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To belly bag...or not to belly bag.....that is the question!

To belly bag...or not to belly bag.....that is the question!

Dec 13th, 2000, 07:58 AM
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To belly bag...or not to belly bag.....that is the question!

I am trying to decide if I should use a belly bag or not. This will be my first trip to Europe and I really do want to take pictures.
I do not want to "loose" my camera but don't want to have to carry it clutched in my hand for 6 weeks either. I am not too concerned by the "not looking like a tourist" issue; no way I'll blend in in Italy anyway as I am Irish and Scots. I also don't want to look like a target because I am wearing a belly bag. If I do this, I will get one of the ones with the cable through it so that it cannot be cut. Also, unless it is really hot
(April/May) then I will probably have a cardigan type top on over it. Other than possibly using a belly bag, I plan on dressing conservatively, dark clothes, no sneakers, ect. Are there really no other people in the world other than us Americans that wear belly bags??

Any ideas?

Thanks, Linda
Dec 13th, 2000, 09:17 AM
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The belly bag is no guarantee against thieves; in Paris, one of our party who was wearing one in the front, got to the top of the metro escalator - where a man had stopped just at the top of the escalator. As our companion scrambled to keep her balance, the man reached behind and unzipped her bag; she yelled and he took off.

I find a totebag (with short straps) with a zippered top, held over my shoulder, thumb looped through the handles and held close to my body by my elbow is not only the securest but the most comfortable. I have a lightweight camera with a long strap which I thread through the handles of the totebag, then drop the camera inside the bag. Access to the camera is quick, I can carry it and take pictures in quick succession, then easily drop the camera into the bag when I'm done. I can't accidently leave the camera anywhere, as the strap is attached to my totebag.
The only thing that's ever been stolen from me in all my travels was a "Paris Par Arrondissement" picked out of my coat pocket. 10 years later, I'm still pissed 'cause I've never found one as good.
Dec 13th, 2000, 11:05 AM
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Anyone have a used "Paris Par Arrondissement" for Elvira? It's the least we can give her, considering the wealth of information she has given all of us.

Elvira, you're welcome to my new "Streetwise Paris." Terry
Dec 13th, 2000, 07:38 PM
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Linda: Why not use a small backpack? They are very comfy and look sooooo much better on anyone than a "belly bag". If worried about security you could put a small lock on the zipper of the backpack. Have fun.
Dec 13th, 2000, 08:59 PM
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Elvira and Sally: I have bad vertebrae in my neck so carrying a backpack is definitely out of the question and anything hung on my shoulder is not good either. That is pretty much why I want to use the belly bag. Thanks for the suggestions anyway! If I do go that route, I will just have to put a stun gun in the "ON" position in the top of my bag! LOL! Reminds me of that commercial on TV where the waitress gets the annoying customer back for putting small change in her apron pocket all the time! (She finally puts a stun gun in there!)

No, really, I am sure that they are as illegal as pepper spray in Europe.

Dec 13th, 2000, 09:25 PM
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There is no way that I would use a belly bag traveling. It is far to easy for someone to get the bag and/or the contents. I use a shoulder bag that i can put over one shoulder and around my neck. I also have a bag that I can put the essentials inand carry with me. You won't get hurt in Europe but many many people get pickpocketed.
Dec 14th, 2000, 08:39 AM
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If you carry a large camera in readiness you may be a target.
If you are a target it makes no difference where it is stashed, you are relying on luck/physical scaryness.
Try either carrying a small camera in your jacket or keep it packed then do quick picture taking sessions.
Or just make sure you are insured - no compensation really for losing the film though.
IMO backpacks are inherently more insecure than belly packs.
I know a 70-year old man who had his moneybelt phsically torn from under his shirt in Ronda.The best way is to avoid being targetted.
Dec 14th, 2000, 09:02 AM
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Frank, I am not going to be brandishing
a huge camera, in fact I am looking at getting one of those Canon Elph's that are teeny-tiny and actually take reasonable pictures (digital).

I can't imagine that a backpack would be safer than a belly bag. The opening to the backpack in behind you where you can't see what is happening, especially in a crowd. Never mind the fact that my neck and upper back won't be able to handle it. At least with a belly bag, you can walk along with your hand over it, or as I said I might do, with a cardigan buttoned over it.

Thanks for the suggestions!
Dec 14th, 2000, 09:26 AM
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Linda, have you seen the bags that are designed to go across your body like a bandolero? I have a couple of purses like that - the straps are wider than a on a usual handbag, and are offset rather than straight on. There's a zippered pocket in the back, which is what rests against my body (where I keep passport and the dough), and a larger pocket that faces out, where I keep map, pen, etc. If you are going to get a little Elph camera, it would fit in the front pocket easily (my favorite bag of the lot has a VELCRO front pocket - easy to hear if someone opens it, and easy for me to get into and out of.
My best advice is to carry almost nothing - even with Spine of Steel, I get tired carrying stuff. No guidebook (rip out the pages you'll use, or write it down on notebook paper and carry that); teeny totes umbrella that weighs virtually nothing (Christmas gift from Mom a couple of years ago - way to go, Ma); stripped out wallet - only the ATM/credit cards I use on the trip (everything else stays at home) and GET RID OF THE COINS - those freakin' pound coins *weigh* pounds.
Dec 14th, 2000, 10:22 AM
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I'm not quite sure what your question is, if you don't care what you look like (and you said you don't) and think that's best, go ahead and wear one. I think they are ugly and would never one, in Europe or not, but some people other than Americans do wear them when being a tourist, also, so if that's what you are worried about, don't. I've seen European tourists wearing them. I don't understand your need, though, as I often carry a small Olympus clamshell camera with me (and you said you would have a very small one), and it just fits right in my purse or even my pants pocket. You don't need a belly bag just for a small camera. I'm fairly unnoticeable though and have never had anyone try to pickpocket or steal anything from me, even though I don't use any special bags/belts. Have not been to Italy, though, I hear this type of crime is bad there. I agree with you that a backpack would not be better; I do occasionally carry a daypack around with me but I usually do not put it on my back (unless I've bought some heavy/bulky things and am not in a densely populated or tourist area, I just sort of use it like a tote back (it's unconstructed, just a nylon bag, really). I see lots of tourists with day packs on their backs and am totally amazed at how unconcerned they seem about theft. They don't look much better anyway, and even if locked, one can more easily cut open a backpack from the rear than what you call a belly bag (a term I will admit I've never heard of). I don't think your cardigan will fool anyone.
Dec 14th, 2000, 10:23 AM
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Hi Elvira, I agree with you to try to carry almost nothing....no guidebooks for me. I really don't want to have anything hanging or strapped on me; I know I will get tired of it well before 6 weeks is up! Since I am getting the litle Elph camera, I was even considering putting it into one of those under the clothes money belt/carrying things. Yes, I have seen those bags you
mentioned but don't really want to go that way. Heck, I might just stuff the darn camera in my sock!! gt;}

Dec 16th, 2000, 03:27 PM
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When my friend and I boarded the Newfoundland ferry last May, a crew member saved us from the long staircase to the upper deck and escorted us to an elevator. Puzzled at this unusual courtesy at first, we had a good laugh when it dawned on us that the belly bag she wore under her windbreaker led the kind man to conclude that she was at least 8 months pregnant!
Dec 16th, 2000, 03:39 PM
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Not to disagree with others, but I have been wearing a belly pack to hold my camera lens and a stash of money for several years and have not had a single problem with it.
Dec 17th, 2000, 03:29 AM
Jason Alan Graves
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I am an American who has been living in the theft capital of the world, Naples, Italy for the past year. I think you should be safe with a backpack, or any bag for that matter. You just have to be prudent, and keep an eye out, and always check your things.
Dec 17th, 2000, 08:25 AM
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I guess that I will just use the belly bag (fanny pack for Christina). I don't want to carry anything on my shoulders so a backpack or purse is out.
I have been to the islands in the Caribbean, Mexico and twice to Caracas Venuzuela and used a belly bag each time without a problem. I will just be aware of who is around me. Through this forum, I have learned lots of "ploys" that people use to steal with and I will be aware of them.
Northstar.....what a funny story, I wonder if that will happen to me?
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