Monday, August 17, 2009

Stay Safe, Stay Stylish

You've heard the horror stories. Tourists in Barcelona being knifed for all their belongings, a man accosted by street urchins in Milan and having his passport nicked from inside his front pocket, a woman on the night train from Prague to Warsaw, having her money belt removed from her while she slept.

Makes you wonder how on Earth you really can keep your important documents safe while traveling.

Well, money belts are a good start. They are a hell of a lot better than keeping important items in your purse, backpack or wallet. But one of the problems with them is that thieves now know where to look. They know you've got one around your waist or on on your belt.

The second problem with money belts is the fact that they are just plain ugly.

When I travel I try hard not to look like a tourist and the first step towards that is to stay fashionable. Look good, wear clothes that you would wear at home, don't fall into the tourist trap and start wearing baggy shorts with big pockets.

And don't have a money belt rising out of your low-riding jeans or sticking up under your clingy dress.

Have this instead:

This is a leg wallet from Cactus Creek. It follows the same principle as the money belt, only it fits around different places on your leg. It's adjustable with comfy velcro straps, so you can wear it on you calf if wearing pants; your knee if wearing a skirt or your thigh if wearing shorts. Best of all, it's got special fabric that wicks sweat away, it's sleek so it doesn't show under clothes, and it's comfortable, so that you forget you are even wearing it. Leg wallets aren't the first thing that is going to pop into a pontential criminal's mind, so it's safe and it's big enough to keep a few credit cards, extra money, plane tickets and your passport.

I wore it for three months straight and it was a lifesaver. Even when I was paranoid about my bags being rifled through or my purse being stolen, I knew that everything I really needed was on my leg and out of sight.

Like I said before, the number one tip to avoiding being a victim of crime and getting a better cultural experience is to blend in with the locals.

Which means, NO FANNY PACKS.

Seriously. Don't do it. They are ugly, so "soccer mom" and an easy peasy target for thieves. Why don't you just wear an American Flag shirt and sandals with socks while you are at it?

"But I don't want to carry around a regular purse. I might get robbed."

Sure. But you carry around a regular purse in your own home city, right? What makes you think you are going to be targeted in Amsterdam? Oh right. The Fanny Pack or Day-Packs. Look around the people in your home city. It's easy to spot the tourist, isn't it? That's why the criminals are going after them and not you.

But I understand that while traveling you don't have the securities of home and are more likely to be carrying items that are irreplaceble.

The solution? The leg wallet, which I posted about below, and a bag that not only looks stylish but will make you feel more secure.

Messenger bags are in at the moment and you can get them anywhere (Old Navy, H&M, etc). Look for ones with a thicker strap so it doesn't put too much pressure on your shoulders (and doesn't cause that ugly line of seperation on your chest). Make sure you wear it across your chest, with the front of the bag facing forward, close to your hands for safe keeping. This way, your bag is less likely to get pick-pocketed and by wearing it across your chest, it becomes hard for someone to run past you and gab your bag (without dragging you along with it). Most messenger bags come complete with lots of secure pockets too and are quite roomy, so they make excellent companions for traveling.

Best of all, a messenger bag doesn't scream tourist. And if you buy the right one, it may just say "Ooh, la la. Je suis Parisian."


Ah. That's better

6 said they wanna go too:

Blogger Len wanderlusted...

Well, "blending in with the locals" is easier said than done, depending on where you travel. In big cities it's not a problem, but try blending in in India or in a smaller town in Eastern Europe.

I agree that you should avoid the image of the typical tourist with baggy pants and fanny pack, but for example, I just came back from Bulgaria where even my boyfriend (who is Bulgarian) was often considered a tourist. Hitting the exact style of a country is not easy at all, unless you spend a day observing the locals and then go shopping there.

12:52 AM  
Blogger TheGlamorousEccentric wanderlusted...

This had some great tips. I rely on messenger bags always!

3:50 PM  
Blogger TheGlamorousEccentric wanderlusted...

This had some great tips. I rely on messenger bags always!

3:50 PM  
Blogger Wanderlusting wanderlusted...

Len - yeah well I stand out pretty much everywhere, but if I went to India or the Middle East or Africa, I'd probably stay uber conservative and keep a headscarf on me at all times. And die my hair dark. No, I would still look like a tourist but I would feel more comfortable.

My point is...well, don't look like a tourist if you can help it!

4:00 PM  
Blogger Len wanderlusted...

Yeah, I wore a headscarf in India and it helps A LOT. It was hell without!

2:57 AM  
Blogger PorkStar wanderlusted...

I'm off to Europe next week and that is a great advice. Now where to get it here in the US is a bit of a problem specially since I'm leaving in a few days.

Thanks for the advice.

7:07 PM  

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