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Anti-Theft Crossbody Purse vs. Cavita Day Pack in Italy

I am a 64 year old female who will be traveling on my first R.S. Tour to Italy in September. I'm trying to follow all the guidelines and suggestions to help my tour experience go smoothly. I have a carry-on roller bag that I'll use with packing cubes, and I purchased the Cavita Day Pack for my "personal" item on the plane. I plan to use the day pack during the day tours, to hold a sweater, camera, water bottle, and guidebook, etc. I will use the R.S.'s moneybelt as suggested on the video describing its use. I am wondering if, especially for evening dinner use, if the constant use and weight of the day pack will be annoying to me. I won't be able to get to the moneybelt if I'm wear my maxi-dress out to dinner. I've been looking at an anti-theft, RFID blocking crossbody mini-bag from E-Bags, but am wondering how safe those are to use in Rome and Florence. Should I just use the day pack all day, every day, bringing it to dinner, or should I also pack the small purse that weighs 8 oz, for evening use? I'm also considering the safety hazard of a purse, but the one I've mentioned is anti-theft. Any comments from personal experience are appreciated. Thank you.

Posted by
2477 posts

You won't need an "anti-theft" bag if you are using a moneybelt. Any crossbody bag will do, because you'll have nothing of real value in it. You do NOT put every cent in the moneybelt-- cash for the day, and maybe one card you might need go in whatever you are carrying.

Posted by
6788 posts

Several things...

  1. No device will protect you more than your brain, as long as it's engaged. Keep your wits about you and you will be 98% of the way there. Have your head in the clouds and nothing will keep your stuff safe.
  2. Use your money belt (or similar device) as advised, don't obsess over it.
  3. Use whatever kind of day pack you like. To me, "cross body" bags seem silly and uncomfortable (yet popular); I know many folks love theirs. To each, their own. There's nothing special or secure about cross body bags, it's a bag. You need to keep your eyes and hands and brain on whatever kind of bag you have. Personally, I find a small day pack is most comfortable and can be perfectly secure (that depends on you, not the bag type). Don't overload it with stuff you don't really need.
  4. Forget any product that sells itself as "RFID blocking". This is complete nonsense designed to scam suckers. If that's how they're seeing you, do you really want to patronize them? Same with most things marketed as "anti theft". The most important anti theft device is you.
Posted by
5029 posts

While I use a messenger bag for daily "out and about" use, I always pack a small cross body purse for evenings. It is not "theft proof", and is thus only about 4 oz. And since I would never carry more than the daily cash plus a credit card in it, I don't find a need for spending money unnecessarily on something billed as "theft proof". Also, in 4 decades of international travelling, I've never had a purse stolen or pick pocketed.

Posted by
1194 posts

I rarely use a day pack. I prefer a cross body bag. I use a plain old purse I bought from Kohl’s. It’s very light and folds down small. But I also have the following:

  • I use a locking S-Biner to clip my purse zipper to the strap hardware.
  • my purse has an inner zippered pocket for my working wallet. The working wallet has a days worth of money in it.
  • When I’m super paranoid I sew in a wallet tether (also recommended for day packs). This is a piece of ribbon with a lobster clasp at the end. I then attach the clasp to the wallet. I like my tether to be around 6-8 inches long so I can pull the wallet out for access.
  • my wallet is RFID lined. I got it from Daymakers.
Posted by
11507 posts

Well remember you are not supposed to be trying to get in your money belt.. its deep storage..if you need to get in it you go somewhere private like the bathroom.. or you can do it on the bus.. You carry your daily cash on you, I have always carried a simple lightweight nylon cross body purse.. not some anti theft bag.. those are heavy to me... Derek Alexander has a few good ones... I love mine.. have used it for over 15 years.. I am on my second bag.. same model. . It has a full flap that covers the top zipper and clicks closed with a good clasp.. and I keep days money in a small change purse that is inside the Zipped inner pocket in my purse.

I personally would hate to carry a daypack.. I have never been in danger because of my purse.. and you arent either..

Remember you dont hang purse or bag off your chair at a restaurant or cafe.. it should be on your lap.. who wants a backpack on their lap.. ? I can leave my purse on .. and just swing it around on to my lap.

I dont carry a guide book .. I cut out a few pages as needed.. and I dont believe those RFID things are worth 10 cents.

Posted by
2616 posts

I just bring a regular purse--my favorite is by LeSportsac, the Everyday Deluxe bag; crossbody, plenty of pockets, light-weight because it's nylon and it can be expanded. All the things you mention it will hold easily. I don't bring my regular wallet, instead a small Coach wristlet that has a cord with a clip and that gets fastened at the bottom of the purse--I can access it, but it's not going anywhere without my knowledge. I do use a belt-loop money pouch for deep storage.

Posted by
76 posts

I use a small, light weight baggallini purse tucked inside a light weight daypack as my personal item on the plane. I find the daypack comes in handy on the tours, even if you just leave it on the bus. I then have the choice to carry just the purse or both the daypack and the purse, depending upon the situation. The purse often holds just my phone (for photos), a little cash and one credit card. The rest is in a money belt or safe.

Posted by
168 posts

Well I'll step out and be different. I love the Pacsafe purses. I have a small Guess changepurse attached to an interior clip and I use that for money, credit cards, etc. I use the outside pocket to hold my street map (yes, I still use Streetwise maps rather than my phone), a tissue, a little money for quick purchases like water or pastry. All zippers lock with a clip so I don't worry about someone trying to get their fingers inside. I use it, I lock it. I wear cross body purse all the time at home. Other than disney world, I don't carry a backpack around. I can't imagine needing to travel with that much stuff all day long. And I travel with three kids (another reason I like the lock because I am often distracted due to them and not focused on whether someone has their fingers going towards my purse). If anything, its a deterrent to potential thieves.

Posted by
561 posts

I used Rick's Civita shoulder bag on my first RS tour of Scotland. I thought is was very handy, large enough to put my scarf and even my rain jacket in if needed. The water bottle holders on the side are good, too. The weight of the bag won't bother you if you don't put too much stuff in it. Personally, I wouldn't pack an 8-oz purse that you might use once or twice. I just used the shoulder bag. If you want a different purse, find one that is really small and light. I don't use a money belt, so can't help you with that. If you stay aware of where your purse is at all times, you should be fine. I went to Italy a few years ago, took a regular small purse for walking around, and had no problems in either Rome or Florence. Enjoy Italia, it is wonderful!

Posted by
5697 posts

Okay, I carry a cross-body bag all the time at home because I don't have enough shoulders to manage a shoulder bag (slips off in 30 seconds) but I also love my Civita bag for carrying "stuff" -- so sometimes I wear both when traveling. Dorky, yes, but it works for me. But going out to dinner I carry less "stuff" so the Civita stays behind.

Posted by
439 posts

I actually carry a wristlet at night. Everything I want right in my hand. You can even tuck it into a pocket if you need to.

I did have someone try to steal it in broad daylight, a block from my home. He slammed into my shoulder, put his hands up over the purse to grab it. I actually did not have the strap over my wrist so I must have looked like a target. Fooled him, used to play football with my brothers, running back. When I felt the slam, instinct kicked in, at all costs, hang onto that ball. He didn’t get the bag.

The most important thing is to be aware. I should have had the strap over my wrist.

Posted by
891 posts

Please pay attention to Pat's advice about NOT hanging a purse or daypack on the back of a chair at restaurant or anywhere out in public. We were at a cafe having a quick lunch outside and a woman at another table had her purse lifted from the back of her chair. She didn't realize it until she was ready to go.

Not sure which tour you are on, but I hope you enjoy it. We've done 3 tours in italy and loved them.
Have a Great Trip

Posted by
3237 posts

I'm in the take a small purse camp. I use a small backpack along the lines of the RS C for my camera, usually, when carrying it all day, here and at home (DSLR). This is my purse that I use when traveling and at home, which fits into the backpack (and I can attach to backpack should I want to do so). Or I can wear it with or without the backpack as it is small (and I usually do just wear it). It holds all that I absolutely need; i.e., credit cards, keys, passport, money, lipgloss/chapstick, iPod, battery charger, day pills, etc. It does have RFID mainly because it is difficult to purchase a purse I like without it. I see you already have a purse, but I can't tell the size. By having a purse you can fit into your day bag, you are not moving your important items around, which can cause loss or confusion (for me at least...which bag, what did I do with them, etc.). Also, my risk manager self hangs the small purse on the door knob of my hotel room so I know exactly where it is, with my important stuff including key, should I have to evacuate quickly in the middle of the night, but that's another topic.

I found on the Greece tour that I often took the purse and held my camera in my hand...the larger bag stayed in the bus as the contents weren't needed for the stops. A small purse allows you to do this and, actually, I tend to put it on in the morning and not take it off all day when out. After a while any large bag becomes tiresome. With a small purse, I always know where my absolutely must have items are. I do like the security latch on the zipper and the locks on the strap...probably not necessary, but I like them.

Posted by
2851 posts

I suggest you pack everything the way you think will work. Then walk around for a day to see if it really works and is comfortable.

Last year I thought that my rolling carryon, a pacsafe tote bag which would hold my medium size travelon crossbody purse would work. Not! So I sewed on a trolley strap to the tote. I thought that would work and it did work good on the plane. But when I loaded a day's worth of stuff (camera, etc.) into the purse, the purse was too heavy and my neck and shoulders hurt. New attempt is same carryon, same tote, small crossbody purse for everyday and a packable backpack to carry camera, sweater, water, etc. when I need more room. I'm too old to care if it looks dorky to wear both the crossbody purse and a backpack. I use a neck wallet instead of a money belt because I mainly wear leggings and think the neck wallet worn crossbody hides better.
Have a great time on your trip!

Posted by
642 posts

I took a new Travelon crossbody bag on our trip to Italy. It was small enough to slip into my backpack which I used as my personal item on the plane. It is so comfortable to wear that I'm still using it even though we've been home for a couple weeks. Sometimes I took both the bag and the backpack when we set out on an adventure. When we joined the RS tour on week two of our trip, many times the backpack stayed on the bus and I just carried the purse. The "locking" zippers serve as a reminder to tightly close up my purse. I just looked though our photos, and most of the women on our Village Italy tour used crossbody purses.

Posted by
996 posts

Unless it's a transit day when we're moving from one hotel to the next, my other half and I split up what we're carrying. He has the day pack. I carry a small, cross-body purse so that I have my phone handy. At night for supper, we leave the day pack at the hotel. I just carry the purse.

I prefer the cross-body style because it stays on my shoulder without any effort on my part.

I think the number one factor - regardless of what you carry - is to just be aware of your surroundings, the same as you'd be aware in any major US city.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Posted by
919 posts

I have a Civita day pack and wear a money belt. I don't pack the daypack so full that I can't wear it on one shoulder and then somewhat tuck it under my arm so that when in crowds and on transit the bag is more in front and to my side than worn fully on my back. The good thing is that the microfiber fabric is very crushable and easy to fold.

Posted by
1501 posts

I don't have anything brand new to add, but I am thinking reading what a bunch of different people do may be helpful.

I have been to Ireland, Cuba, and Scandinavia (Rick Steves Tour). For these trips I used a Travelon cross body purse. I kept my passport in a bright green leather case with my credit cards and that went into a zippered compartment in my purse. I carry my passport with me wherever I go. I wore the purse like a piece of clothing. I put it on before I left my hotel room and took it off ONLY when I was back in my hotel room. I have not worn a money belt. For my two bus tours I also had a second bag for the bus. In that bag I kept a rain jacket, a neck pillow, water, snacks, cough drops, extra tissues, paperwork/books or such stuff. I left that on the bus and did not carry it when touring. My purse had my passport, credit cards, chapstick, tissues, kindle (did not take on last tour), ear phones, cell phone tickets. I use a 46L Osprey back pack (not packed full) and comfortably can carry that with my cross body purse and have my hands free (yes, this is important to me).

I am going to Italy in September. I did not wear a money belt on the above trips and would not if I went to these places again. Scandinavians don't get in your personal space. Because of what I have read about Italy, I am taking a neck wallet to wear cross body. I am not sure I will use it the whole trip, I don't like the idea of it. As an excuse to buy a new bag, I purchased a medium cafe bag by Tom Binh. I am using it day to day so I get used to accessing the different pockets so I am using good habits before my trip. I like it very much but it is too big for me day to day and I have ordered a small cafe bag to use at home. I will use a "don't tell Rick bag" again for the bus. It folds up small and could be used to check a bag if necessary on the way home. (I love my Osprey, no way I am checking that bag.)

I recommend trying some different things at home. Get used to a bag and become "automatic" where you put things. You don't want to be rummaging around looking in different pockets when you are on the fly.

Have a great trip.

Posted by
23412 posts

The idea of --- RFID blocking --- is mostly marketing hype to make you buy something expensive for nothing. IF really concerned about RFID then wrap a piece of AL foil around your cards with a rubber band. It is something that I never worry about. It wasn't a threat before and absolutely none with the chipped card.

Posted by
4535 posts

In case you are not yet overwhelmed with advice, here is my two cents. Much of the previous advice is good but some is not or is overkill.

Although RFID is overkill as noted by several, most secure wallets and bags come with that now. So don't specifically search out for it, but it's not anything to think about if it does have it.

If you think a daybag will be too much on evenings out, it probably will be. You know yourself best and your instincts are probably right. Plus in the evening, you won't need all that extra stuff as you carry during the day. So have a small cross body purse that is fully secured. By that I mean not a normal purse that just zips or clasps. If it's easy for you to get into, it probably is for a pickpocket too. That's why many get anti-theft travel bags or purses, they come with extra closings and inner pockets that are hard to get into.

Although advice about staying alert to your surroundings is fine, it is worthless when it comes to pickpockets. They tend to work by distraction and often generate their own distractions as if being in Europe doesn't have enough things to distract your attention. The key is actually to keep valuables where pickpockets cannot get them. Strong arm thefts are extremely rare; it is the stealthy pickpockets that are most prevalent.

As several have noted, never leave anything of value off your person: a phone on the table, a bag or purse slung over a chair, setting something down while you take a photo. But all that said, Italy is not a den of thieves and while it is wise to take some basic precautions, please do not fret or obsess over it. If you do take the above basic precautions, you'll be fine and need not worry.