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Don’t let the fear of pickpockets in Europe stop you from having a blast at your dream destination. With these tools and some preparation and vigilance, you’ll be sure to have a memorable and safe time!
Pickpockets in Europe: How to Stay Safe
Table Of Contents
Travel Fashion Help! A reader asks:
I haven’t traveled to Europe in ages, and my husband and I just booked a trip to London and Paris. I’m trying to be sensible about what I bring; I’m reading a ton about keeping valuables close, but also to buy bags that are slashproof to keep it safe from pickpockets in Europe. Do you have any safety advice for how to avoid pickpockets in Paris and London?
If you have never visited London or Paris before or thought about safety in Italy, then you might find yourself overwhelmed with the crowded streets and busy metro lines.
As with many major cities, the most common problem for tourists (or locals) is theft. In fact, pickpocketing in Europe is at an all-time high, with cities in Spain topping the list. Besides making sure you’re always aware of your surroundings, you also can take certain packing precautions when traveling Europe or other parts of the world.
We asked TFG readers for their top tips on how to prevent pickpocketing in Europe. This is what they came up with.
Pickpocket Proof Bag: Anti-Theft Purse
As you sightsee and travel in Europe, you will need to carry cash and credit cards, your phone, maybe a camera, too. One of our favorite ways to avoid pickpockets in Europe is with an anti theft purse.
These bags come in different shapes, sizes, and styles, so you are sure to find the perfect one for you!
Best Pickpocket Proof Bag: Travelon
Travelon makes TFG’s favorite pickpocket safe purses, and we love this classic messenger bag. When it comes to finding the perfect pickpocket proof bags, you’re going to want to go with a trusted designer like Travelon.
The Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Messenger Bag has all the components of what you’re looking for in a purse if you’re worried about how to protect from pickpockets in Europe: it’s a cross-body bag that’s slashproof, has locking compartments, and RFID-blocking card and passport slots. Best of all, it looks like your average purse, meaning it doesn’t stand out!
Looking for the perfect anti theft bag for you? Take a look at our round-up of the best anti-theft travel bags for women!
Why are Crossbody Bags Great For Anti Theft?
Crossbody bags are the best way to prevent pickpockets in Europe because they allow you to keep an eye on your valuables. While crossbodies are purses that are hard to pickpocket, make sure to keep them in front of you at all times when you’re out and about. That way, you’ll be able to see your valuables, no matter where you are!
The Travelon Classic Mini is another great bag for when you’re looking for how to prevent pickpockets in Europe. Its convertible strap means that it can be either a crossbody or a shoulder bag, plus the strap can be attached to a post or a chair!
Follow these tips if you are pickpocketed while traveling!
If you’re walking along the side of a road with your pickpocket proof bag, make sure you’ve placed the purse on the other side of your body — away from traffic. Having your bag on the opposite side of the road can help prevent roadside thefts.
If you’re not a huge fan of the synthetic bags built by Travelon, you could instead go with a leather crossbody bag. It will help you to both protect your valuables and look stylish!
The sling bag is another popular style that readers love, as they’re worn close to the body and are always in sight. Travelon’s sling bag is a favorite that readers have used to successfully deter Paris pickpockets, Barcelona pickpockets, Rome pickpockets, and more!
Read more about why female travelers love cross body purses for travel!
How to Prevent Pickpockets: Use a Slash-Proof Bag
If you’re in a popular tourist area, chances are it will be crowded. This makes it an ideal hunting ground for pickpockets!
One of the ways European pickpockets do their best work is by slashing or cutting a bag open. If you’re surrounded by a large group of people, this can be done quickly and without immediate notice. And by the time you do notice, your belongings are long gone!
Enter slash-proof bags!
Read my review of the Travelon crossbody bag!
Slash-proof bags come in various sizes and styles, including shoulder bags, messenger bags, backpacks, and crossbody bags. They all add an important layer of security to ease your mind when traveling through Europe.
The straps of slash-proof bags often have mesh metal built into them. Plus, most come with RFID blocking pockets that help prevent pickpockets from scanning your passport or credit cards!
Don’t carry your passport with you when sightseeing! Lock it in your accommodation!
Choosing a bag with sturdy, slash-proof material is one of the best methods of preventing pickpockets in Europe.
In addition to the Travelon anti-theft purses, TFG readers also recommend PacSafe slash-proof bags when asked about how to not get pickpocketed, because they perform super well and last for years! If you’re more inclined to use a backpack, Travelon also makes a pickpocket proof backpack.
Read my review of a packable Travelon backpack!
How to Carry Cash in Europe
Getting yourself the right purse isn’t the only precaution that you can take for avoiding pickpockets in Europe. You also can get an anti pickpocket wallet!
Hide Your Cash with a Secret Bra Wallet
Our most recommended alternative to a money belt is a secret bra wallet, which is the perfect anti theft device to keep your valuables safe. A secret bra stash attaches to your bra to keep small personal items safe, such as extra money, credit cards, or a hotel key.
When you go to the ATM machine, store the majority of your money in the secret wallet and place only the amount of money you’ll need for the day in your regular wallet.
Prevent Pickpockets with a Neck Wallet
If you’re wondering how to protect your wallet from pickpockets, a great way is to wear it around your neck! Neck pouches or neck wallets are perfect to hold your passport, credit cards, and cash when you’re out and about, taking in more touristy sights. These anti pickpocket devices will help you keep things away from pickpockets in any European destination.
And for those days when you’re actively traveling (like those days spent on flights or trains) and need to carry all of your valuables, keeping everything under your clothes with a neck wallet is a seamless way to keep things safe throughout your journey.
TFG has a great roundup of our favorite neck wallets, plus some tips and tricks for the most effective ways to use them!
Traditional Anti Pickpocketing Wallet
While a neck wallet is a great anti-theft device, it won’t give you easy access to your items. Instead, you can keep a small amount of cash in a wrist wallet.
With a wrist wallet, you won’t have to pull out your neck wallet in public areas. You should never access any of your under-clothing anti-theft products in public, or in front of anyone. Pulling it out means alerting pickpockets to the fact that it’s there, which defeats the purpose of hiding your valuables under your clothing!
While it’s highly recommended that you keep your passport safely locked away at your accommodation, if you do need to have it on you, an RFID passport wallet is a good option to keep it extra safe. Keep it zipped up in the most secure pocket of your bag!
Watch this video to learn 10 anti-theft travel tips!
Other Anti Theft Products
Beyond purses and wallets, there are a few other great anti theft products that can help you keep your money and other valuables safe while you’re abroad (or even at home)!
A money belt is essentially a smaller, more secret fanny pack that you hide in front of your body, under your shirt. It can hold your money, credit cards, and even your phone!
If you’re looking for clothing designed to protect your belongings, our readers share their recommendations for concealed pocket clothing!
Travel underwear is perfect for avoiding pickpockets in Europe. These clever anti theft devices have secret pockets for cards, money, hotel keys, and other valuables. Some readers have also mentioned using anti-theft clothing from SCOTTeVEST, like this highly rated rain jacket that has a whopping 19 hidden pockets! They also sell a chic trench coat with 20 hidden pockets and a light cardigan that has 4 hidden pockets.
A scarf with secret pockets is awesome for hiding some of your more lightweight travel essentials, plus it adds a cute and comfy element to your outfit!
Lock Your Luggage
It’s definitely worth it to invest in luggage that has lockable zippers, like the reader-favorite Samsonite Omni PC. This is super important if you’re going to be in a busy or touristy area with your suitcase, traveling on trains and buses, and even at your accommodation.
If your suitcase doesn’t lock, you should take the extra step of securing the zipper of your bag with a small padlock. Try to find something small and subtle. Having an obvious padlock on your backpack or bag could serve to make you more of a target!
These locks are never a guarantee, but they definitely help to prevent opportunistic theft. Here at TFG, we recommend that you only buy a suitcase that has lockable zippers or a built-in locking system.
Please read my top ten tried and tested anti-theft travel tips for more information on how to properly use these items!
Product Comparison Chart
|BRAND | MODEL||FEATURES | REVIEWS||RATING | PRICE|
|Pickpocket Proof Bag: Anti-Theft Purse|
|Travelon Anti Theft Classic Messenger Bag||It’s a cross-body bag that’s slashproof, has locking compartments, and RFID-blocking card and passport slots.||Check Price|
|Travelon Anti Theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag||Its convertible strap means that it can be either a crossbody or a shoulder bag, plus the strap can be attached to a post or a chair!||Check Price|
|Travelon Anti Theft Cross Body Bag||If you’re walking along the side of a road with your pickpocket proof bag, make sure you’ve placed the purse on the other side of your body — away from traffic.||Check Price|
|Lo & Sons Pearl Crossbody Bag||If you’re not a huge fan of the synthetic bags built by Travelon, you could instead go with a leather crossbody bag. It will help you to both protect your valuables and look stylish!||Check Price|
|Travelon Anti Theft Signature 3 Compartment Crossbody||One of the ways European pickpockets do their best work is by slashing or cutting a bag open. If you’re surrounded by a large group of people, this can be done quickly and without immediate notice.||Check Price|
|Pacsafe Metrosafe LS250 Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag||The straps of slash-proof bags often have mesh metal built into them. Plus, most come with RFID blocking pockets that help prevent pickpockets from scanning your passport or credit cards!||Check Price|
|Travelon Anti-theft Purse Backpack||Choosing a bag with sturdy, slash-proof material is one of the best methods of preventing pickpockets in Europe.||Check Price|
|How to Carry Cash in Europe|
|Compass Rose RFID Secret Bra Wallet (similar)||Our most recommended alternative to a money belt is a secret bra wallet, which is the perfect anti theft device to keep your valuables safe.||Check Price|
|Travel Neck Pouch with RFID Blocking||Neck pouches or neck wallets are perfect to hold your passport, credit cards, and cash when you’re out and about, taking in more touristy sights.||Check Price|
|Travelon RFID Blocking Double Zip Wallet||An RFID passport wallet is a good option to keep it extra safe. Keep it zipped up in the most secure pocket of your bag!||Check Price|
|Travelon Hidden Waist Pouch||A money belt is essentially a smaller, more secret fanny pack that you hide in front of your body, under your shirt. It can hold your money, credit cards, and even your phone!||Check Price|
|Other Anti Theft Products|
|SCOTTeVEST Penny Winter Rain Coat||Some readers have also mentioned using anti-theft clothing from SCOTTeVEST, like this highly rated rain jacket that has a whopping 19 hidden pockets!||Check Price|
|Samsonite Omni PC International Carry On||It’s definitely worth it to invest in luggage that has lockable zippers, like the reader-favorite Samsonite Omni PC.||Check Price|
|TSA Luggage Padlock||These locks are never a guarantee, but they definitely help to prevent opportunistic theft. Here at TFG, we recommend that you only buy a suitcase that has lockable zippers or a built-in locking system.||Check Price|
|Pacsafe Travelsafe Portable Safe||If there’s no safe at your accommodation, a lot of readers highly suggest bringing your own portable safe that you can lock to a stationary object in your room.||Check Price|
|LONGCHAMP 'Le Pliage||When asked how to avoid pickpocketing in Rome and other Italian cities, a lot of readers suggest combining anti-theft accessories with chic bags like this Longchamp to blend in.||Check Price|
|Travelon Anti-Theft Convertible Waistpack||At TFG, we highly recommend a money belt over a fanny pack because they are smaller and built to be hidden. But fanny packs (or waist packs) can also help prevent pickpocket incidents in Europe.||Check Price|
Watch this video for more tips on how to keep your stuff safe while traveling.
More Important Information to Prevent Pickpockets in Europe
Best Way to Avoid Pickpockets: Leave Valuables
No valuables, no problem! The one way to ensure any precious items will be safe from pickpockets in Europe is by not taking them with you on your trip! Some TFG readers even opt to leave their engagement or wedding rings at home for fear of losing them, forgetting them in their hotel room, or simply not wanting to attract any unwanted attention with their bling.
Another option is to keep your valuables and passport locked away in your hotel room when you’re out sightseeing. Make sure to leave, at the very least, one ATM card in the safe with your passport, so in a worst-case scenario, you still have access to your ID and money. If there’s no safe at your accommodation, a lot of readers highly suggest bringing your own portable safe that you can lock to a stationary object in your room.
It’s important to split up your cash and cards, too. The cash you need for the day should go inside your purse (preferably a pickpocket proof bag). Then stash additional “emergency” cash and credit cards in anti-theft items such as the bra stash. Everything else (including your passport) should stay safely tucked away inside your hotel safe, a portable safe, or your locked suitcase.
Hotel Safe Tip: Check your hotel safe as soon as you get into your room. If you have any issues with it throughout your trip, tell the hotel immediately.
Look Like a Local: Try Not to Stand Out
While locals aren’t immune from pickpockets in Europe, most pickpockets in Europe do tend to target tourists more often. You can avoid unwanted attention by steering away from overly touristy places. Plus, you’ll want to make sure your anti theft devices aren’t obviously anti theft, because locals wouldn’t carry an “anti-theft bag.” Carrying a normal-looking purse will help you blend in.
Also, most locals probably wouldn’t walk around with an outdoor backpack in the middle of the city. We love using backpacks to explore cities, but choose a cute pickpocket safe backpack that offers the convenience of a traditional backpack without making you stand out like a sore thumb. When asked how to avoid pickpocketing in Rome and other Italian cities, a lot of readers suggest combining anti-theft accessories with chic bags like this Longchamp to blend in.
Learn to Pack Light Stylishly with my e-book!
Be Vigilant to Avoid Pickpockets
Ensure you’re extra vigilant on the metro and while walking on crowded, tourist-packed streets. No matter how distracted you get, do not lose sight of your belongings!
Refer to our packing lists so you can bring the right clothes and dress appropriately for the city style, weather, and your activities!
Are Fanny Packs Safe in Europe?
At TFG, we highly recommend a money belt over a fanny pack because they are smaller and built to be hidden. But fanny packs (or waist packs) can also help prevent pickpocket incidents in Europe.
If you want a hands-free option for your travels and go with a fanny pack, make sure you wear the back in front of you. Wearing it behind you will make it easier for Europe pickpockets. Travelon makes an anti theft fanny pack that is slash proof and has locking pockets.
What Destinations Should I Bring My Anti Theft Bag To?
While we know there tend to be issues with pick pocketing in Europe, you should really make sure you have anti pickpocket devices with you on all of your travels. It’s better to be safe than sorry! These tips for how to stop pickpockets in Europe can apply to all kinds of destinations!
Do you have any tips on how to avoid pickpockets in Europe? Please share in the comments!
For more Europe-related articles, please read:
- 10 Step Packing Guide for Europe
- 10 Step Packing Guide for Italy
- 10 Step Packing Guide for a trip to Paris and Italy
- How to Choose the Best Walking Shoes for Europe
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