Here at TPG, we aren’t fearmongers. We steadfastly believe that travel brings the world just a little bit closer together.
That being said, we do get a lot of questions about how to thwart pickpockets in popular vacation destinations around the world. No matter what big city you may visit — here in the U.S. or beyond — someone may want to part you from your wallet, cellphone, passport or other valuables. Don’t make it easy!
With one of the busiest summer travel seasons upon us, be aware of your surroundings and select a few travel accessories that will give you an extra layer of protection — and peace of mind — as you travel the globe.
Here are several TPG-approved anti-theft crossbody bags, backpacks and accessories to slow down and stop thieves from taking your personal items.
Security experts say that crossbody handbags are a good bet since you can easily keep an eye on your belongings. With these bags, your items are safely secured to the front of you or your side via bag straps that go all the way around your body. The design is both practical and comfortable, stopping passersby from yanking your bag off your shoulder or out of your hand as you’re out and about for hours on end.
To find the right crossbody bag for protecting your items, look for a bag that has a wire threaded through the straps (so they can’t easily be cut) and a steel mesh liner between layers of fabric (so the bag is slash-proof). Pockets that block radio-frequency identification, which scammers can use to access your credit cards, passport and other forms of ID, are also a must. Locking zippers are essential, too, as they make it harder for someone to quickly retrieve items stored inside.
While several brands make anti-theft bags, popular manufacturers include Travelon and Pacsafe. Both of these companies prioritize quality, appearance and functionality when producing their bags.
This particular Travelon bag is a solid option for frequent travelers, as it’s compact enough to fit the essentials without adding bulk. I’ve had it for about a year now and really like it for specific uses: transiting through an airport when I’m also wearing a backpack, visiting a museum where larger bags are not permitted, heading to dinner and going on a half-day tour that doesn’t require lugging bigger items.
While this bag, which measures 8.5 inches by 7 inches by 2 inches, can fit the items I always have on me — two pairs of glasses, my iPhone, a Vera Bradley ID/card wallet, two passports, keys, a pen and a pill case — it won’t accommodate much more. Still, it has all the important anti-theft features to look for, including slash-proof steel mesh sandwiched between the fabric layers, a locking main compartment zipper and a cut-proof, wire-reinforced strap that has a locking carabiner so you can thread your bag through a post, chair or table leg to prevent someone from snatching it while passing by.
On the outside, you’ll find a front flap with a magnetic snap closure. I usually stash any sightseeing tickets or papers I need in there so they’re easy to access. Behind the front flap sits a slip-in pocket that comfortably fits an iPhone. There’s also a zippered back pocket that’s ideal for storing a few dollars so you don’t need to unlock and access your wallet inside when buying a drink or something small.
Inside the bag, you’ll notice a main compartment with three RFID-blocking credit card slots and a passport pocket. Additionally, there are an internal zippered pocket and an attached key ring loop with an LED. The latter comes in handy for securing items like my pill case.
If appearance is important to you, odds are you’ll appreciate that this bag is available in four colors. Choose from neutral hues like black, smoke (dark gray) and sable (tan), or go for a deep pop of color with the ocean (navy blue) option.
At 8 inches by 10.5 inches by 2 inches, this bag is a little roomier than its sister bag, the Travelon Anti-Theft Signature Quilted Slim Pouch. Like the Signature Quilted Slim Pouch, the Classic Small East/West Crossbody doesn’t have any side pockets to store water bottles or umbrellas. However, its wider design makes it possible to store select miniature umbrellas inside.
This bag has all the same anti-theft features previously mentioned. There are locking zippered pockets on the front and back, plus a main compartment (also with a locking zipper) that has RFID-blocking credit card slots and a passport pocket. The interior also has a pocket for a phone and a tethered key ring with an LED.
Those who love bolder colors will like that this Travelon option comes in a few nontraditional hues, including spruce (deep green), purple and midnight (dark blue). Neutrals like black and nutmeg (brown) are available as well. If you prefer a textured fabric, opt for the quilted version in the wine rose, geo sunflower or painted floral pattern.
If you’re looking for a large bag with two zippered, mesh side pockets that can comfortably fit water bottles, umbrellas or sunglasses, the Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Messenger could be the right pick. It has all the same anti-theft features noted in the above bags but in a more spacious design.
Measuring 12.5 inches by 9 inches by 3.5 inches, this larger option from Travelon has a magnetic flap closure in the front that hides a locking zippered pocket. There’s also a back pocket with a locking zipper closure that reveals four RFID-blocking credit card slots, a larger slot, a pen loop and a removable key clip with an LED when opened. Four wall pockets and an additional pen loop are tucked within the main compartment.
Color options range from solids like black, midnight blue and nutmeg to patterns like black with white stripes, black with white flowers and AV stripe (multicolor).
Pacsafe says it’s the original anti-theft bag brand, and all its products — including the Metrosafe LS200 Anti-Theft Crossbody Bag — come to the table with all the features you seek. Security details include a cut-proof strap with a TurnNLock security hook so you can attach the bag to a chair or table for additional protection, a slash-resistant lightweight steel mesh layer, RFID-blocking pockets and locking zippers.
While the high price tag is a drawback, most reviewers love this bag, especially its locking zippers. Pacsafe’s locking zippers are widely considered the safest in the business, as they don’t unfasten as easily as those from Travelon (which act more like clips). If you’re nimble with good dexterity, this shouldn’t be a problem, though the extra effort required to open the zippers may make them difficult for those with arthritis or other hand-related health issues.
Featuring Econyl regenerated nylon, a product made from recycled materials like fishing nets and plastics found in the ocean, this bag is a great environmentally friendly option for those who need to store various items on the go.
Measuring 11.4 inches by 9.3 inches by 2.8 inches, the bag comes with a handle at the top for easy grabbing, as well as a wide shoulder strap, a zippered back pocket and two side pockets with snaps for smaller water bottles, umbrellas or sunglasses. Inside, you’ll find an RFID-blocking zippered pocket and a padded sleeve for storing an 11-inch tablet.
Color options are limited, but both are ideal for coordinating with various outfits. You can choose between black and ocean blue.
Anti-theft backpacks have many of the same attributes that the best anti-theft crossbody bags have: cut-proof straps, slash-resistant fabric, RFID-blocking pockets and secure zippers. The main difference between the two is that the backpack design keeps your items safely stored on your back instead of in front of you or on your side.
There are many brands that offer travel backpacks, but Nomatic, Baggallini and Travelon stand out when it comes to anti-theft backpacks. These traveler-approved manufacturers take great strides to ensure the backpacks they offer are not only harder to steal but also stylish, well made and practical.
If you’re more concerned with keeping your things safe during airport, train or bus transit, consider the water-resistant Nomatic Travel Pack. Available in 14- and 20-liter sizes that weigh 3.5 pounds and 4.2 pounds, respectively, this bag has backpack-style straps, handles similar to those on carry-on bags and luggage trolley sleeves.
Unlike most backpacks, the Nomatic Travel Pack opens like a traditional carry-on for easy packing. It also has a backpack-style zippered pocket on the front with plenty of interior pockets, including a lockable RFID-blocking security pocket, multiple mesh zipper pockets and a notebook pocket. The side pockets are large enough to fit bottles up to 3.5 inches in diameter.
Noteworthy details include the zipper expansion feature, which lets you add up to 10 liters of extra space so you can fit souvenirs and other items you pick up during your travels, and the hidden back pocket, which is capable of fitting a 16-inch laptop. There are cord pass-through holes in each compartment, too, so you can charge your devices or easily access your wired earbuds.
Whether you choose the smaller 14-liter bag (which is 17.5 inches by 11 inches by 5.5 inches, making it small enough to pass as a personal item on airplanes) or the larger 20-liter bag (which measures 18.5 inches by 12 inches by 6 inches), know that there is only one color available: black.
This backpack from Baggallini acts more like a purse than a traditional backpack you use for storing everything you own, as it only measures 13 inches by 10 inches by 3.5 inches. But if you don’t mind the smaller capacity that may not fit your laptop, odds are you’ll like this fashionable alternative to standard anti-theft backpacks.
Safety features include slash-resistant panels, cable-reinforced straps, sleek locking zippers on the front pockets and an RFID-blocking pocket for credit cards. The back of the bag features another zippered pocket that opens to reveal four more credit card slots and two interior zippered pockets. There are also two side pockets designed for water bottles, umbrellas and other items.
Made with a lightweight, water-resistant material, the Securtex Anti-Theft Vacation Backpack is one of the lightest options available, weighing only 1.1 pounds.
As for colors, you’ll have several options that go beyond the standard shade of black commonly found on travel bags. In addition to black, you can purchase the bag in charcoal, pacific (deep blue), ruby red or portobello (beige/brown). Two dark prints — black cheetah and midnight blossom — are available as well.
Few backpacks come with a wide zippered pocket at the top like the one you’ll have with this Travelon bag. From a bird’s-eye perspective, it lets you easily see what’s in the bag while it’s standing upright.
The zippered front pocket is spacious, revealing a pocket for your phone, a tethered key ring clip with an LED, and RFID-blocking pockets for three credit cards and a passport or two. When unzipped, the front pouch gussets extend so you can pack thicker items like a pocket-size guidebook in there as well.
The main part of the bag has a section for an iPad or tablet, plus a second larger compartment and a small open pocket. One side has a pocket for a water bottle or umbrella, while the other has a zipper compartment that reveals a mesh pocket.
Like Travelon’s crossbody bags, this backpack has adjustable straps that are cut-proof. Additionally, every compartment is lockable and all four sides feature slash-resistant mesh lining, adding extra layers of security while you’re traveling with your bag.
Available colors are similar to what you’ll find for other Travelon bags, too. You’ll have three solid choices — black, midnight and nutmeg — in addition to prints like black with white flowers, black with white stripes and geo tile.
For some, a crossbody bag or backpack will suffice for travels near and far. However, traveling with smaller anti-theft accessories like money belts and neck wallets may be the way to go when you have a lot of items in tow. These accessories let you safely store credit cards, cash, passports and more beneath your clothes so pickpockets can’t grab them on the fly.
You’ll find various brands selling anti-theft accessories, but some of the most popular manufacturers include Alpha Keeper, Venture 4th and Zero Grid. Travelers favor these brands due to their safety features, high quality and comfortable, breathable designs.
This Alpha Keeper money belt works great for various vacations, especially ones that include visits to places that require checking larger bags before entering, such as museums. It’s a hassle-free option for meals, too, as you can dine out without having to constantly keep an eye on a purse or wallet.
Despite the product description saying the money belt fits waists from 25 to 45 inches, it actually stretches to 55 inches, making it a terrific option for all kinds of travelers, including those who are plus size. If your shirt isn’t long enough to fully cover the money belt, you can wear it outside your clothes or tucked into your pants.
The wallet, which is 10.7 inches by 5.3 inches, is made of ripstop nylon and a triple layer of fabric that blocks RFID. It has two zippered compartments on the front, the smaller of which is ideal for storing a few credit cards, cash or sightseeing tickets; behind the larger pocket, you can fit three passports, a smartphone, additional credit cards, cash and more. There is also a breathable mesh back pocket, though keep in mind that this pocket does not block RFID.
Designed for both men and women, Alpha Keeper’s money belt is available in four neutral colors: black, brown, beige and gray.
If you don’t like the idea of wearing a money belt under your clothes, a neck wallet is another option. Just load it with your valuables before placing it around your neck. To keep it from dangling and flopping as you move from point A to point B, tuck it inside your clothes.
Venture 4th’s version of a neck wallet has several features that make it ideal for safely storing your travel documents, credit cards and cash. The pouch, which measures 8 inches by 5.5 inches, is made of lightweight ripstop nylon material, and the front has a clear window where you can place your ID, your travel insurance card or another small document. Two vertical zippered pockets on the front are good places to stash your earbuds, tickets or other small items.
At the top is a velcro flap that hides two larger compartments: one that’s just the right size for your phone and another that can fit passports, money and other documents. The exterior back panel is made from breathable mesh fabric.
One downside to this neck wallet is that the strap is not cut-proof. However, it is made from a soft material with a toggle to adjust its length, giving you the flexibility to tweak where it sits so it’s fully hidden under your clothes.
Available colors are all neutrals, though you’ll find more options than other brands offer. Pick from black, pure black, beige, brown, gray, green, navy blue and silver.
Not all money belts are designed for frequent use. If you’re more concerned with hiding important items like spare cash or an emergency credit card, then this option from Zero Grid may work well for you.
Measuring 38 inches by 1.5 inches, this travel security belt has a zippered compartment that’s hidden inside the belt. To access its contents, you need to take it off to expose the pocket.
Because of the narrow design, you can’t use this twist on a traditional money belt to store wider items like passports. However, it could work well for a photocopy of your passport; you’ll just need to fold the photocopy first so it fits. The same is true for any cash you wish to hide within it.
This belt is approved by the Transportation Security Administration, meaning you can wear it while transiting through airports. Some reviewers were particularly impressed with the fact that it didn’t set off the alarm when they were going through airport scanners.
Note that this belt only comes in one color: black. Perhaps the lack of different hues is a good thing, as the standard black color prevents the belt from sticking out while it’s being worn.