Last year, when traveling through Brussels to London, my parents and sister were approached in a train station by a man asking for directions. As they are friendly, they tried to help. Since they are all seasoned travelers, they held on to their bags and felt quite secure. What they didn't realize was that this man was distracting them while another man helped himself to the contents of my sister's bag. He stole her iPad, iPhone, money, credit cards, and worst... her passport. Days later, hours of spending time waiting in lines at the police station and US Embassy, she was issued a temporary passport. The police told them they were lucky the thieves weren't caught in the act, as they often will violently attack their victims in order to get away. Train stations are perfect targets for unsuspecting travelers.
After this incident, and before we went to Rome, I ordered an anti-theft cross-body bag to secure our items as we traveled. It's an awesome bag with RFID protection, chainmail under the fabric so that it's slash-proof, wire through the handles so that it's cut-proof, and all the zippers lock. Bonus for me, it was inexpensive and has a ton of pockets and hidey-holes for all my mom stuff.
I bought the bag from Amazon, however it's made by Travelon. They make all kinds of great bags for travel. I love this bag, I loan it to friends when they travel, and the only thing I wish it had was a collapsible water bottle holder on the side. Travelon has never heard of me, so I tell you about this bag because I love it, not because I'm being paid.
In this bag, I can easily carry:
- Four passports (in the pocket against my body)
- My iPhone
- a pack of tissues
- anti-bacterial wet wipes
- ID, credit cards, and cash
- a pen
- a map or event tickets
- AirBNB apartment keys
- snacks for my loons
- Envirosaks or some other kind of magic bags that fold down very small and become full size when you, ahem, buy something.
- gloves for three people
- I am a huge proponent of hand-holding with my kids. I keep them close at all times.
- I also keep photo copies of my passport in my purse, NEVER the real things, unless we are going through the airport or across a border.
- US Passports already have RFID protection in the covers, so if you don't have RFID sleeves or a protective purse, you can slip your credit cards unto your passport. Bam! Safe.
- When it's cold out, and you are wearing a coat, wear your purse under your coat. When on a train or in a busy area, simply zip up your coat.
- We never use in-room safes. Sometimes I keep money or iPads in our luggage lining that unzips.
- Ask your bank about getting a Chip & Pin card before going overseas. They are much more secure, and lots of places in Europe won't let you use the old style ones anyway.
- Trust your gut. We humans are equipped with awesome detectors that ding in our heads when something is amiss. Trust your gut and trust your kids guts. If they seem wary, there is usually a reason.
- Don't forget. If you get robbed, it's just stuff. Don't let it ruin your vacation.