tips women avoid pickpockets hand in purse

10 tips for women to avoid pickpockets

by Larissa on August 6, 2016

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Unlike strategies for men carrying wallets, here are my favorite tips for women to avoid pickpockets. I’ve seen all sorts of wacky gadgets for protecting valuables, including the mind-boggling “bra stash,” which must be uncomfortable (not to mention awkward when purchasing souvenirs). But with common sense and a few simple strategies you can keep your valuables safe.

Tips for women to avoid pickpockets

  1. Keep it simple: I use a simple basic purse suited for travel. Bags by PacSafe offer many clever safety features to foil would-be thieves and are my favorite traveling purse. However, even a thief-proof bag can be stolen from a distracted tourist so always be aware of your surroundings.Pascal city bag-Perfect for avoiding pickpockets while traveling
  2. Ditch the big wallet: Only bring the few credit cards you might use on vacation, along with some ID. Wallets full of store credit cards and other home-based necessities add useless bulk while traveling and are a nice chunky target for pickpockets.
  3. Use a bag with a zippered closure: Never carry a bag with a simple snap or flap closure. It’s too easy for prying hands to slip inside. And remember to keep that zipper closed.
  4. Or better yet, clip your purse shut: Thanks to Debra in Philadelphia who suggested this tip. She uses a paper clip to lock her zipper tag to the metal loop thats holds the shoulder strap, creating an additional barrier to entry.
  5. Never put your bag down: Even at a nice restaurant bags can disappear. (It happened to me years ago.) I keep mine slung over my shoulder and in my lap (another reason for the small size), or loop it around my leg when I place it on the floor.women pickpocket banner
  6. Wear your bag crosswise: Bags simply slung over the shoulder or carried by the handle make it easy for purse-snatchers to grab and go. Backpack-style bags are a ready target for slash-and-grab. Get a bag with a long strap that will fit comfortably crosswise across your torso, resting on the front of your hip. In busy areas keep your hand on the bag.
  7. Don’t get pickpocketed electronically: New credit cards with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) can be scanned while still in your pocket. Purchase cheap RFID sleeves to slide your cards into and foil electronic pickpockets.
  8. Forget designer names: You might like Tory Burch bags, but so do thieves. High-end purses also send a signal to robbers that you’re a worthwhile target. Keep Tory at home :)
  9. Keep it small: It’s easier (and more comfortable) to guard a small bag than something big and bulky. I use a separate tote or daypack to hold water, guidebooks, etc.
  10. Planes, trains and automobiles: Anytime you’re in transit the odds are increased of being pickpocketed. A friend of ours was dealing with a stubborn turnstile in the Paris Metro when she noticed a man reaching into her purse. Fluent in French, she yanked her purse away and chastised him. Train stations and airports are likely places to be flustered over a connection. It’s easy to place your purse on a seat next to you without watching it carefully. No matter what mode of transportation (even taxis) make sure your wallet doesn’t slide out–another reason for that zippered closure!

These strategies soon become second nature, allowing you to enjoy your vacation without constantly worrying about your valuables.


Like it? Share it . . . Pin it!Ten tips women can use to avoid pickpockets while traveling--and in everyday life!

Please provide any suggestions from your travels below. Here’s Michael’s guide for how men can avoid pickpockets. And here’s our cautionary tale about encountering pickpockets on the Buenos Aires subway.

28581550060_131210d7e7_mLarissa and Michael Milne are your typical middle-aged couple from Philadelphia who’ve been traveling the world full-time since 2011, seeking off-beat, historic and tasty sights. To receive our free quarterly newsletter with updates and valuable travel tips subscribe here.

Please note: There are links to Amazon and other companies on this blog to purchase items, most of which are travel related. We earn a very small commission on these sales and it does not affect your price for the item. These small commissions are one way we can continue this blog and provide readers with valuable free travel advice.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew August 9, 2015 at 5:55 am

good tips!

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Larissa September 1, 2015 at 10:17 am

Yep, unfortunately some of them were learned the hard way :( . . . but forewarned is forearmed!

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Wandering Educators August 10, 2015 at 8:30 am

Excellent tips – esp the paperclip!

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Larissa September 1, 2015 at 10:17 am

Agreed Jessie!

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Izy Berry August 11, 2015 at 2:23 pm

Great tips!! this is so important years ago i was in greece with some family and friends , and one on my friends almost this beautiful purse but one day we in the bus and someone try steal her money , so since that day she give me everything because i had this beautifull small purse that is perfect for any travel

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Larissa September 1, 2015 at 10:18 am

Yes, Izy, a good travel purse will make your vacation so much better!

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Meg Jerrard August 12, 2015 at 9:16 am

Fantastic tips – I think people really underestimate the importance of never leaving their bags unattended, especially when you’re in a restaurant for a casual lunch or afternoon drinks. If I’m putting my bag on the floor in that scenario I always make sure I’m doing something like looping the strap underneath a seat leg or my own leg – that way it’s much less of a target.

And awesome point on the no designers – it’s always best to travel simply and with very plain accessories – no need to draw attention to yourself when you’re in a foreign land!! Thanks for the great tips!

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Larissa September 1, 2015 at 10:19 am

Agreed, Meg. Hassle-free travel and “fashionista” are not a good pair 😉

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Sri & Kian Radojewski September 10, 2015 at 11:25 am

Great tips, thank you for sharing guys

Cheers,
Sri & Kian

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doris March 26, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Unless you’re en route to a royal audience, leave your good label
stuff home. I have been known to pack thrift shop stuff (in decent
taste, mind you) and ONE pair of simple earrings and a plain ol’
Timex. Leave anything you’d be afraid to lose at home, and
you won’t be an attractive target. Truth be told, bringing little
gives you room in your bag for any irresistable goodie to bring
home. Notice, “bag” is singular.

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Michael March 26, 2016 at 9:29 pm

That’s how we travel. Except we don’t buy much. Because we are nomads with no home, we have no place to put it.

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Lynne Flaxman March 26, 2017 at 8:02 am

I just noticed this article but I wanted to add a comment. There is a clothing company that my husband found called Clothing Arts which carries pick pocket proof clothing. He has purchased pants, shorts and a jacket. He loves all of the items. In addition, they travel really well – few wrinkles, wear like iron (stains wash off easily by hand) and look decent enough to wear out to dinner. The reason I am mentioning this in an article about tips for women is they also offer women’s clothing. I need to get some items for myself!

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Michael March 26, 2017 at 9:17 am

Because I wear those pickpocket proof pants, we talk about Clothing Arts products in our guide for men to avoid pickpockets here: http://www.changesinlongitude.com/tips-men-avoid-pickpockets/

But you’re right, they make a line of clothing for women too.

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