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Where to keep cell phone to prevent theft? In money belt?

I have an iPhone 6+ that I plan to use to take photos, access maps, etc. I've done this on many other trips, but I haven't been as concerned about theft on those trips as I am with Italy.

Where do you keep your phone while out and about in Rome, Venice, Naples, etc? Even if I put it in a zippered pants pocket, it seems like it might get picked. Putting it in my money belt would make accessing it very inconvenient, not to mention it would make the money belt heavy and stuffed.

Posted by
2 posts

A well travelled gentleman told me he uses nice big, thick rubber bands and wraps them around his wallet and cell phone. If a pickpocket tries to slip it out, it gets hung up and I guess you can feel it.

Posted by
706 posts

Hi 49er. May I ask where you have traveled to before and why you feel more concerned about theft in Italy?

Your question has been raised and answered multiple times on the forum, so perhaps those answers may help you:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/tech-tips/theft-proof-way-to-carry-an-iphone-6

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/how-to-carry-wear-an-iphone

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/how-to-carry-cell-phone

I'm still not good with using hyperlinks so hope you can copy and paste :)

Posted by
524 posts

Timely post, as this was on my mind yesterday. I bought a bagellini at TJ Maxx, and although a nice size and lightweight....and price, I now don't feel it's safe enough. I think I will break down and purchase a pacsafe and place it there. It zips at the top with nothing to secure or lock that, and no outside piece to flip over. It has deep storage and that's it. I was just wanting to get by not spending $65 on a pacsafe. Since I don't have the receipt, I really messed up.

Posted by
715 posts

Would you carry your iPhone In Your money belt at home?

Posted by
752 posts

Are you a guy or gal? I wear a shoulder travel pouch I got from the RS shop. It's cloth, very light, very small, and I wear the strap over my right shoulder and the pouch on my left side. I can hide it under a light wrap, or under my left arm with a light scarf around my neck to hide the straps.

Posted by
506 posts

My husband mostly kept his in a front shirt zip pocket. He has some great Eddie Bauer shirts that have a front pocket that zips closed. Just keep every thing important in the front of your body, whether its a hidden pouch, front body bag or front pant or shirt pockets. Don't put anything on your belt.

Posted by
7737 posts

I bought a small messenger bag from Pacsafe for my recent five weeks in Italy (three of which were on my own). That's where I kept my smartphone and other valuables. I always wore it crossbody and could lock down the zippers if I felt I was approaching a risky situation.

Posted by
16796 posts

Keep the money belt for deep storage of small valuables that are not going to be removed more than once a day. I've seen people use the money belt like a change purse, which is not its purpose.

Posted by
1737 posts

I have a Longchamp backpack that I use when I travel. The shoulder straps pull up to tighten the opening, so no one can get into it without me feeling it. (unless they cut it with a knife -- that would be so rare anywhere)

Mostly if I used it to take photos, I held it in my hand. Never put it on a table when eating, and only kept it in back pocket of my jeans (like I do all day at home) if I was not around other people. I tend to use a regular camera, but did use my iPhone when I wanted to Instragram a photo, or Facebook one instantly.

All that being said, you really need only worry if you are in a big group of people, crowded together, like on a bus or metro.

I've experienced one attempt at being pickpocketed, and it was of course on the Metro. The man didn't get us because I had all our valuable in my over the shoulder bag, and my hand on the zipper...

I'd recommend a shoulder bag of a small size that has a zipper, or some sort of flap, and if in a crowded situtation, just make sure you keep one hand on the opening. I promise you, you will NOT feel the pick pockets fingers working your bag open, no matter what type of bag it is.

To be very secure, the best would be a PacSafe bag....they have locks on all zippers.

Posted by
1406 posts

I haven't seen this mentioned, but I carry a "dummy" wallet when I'm travelling. Picked it up for $5 at a Walgreens or something, I keep it in the usual location so if someone is tempted they're going to for for it and not pursue things.

And when they open it, they're going to find a dollar bill. Or a Euro, depending. Enjoy!

I suppose a note in the native tongue would be amusing but could have repercussions.

Posted by
4512 posts

I carry it in my belt wallet, along with all my other valuables. It is big enough that the iphone slips right down into a pocket. The wallet hangs on the outside and is easy for me to access - but nearly impossible for someone else to get into without me knowing.

For a woman, a secure purse is ideal. And by secure, I mean a Pacsafe or equivalent. Something that makes it hard to get into and has inner secure pockets. Not just a purse with a clasp or snap.

I also carry a small daybag while touring. It holds guidebooks, maps and such. It too is tougher to get into and has inner secure pockets. Slipping a phone into one of the pockets would work well.

The main challenge you'll have is to use it regularly for photos, you'll need quick access. Most cameras come with straps that wrap around your wrist or shoulder - thus making it hard to steal. So using a phone as a camera isn't ideal, but plenty of people do it. Needless to say, have all your data/contacts backed up and the phone on a password access.

Posted by
10338 posts

A money belt is not a good place for a cell phone that you're going to be accessing frequently.

Posted by
14 posts

I agree with comments made here and lots of great solutions that I'm going to consider because my wife and I are traveling to Rome this Summer. For me, if I can't stand the loss of something then i don't take it. We are going to Italy for all that Italy has to offer so yes theft is a possibility that is a challenge. We have photo copies of passport and any other paper document we need. Cell phones, tablets, jewelry, etc., in our view, just makes us targets so we'll just be inconvenienced and enjoy our trip instead.

If you do find or decide upon a solution please let us know...I'm always up for learning something.

Posted by
10338 posts

If you put the following 3 items in your money belt:
ATM card
credit card
deep stash of cash

and wear the belt under your trousers/skirt, then
You can simply put the thought of losing your vital items out of your mind.
And focus on enjoying your trip.
It's about that simple.

Posted by
4512 posts

^^^ But the question was about protecting one's phone. Honestly I would rather lose my ATM or CC or passport than my phone. Those are can be easily replaced with no financial loss. Losing one's phone would be a big financial and data loss/hassle.

Posted by
5642 posts

my dad also carries a dummy wallet -- and fills it with those fake credit cards that you get sent in the mail . . . sadly no one's "taken him up" on it yet!

As to the phone, I think folks have brought up some good ideas here - - the money belt isn't really a realistic option, but inside a front zip pocket or perhaps with one of those leash things.

With the recent posting about the pickpockets on the bus in Rome, I can see how you would be concerned. The same can happen on the metro here in Paris although I've never seen/heard of it being so aggressive here (which doesn't make any loss any less real!).

Posted by
12 posts

Thanks for all the replies.

Monique -- I've been to over 30 countries, including most of western Europe, south & southeast Asia, and some others. I visited Italy 15 years ago. I've never been robbed or pick-pocketed, but to-date Rome is the only place I ever felt a stranger's hand go into my back pocket. I've always used a money belt so he/she came up empty. I didn't have a cell phone back then when I traveled. In my other recent travels I've been able to keep my phone in my front pocket or a zippered pocket. I'm more concerned about theft in Italy because I think the risk factors (more tourists/crowds/transit situations providing opportunity, more thieves) and incidence rates are higher. If there are statistics to the contrary, let me know.

jkc -- No, I wouldn't carry my iPhone in my money belt at home because the people who live in my house won't steal from me. I also don't wear a money belt in the area around my home since the risk factors for pickpocketing in my daily life are low, and the incidence of pickpocketing is virtually nil where I live.