or a Coach or Chanel, then I would say, "yes, you will be targeted so do not bring those leather bags."

Of course, common sense things are: do not flash a lot of Euro or other monies. Leave the real expensive jewelry at home. Do not hang your bag on the back of a chair or lay your bag or the phone on a table in case somebody does run by for an easy grab. No wallets in the back pocket or jacket pockets. Why make it easier for anyone or tempting for anyone if that is the thought process.

My advice is while traveling anywhere; whether it be in your own state or abroad, keep a "big city" awareness, don't stop in the middle of the street and look at your phone or even a map or a guidebook. In other words, try not to distract yourself too much with those things.

Go off to the side to do those things.

But I will repeat - I really don't think you have anything to worry about.

While walking on the cobblestone streets, there will be pedestrian traffic, delivery truck traffic, bicycle and scooter traffic, and everything in between. LOL.

I'm presuming you will be visiting Rome which of course is a huge City with thousands and thousands of tourists and travelers. You may be approached by people begging for money - they will come in front of you and shake a little cup in front of you asking for some change or Euro. Just keep on walking - they won't chase you or harass you or harm you.

In case you run into Street sellers, just be cautious of the bracelet people. They may entice you to try one on and they tie it so it is difficult for you to get off and they demand Euro.

Other sellers may just hand you the bracelet and once you go for it, they will expect payment. Look them in the eye straight on and politely decline and walk away.

Don't buy any tickets for skip the line on anything. Some of them are not legit and you may lose some money and the ticket or skip the line ticket will be invalid. Just say no thank you or no Grazie. I always do and never had a problem.

Have a good trip when you were able to travel.

Posted by
852 posts

I’ve used the Civita day bag in Italy and many places without a problem. As someone else noted, people are going to know you are a tourist anyway. Thieves will look for an easy target first so just don’t carry around your wallet, credit card, etc in an easily accessible place, like in an open bag carried behind your back. Just take normal precautions like you would take in any large city or busy place, and enjoy your trip!

Girasole raised an important security topic in my mind. Many others will post this info. as well. Use a neck wallet/pouch or a "money" belt under your clothes for essentials like passport, credit cards reserve cash, etc.. Be aware of crowds in general (conscious of them - not afraid). Rome buses (and metro when crowded) are notorious for pickpocketers - some working as a team. My husband And I experienced this. But, because we followed RS's advice - we were not victims. Most of the time you will be fine. I have experienced friendly local Italians who were helpful. You just need to follow a few precautions and be aware. Also, a clip or small luggage lock on a zipper will help dissuade criminals.
Be cautious, but don't be afraid.

Posted by
2865 posts

Use it. As already stated, there are many other things that mark you as a tourist; language, clothing with sports team logos, looking at a map to decide where you’re going, that look of confusion as to where you’re going, etc. if you want security tips, I can send you a huge list of things to keep in mind.

Posted by
2855 posts

He said because "Rick Steves" is so noticeable in white on the black bags, I would be targeted as a tourist by thieves and terrorists.

You'll probably be recognized as a tourist anyway. I wouldn't worry.

Posted by
3437 posts

As others stated, you will look like a tourist no matter what you wear or what type of bag you carry. If someone is going to target a tourist, it will happen, hopefully not to you. I have been on Rick Steves tours 10 times carrying an easily identifiable RS bag and never once have I been targeted either for bad or good. There were the two times someone attempted to pickpocket me on subways, but I did not have any bag with me either one so that had nothing to do with the pickpocket's choosing me, and since I had nothing in my pockets to pick (everything of importance was in my money belt worn under my clothes or back at the hotel), I lost nothing.

Posted by
4394 posts

I don't like the way Rick Steves splashes his name and sometimes face on the products he sells, and that sometimes deters me from buying his products (though I have and love the Euro flight bag). But I agree with everyone else that branded RS products won't "target" you. In fact, they may keep you out of trouble by signaling that you're a savvy traveler who uses a money belt or neck wallet, knows where you're going, knows some phrases in the local language, probably isn't rich, and is otherwise a poor target for misbehavior. ;-)

Posted by
7895 posts

Yes, I agree with Stewart&Vicki....if it worries you, "stealth" it out using a black permanent marker. I've done that on other bags and it works fine.

TBH, I also don't think most people outside North America have heard of Rick. The exception would be the hotels, restaurants and guides his company uses.

I'll also vote for not using a backpack for a daily bag. I use a cross-body purse so I can keep my hand on the zipper (as advised by my first RS guide, Trina, lol!!).

Posted by
135 posts

Believe it or not, most Europeans have no idea who Rick Steves is unless they are a hotelier, restaurant owner or a shopkeeper Rick has recommended! Will probably just think there are a lot of people called Rick Steves with nicely monogrammed luggage!

Posted by
5710 posts

This does bring up an interesting point — when I look up the black rolling carry-on bag on the site for purchase, I don't see any such logo. Why aren’t they showing the bag as consumers actually receive it?

Posted by
6 posts

I have been using my three Rick Steves bags for travel since 2012 and I have never been targeted. I also use the Veloce bag every day for my purse.
Nobody really notices the logo, and if they do, I get complimented on how nice my bags look. Most people don't know who Rick Steves is and are more likely to notice name-brand luggage.

Posted by
1575 posts

Adding another thought to the OP and any newcomer who may read the thread -

I have seen people who have the cross-body bag or purse and slide it to the rear almost replicating a mini backpack. That kind of defeats any type of personal security.

Sometime ago, Travelon and another brand whose name escapes me right this second, heavily promoted their line of travel bags and wallets with the RFID security and the slash-proof mesh lining in the main compartment of the purses and bags.

There is controversy about that because is it overkill? Maybe.

But one of the travel gurus, Mark of Wolter's World said that his mother-in-law's bag was slashed seven times while they were traveling in Europe years ago. She had the bag with the slash-
proof lining in the bag and on the shoulder strap; so the would-be thief didn't get anything.

The bags also tend to be a bit heavier because of the wire mesh.

My travel crossbody bag is typically the Kipling hobo style.

So far, never had a problem.

As Sun-Baked of Florida mentioned, it is good to wear a money belt or a neck wallet if those are comfortable for you if you will be carrying a larger amount of Euro or other cash and more credit cards.

And as Sun suggested, be a bit more vigilant if you will be riding any city buses.

I have a mini, cross-body, Hedgren purse for my extra euro, card, and my passport. (yes I am from the school of thought that I carry my passport around with me when out and about. For me, it is a peace of mind in case there is an emergency and travelers cannot get back to their respective hotels; or when I travel solo if I am rendered sick or unconscious, the emergency personnel and doctors can look at my passport and see who I am.)

The Hedgren purse is heavy duty (thicker) nylon with a locking zipper, about 7 or 8 inches long. It is secured under my coat. Some of my travels have been in the month of December to Rome.

The other times I traveled to Italy in the warmer months, I still had no problem.

So it is really a matter of what makes you feel comfortable.

Adding edit: Oops, I reread my post and thought I would add...

The slashing of bags in Italy is pretty much non-existent. I don't know when people had these experiences and write about them on forums and give Rome or Italy a bad name.

Rome and most of Italy are really not violent based; especially in the tourist areas where you and your tour will be.

If a would-be thief wanted to steal something, they just want to tiptoe in and tiptoe out really fast.

And if you are worried about bicyclists or motor scooters grabbing your bag, then just reverse the side where you are wearing it when you are walking on the street. I have not read or heard about in present time that happening, so I don't think it is a high point of worry.

Posted by
8889 posts

As stated previously...

1) Most Europeans have never heard of Rick Steves. Most Americans have never heard of Rick Steves.

2) Thieves will not think "Oh, a Rick Steves bag, that person must have a moneybelt.

3) Do what I did....get yourself a black Sharpie and blacken out the Rick Steves name. It won't blacken out completely but it will be much darker.

Posted by
176 posts

Everyone's right -- you'll already stick out as a tourist. For me, the issue is why should I pay a company for the privilege of advertising their merchandise? It's like using the RS guidebooks. That blue and yellow cover can be spotted from a mile away. Recently, we've seen them in Italy, France, Croatia, and Slovenia, and they scream "I'm an American." I use the guidebooks, but rip them apart and put them in a nondescript black page binder. Most of the world doesn't care, but at least I feel a little less obvious.

Posted by
1233 posts

I bought my RS backpack and Civita day bag for an Italy trip in 2003. They are both still in use as of my last big trip in 2017.

Posted by
1575 posts

OP got a lot of good suggestions and more than she bargained for probably, ha.

Posted by
3374 posts

....if it worries you, "stealth" it out using a black permanent marker...

We've done that but for a different reason -- we don't like to "advertise" any product. Do not mean to sound snarky, but the fact that you are using luggage will indicate you are probably a tourist. But that by itself won't make you a target.

Because of my body anatomy (I'm busty) - I don't do crossbody anything. I like crossbody products - but they won't work for me. I use Ameribags and small backpacks. I don't carry anything of significant importance in my pack. I also use a small combination luggage lock or simple wire loop cable lock (key dept. at Wal-mart for about $1). My pack has never been "violated."

My point is - you can use backpacks and purses with precautions. Keep them under your feet or on your lap if eating at a table in a crowded "touristy" area. This also applies to crowded public transportation vehicles. I also stand with my back to a wall in places like train stations, etc.. That way, no one can grab my bag from behind.

I looked up some RS bags online here. I just don't like the look of the white thread on a black bag. I don't mind the RS name. I think the blue, gray, or plum color RS uses on his other bags would be more discreet and attractive. I like bright bold colors like bright red or yellow. (I am probably in the minority on luggage thread color.)

Perhaps you could snip off the thread. I believe it's stitched, not printed on the bag. (I could be wrong.)

Posted by
1158 posts

Or just look forward to the lovely fellow tourists you'll meet who will see the RS label and just start making conversation based on it. We've met plenty of nice people who saw our RS bags, or our RS guidebook and started chatting based on that.

Posted by
2595 posts

Did RS move the location of his label? On my RS wheeled bags his name is on the handles. I use handle covers of different colors to make my bag stand out from everyone else's anyway, so that covers his logo. Generally, I tape over, black out, whatever is needed to get rid of labels on any type of item.

That being said, RS bags lean toward the less expensive level for bags, so you won't stand out because of them anyway, IMO. Italy is fine and wonderful. Just watch your wallet like you would in any city and keep your back up financials in a different location. Your back up can, but does not have to be, in a money belt.

Posted by
5455 posts

Love my Civita -- although it's green with green embroidery so the name isn't obvious. Carries guidebook pages, water bottle, snacks, sweater ... but not passport, credit cards, or large cash, all of which are strapped to my body under my clothes. I figure the pickpockets will focus on the ladies with Prada bags, not a scruffy old lady with a 7-year-old daypack.

I am not nice to my luggage. My bags show wear and tear. A thief most likely would be far more interested in someone's TUMI bag than mine. A thief would be disappointed in my bag contents as well. Not worth stealing.

(Suggestion - I use bright colored paracord to repair lost zipper tabs. (internet craft project). These make our bags stand out and easier to identify when checking a bag.). Use 325 cord. 550 is a bit thick for sliding through small holes. Depends on your particular zipper.)

Perhaps, RS needs to start a category for luggage repairs.

Posted by
11741 posts

I would be targeted as a tourist by thieves and terrorists.

Just where are you going? France?

Posted by
16 posts

We bought the convertible travel bags way back in 2004. I didn't want the name across the bottom of the bag so I just used a seam ripper to pull out the threads. It was easy, did no damage, looks fine and still using the bags. You could also do the permanent marker thing as others of said.

Posted by
2382 posts

I don’t think RS is that well known among European criminals. Having a suitcase makes it fairly obvious you are a tourist. Yes locals carry suitcases from their home to the airport/train station but it’s usually obvious someone dragging a suitcase into the city center looking around to find their way is a tourist. The Rick Steves name won’t really register as much more than a brand name. Certainly cover it up if you feel better but I don’t think it matters.

Also, terrorists? I wouldn’t worry about them targeting you. Terrorist attacks are very rare, but when they happen they are targeting big groups. Of course you could theoretically (but again, really, really rare) be in that group if they are targeting a bus or a square...but your suitcase is irrelevant.

Posted by
1575 posts

Some other points to consider besides leaving the expensive bags and jewelry at home, try not to wear too much identifying clothing or any clothing that has a defined political statement on it.

Italy attracts many many, many travelers, and while the local Italians probably wouldn't say anything to you, you just don't know about another person who is all wired up.

I always wear my crucifix. The only a couple of times someone made a negative comment was here in the good old USA.

I have been guilty of wearing bold colored ("Florida") floral prints. I stood out in Washington D.C.. NYC - "Florida" style can be a bit bold as well. But, NYC has all kinds of people who don't care how you dress.

I now wear more subdued, plain colors when traveling. I still look and speak like a tourist.

Posted by
1575 posts

Haha Sun-Baked.

I don't like printed brands or names on shirts or clothing of sorts.

When traveling, I wear solid colors - mostly muted and monochromatic or tonal. I jazz up the outfits with a pretty scarf.

Probably bright colored Florida jerseys or t-shirts wouldn't phase most travelers, lol.

Basically I was referring to hats and t-shirts that could cause a controversial argument.

Posted by
6793 posts

I think by the time any evil doer is close enough to read the name on a bag, they have already figured out you are a tourist.

Posted by
2595 posts

Mira, this is the best line yet:

I don’t think RS is that well known among European criminals.

Posted by
5371 posts

I guess the "American Tourister"** labels on some luggage would be a dead giveaway. Seriously ahcauthen, the threat of thievery is worth taking some precautions for, but luggage brands are not the prime criteria for choosing targets. Inattentive and careless people, regardless of where they come from, are what make easy targets.

We have a total of four RS bags and none of them have white lettering. But I'd use a marker or piece of tape if its a concern. Strategically placed duct tape makes a lot of things look undesirable.

** a popular brand of luggage in the US

The Ravenna Daypack in black has white stitching. This may be a new color combination for "branding" bags.
(I think gray or RS's blue spruce would be better.)

My old RS bags all have black "branding." But, none of my bags are black.

Posted by
1111 posts

I have used RS bags since 2005. I have met many people on my travels, who also have RS bags, and we always strike up a conversation, e.g. "another Rick Steves fan"! We will all usually have a lot in common and compare our trips. Nice way to meet fellow travelers. Much like seeing fellow travelers with RS books.