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Best way to carry valuables & be safe from pick-pockets

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Oct 21st, 1999, 06:18 AM
  #1
Curious
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Best way to carry valuables & be safe from pick-pockets

I'm not a fanny-pack kind of person (even the kind you keep in the front) and besides those seem very accessible to pick-pockets. I would like to hear how others carry around their cash, credit cards & passport in a way that's safe. I'm considering sewing a zipper pocket into my coats that don't already have one, but I'd really like to have a purse-like alternative. I'm traveling with a few other people so suggestions for both men & women are greatly appreciated!

Thanks!
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 08:02 AM
  #2
NB
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I generally carry a smaller size purse with a longer strap. Then in the winter months, I just put my purse on my shoulder and across my chest, then put my coat on over it. No one can get to it through your coat. (My coat is a little longer.)

 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 08:09 AM
  #3
Jo
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One great way to carry stores of funds (not that accessible though) is in a money belt (i.e. looks like a normal belt, except has a small section hollowed out for a roll of notes). I normally find my shoulder bag great. Looks dressy (read "non-touristy", comfortable (I take it to work every day so I am use to it), unpickpocketable (I have it over my shoulders, it sits about hip height, I then thread my hand back through it, and it rests comfortable on top of the zip opening) and its roomy - fits a camera, sunglasses, water bottle, book, you name it....
Never had a problem, and I work in London Victoria (a pick pocket problem area), every day, and carry the same bag on crowded tubes. Resting the hand on top helps - you are immediately aware of any problems. It also allows me to take a tighter grip on it, if somebody tries to grab it.
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 08:11 AM
  #4
Beth
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I carried a purse in italy. Like NB I carried one with a long strap so I could wear it diagonally, and let it hang in front right about on my hip. Also the bag had a zippper closure, and internal pockets, so that I could keep my valueables away from anyone who would slit the bottom. I never had a problem. Lots of people, locals and tourists alike carry purses. As always awareness is key. And just in case, don't carry more cash than you can afford to lose, and keep a spare credit card in the hotel safe, or somewhere else.
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 08:23 AM
  #5
Richard
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Other than leaving them in the hotel safe, the next best thing is a money belt worn under your clothing. These will hold your passport, ATM and credit card and travelers checks (if you use them). We also keep copies of each others airline ticket receipt and passport front pages. A zippered inside pocket is a good idea for walking around money. Waist or fanny packs are a real target and not secure.
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 08:29 AM
  #6
Ruth
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I did not carry a purse in Italy or Spain but relied upon zippered pockets in my slacks and an inside pocket in my jacket when I wore it. I found it liberating not to have the hassle of a purse. My husband got a wallet that hangs inside your pants from your belt; he found that comfortable and easy to use. We never carried our passports but only copies of them.
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 09:17 AM
  #7
Bob Blrown
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I cannot emphasize enough the importance of protecting your valuable documents.
My wife and I returned recently from Paris. While there, I was targeted by a pickpocket. Luckily, for some reason he did not take my hip pocket wallet. Perhaps I looked too poor to bother with, or my wallet was too thin. But at any rate, I was rejected.
Had he lifted my wallet he would have gotten $7.00 US and my voter registration card.

My most important wallet-type items were around my neck, under my shirt and jacket. Both my wife and I use these neck pouches or wallets made by Eagle Creek. They hang on a cord so that you can conceal them under your clothes. (Just get the cord out of sight under your collar.) They are large enough to hold your passport, your credit cards, your drivers license and "big" money in zippered and velcro-fastened pockets.
My wife also carries a small front pack for various personal items but nothing that cannot be easily replaced; I wore a shell jacket with ample pockets that zip.
OK. How did I know that I was fingered by a pickpocket? It happened this way.
We were boarding a Metro train. A young man was pretending to read the route map that is posted over the doorway. As I entered to my right, he stumbled into me causing physical contact with my shoulders, as he exited the car while the doors were closing.

A young fellow, who spoke Engish with native fluency, was sitting next to where I was standing. He explained to me that the stumbling map reader had fingered my back pocket and asked me if anything was missing. Fortuately, my wallet was still there.
Had he taken anything, there was no way I could have followed him even if someone had alerted me because his timing was masterful as he squeezed through the closing doors.

I was a little slow to realize what was going on, as was my wife. Her reaction was "What's with that guy?" Well, he was trying to rob me!! That was what was with that guy!!

So let me urge you to protect your most valuable documents: passport, credit cards/ATM cards, and large amounts of cash.

And we can forget about "looking like a native" or appearing "less touristy". Neither of us look like a local. My wife can walk into a store or shop just about anywhere in Paris and people automatically start speaking English to her, if they know any. Even a street vendor selling peanuts hailed us in English on a rainy night. He might have known 20 English words, but he knew who to use them on.

 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 09:22 AM
  #8
elaine
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I carry a long-handled tote bag that can go over my shoulder. I have used
leather, or more recently, black microfiber. I just make sure that the top can zip closed, and that there are
internal zippered pockets to hold my wallet, camera, etc. While I travel around it also holds my mini umbrella, my guidebook, my map, my bottle of water,sometimes my sweater, etc. On the plane it serves as my carryon bag. I go through my wallet at home, take out only what I will need for my trip (the essential credit and debit cards, the phone card, but not my Blockbuster card, for example). I put them in what I call my travel wallet, which is just a wallet but it is microfiber, has several zippered compartments for cash and coins, pockets for cards, and is large enough to accommodate that funny foreign currency as well as my passport.
I am happy to say I have never been a crime victim while traveling, knock wood.
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 10:08 AM
  #9
Lori
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Use caution (as you would in any large city) but don't become so paranoid that you don't enjoy your trip. A money belt can be a good idea for the items that would be hard to replace (passport) but I always carry a purse, (medium sized shoulder style with a zippered top) and keep it toward the front of me with a firm grip! It's handy to have a credit card and some money in the purse (along with makeup, etc.) I'd never consider a fanny pack as they are the ugliest things on earth (I like to look fashionable and I guess I "blend" in well as people in France routinely talk to me in French). My husband has a money belt as well but also keeps a credit card and $$ accessible in an inside pocket. Anything can happen, anytime, anywhere, just use common sense in crowds, subways, etc. I'd say "be alert" but don't get paranoid. Some of this may just be street smarts and depending upon where you come from they can be more fine tuned from some areas of the U.S. Remember, people "live" in London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, etc. and they go about their daily life with purses, wallets, etc. too.
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 10:09 AM
  #10
Lori
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Use caution (as you would in any large city) but don't become so paranoid that you don't enjoy your trip. A money belt can be a good idea for the items that would be hard to replace (passport) but I always carry a purse, (medium sized shoulder style with a zippered top) and keep it toward the front of me with a firm grip! It's handy to have a credit card and some money in the purse (along with makeup, etc.) I'd never consider a fanny pack as they are the ugliest things on earth (I like to look fashionable and I guess I "blend" in well as people in France routinely talk to me in French). My husband has a money belt as well but also keeps a credit card and $$ accessible in an inside pocket. Anything can happen, anytime, anywhere, just use common sense in crowds, subways, etc. I'd say "be alert" but don't get paranoid. Some of this may just be street smarts and depending upon where you come from they can be more fine tuned from some areas of the U.S. Remember, people "live" in London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, etc. and they go about their daily life with purses, wallets, etc. too.
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 10:20 AM
  #11
elvira
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1) Take nothing you don't need: leave your Sears and Bloomingdale's cards at home; if you're not driving, leave the driver's license and gasoline credit cards at home. I take my passport, Visa/Mastercards, and ATM cards. I leave the family photos, business cards from my hairdresser, and my domestic calling card at home.
2) I have a small purse with a long, thin strap that either hangs around my neck and can be tucked into my waistband or slung bandolero-style across my chest. It holds my passport, plastic and money.
In addition, I carry a small totebag (or small nylon backpack slung over my shoulder)for maps, itinerary, umbrella, etc., which also serves as a shopping bag when the souvenir bug strikes.
3) I have never had a problem with pickpockets, but two women who were with us this year did have attempts. One wore a fanny pack; the other wore a backpack on her back. I'm not sure I learned the right lesson from this, but I'll never wear a fanny pack or a backpack on my back ever ever ever.
4) I've thought about the zippered pocket idea (there are skirts, pants and jackets sold through catalogs that are made this way), but I'm afraid something might fall out as I drag out something else (at least with a purse, it's in front when something falls out so I can see it hit my feet).

 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 10:28 AM
  #12
Monica Richards
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In my recent trip to Spain and Portugal I threw caution to the winds and brought my very stylish microfiber black backpack/ purse. Everyone in there was wearing these types of purses! I am relatively young (32) and my husband I dress fairly casually and don't wear expensive jewelry so we don't look like we have anything of value. Also, I didn't carry anything I couldn't afford to lose, and my money was in a zippered pocket inside the lining so even if someone slit the backpack or unzipped it they couldn't have gotten the money (i.e. no wallet inside the purse). I HATE moneybelts--I would rather be pickpocketed than wear one, so I have carried those small wallet purses around my shoulder and neck or a backpack on all of my trips. Never had a problem. But I'm also very alert, and I will slip my backpack off of my back and carry it by both straps in close quarters (like on a bus or crowded street market). Basically, just take precautions like you would in any big city and you'll be fine.
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 10:44 AM
  #13
michele
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My husband wears a moneybelt and takes only what he needs. I hate them and carry a small bandelero style bag and also take only what I need.
As for zipped inside pockets, my husband had all his travellers' checks stolen from an inside zipped jacket pocket ( he was wearing it at the time!)
That's when he got a money belt and took only what he needed.

Keep in mind that if you do have your pocket picked it is an inconvenience. Credit card companies and travellers' check companies refund your money ..that's why you have them. Don't let it ruin you trip. Of course, be alert and use common sense. Have fun...


 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 11:50 AM
  #14
greg
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The strategies mentioned usually work in countries where pick-pockets want to remain low key, which is usually the case for Western European countries. It does no good in countries where the pick-pockets work in group, pulling down pants and shirts to look for money belts.

The suggestions consists of combinining multiple strategies depending on how much one care to do something about them.

Reduce total valuables taking with you in the first place, then of those, reduce what you carry with you and leave the others in hotel safe.

Distribute valuables around your body so being hit at one place does not mean total loss of all you are carrying.

For those things that I had to carry that did not like to get wet from body humidity, I reshaped small thick zip lock bags from REI (something with thicker plastic than kitchen zip lock bags) using a heated metalic straight edge to make them fit exactly around passport, plane tickets, Eurail pass, etc. to reduce the bulk.

I have not been hit by a pickpocket YET. But the keyword here is YET. I am aware of an attempt, just fraction of a second short of a small hand going into my pocket. There must be many other attempts I do not know about.
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 12:07 PM
  #15
Richard
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Greg;Who the heck would want to be a tourist in the kind of country you're talking about and where are they?
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 12:38 PM
  #16
s.fowler
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On the assumption that the previous post is not tongue-in-cheek [which I hope it is.] Paris, Rome, Prague, Budapest and a lot of eastern europe in general.
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 12:46 PM
  #17
elvira
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Greg, are you sure you were in a foreign country, not a fraternity party? And I just discovered *another* use for a washcloth: loincloth for wearing in those countries that pants their tourists.
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 01:00 PM
  #18
martha python
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"How can I avoid looking like a nude tourist after being pantsed for my euros?"
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 01:03 PM
  #19
Richard
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s., I'm not really sure what I'm reading, are you saying Paris, Rome, Prague and Budapest might be candidates for Greg's experience? I might look like Clem Kadiddlehopper when I travel, but I've been to Paris 10-12 times, Rome 5-8 and the other 2 once each for a couple of days and never thought I'd be ankled. This is all a big joke, right?
 
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Oct 21st, 1999, 01:07 PM
  #20
s.fowler
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Or to wipe geese dung offa ya!
Girls you are waaaaaaaay baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.....
 
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