- Buyer's Guide
Our Favorite Anti-Theft Travel Accessories and Tips
Traveling is so much fun. But having your gear stolen will put a dampener on any trip. So being prepared can go a long way to protecting your stuff, and there are plenty of nifty anti-theft travel accessories to help keep your gear secure whilst gallivanting abroad.
But accessories can only go so far. You still need a little bit of nouse when you’re far-flung and fancy free. A combination of anti-theft accessories and savvy travel behavior will put you in a strong position for avoiding theft. So we’ve rounded up a selection of useful accessories to consider for your next trip, along with handy tips to keep your travel game tight.
We’ll come right out and say it. Padlocks are by no means foolproof. You can gain access to a padlocked zippered bag by puncturing the zipper with a ballpoint pen (and even zipper it shut again so it looks like nobody accessed your bag). A scary thought, but one that’s worth knowing. So what’s the point of using a padlock, you may ask? Well, they are a straightforward and inexpensive deterrent to opportunistic thieves looking for an easy target. If a thief has a choice between a padlocked bag and one without, guess which one they’ll pick? Plus padlocks can be useful for securing items together or to fixed points. Ideally go for a padlock that’s TSA-friendly, which allows airport security to access your luggage without having to break into your case or bag.
This TSA-friendly padlock includes a 4-dial combination lock and comes in a pack of two that won’t break the bank.
These Forge TSA locks feature an Open Alert indicator, so you’ll know if the lock has been opened. Plus there’s a little added peace of mind as the padlock has to be relocked in order for the TSA agent to remove their key, so you don’t need to worry about your case being left unlocked.
Travel can be tough on your luggage, but luggage straps help to keep your case shut and your belongings inside in the event of rough handling or damage to your case. As an added benefit, they can help your case stand out so you can quickly identify it on the baggage carousel.
Available in a choice of colors, this luggage strap includes a built-in address label so you don’t need to add a luggage tag to your case.
This Pacsafe strap features a TSA-accepted 3-dial combination lock, with an indicator light that signifies when it’s been opened. And with Baggage Constrictor technology the strap can’t be loosened once it’s locked.
Neck Pouches and Travel Belts
Neck pouches and travel belts allow you to keep valuables and travel documents close to the body and out of sight, but within easy reach when you need access to the contents. And with features such as RFID-blocking pockets you can enjoy even more security on the go.
Sleek and comfortable to wear, this travel belt includes an adjustable elastic band and won’t stand out underneath your clothing. Useful features include RFID-blocking fabric and two compartments for organizing the likes of cards, cash, a phone, passport and tickets.
Designed to be carried around the neck, this passport holder can be concealed beneath clothing or worn on top for quick access. It features RFID protection, five pockets for organization, and soft string and material against the skin for user comfort.
Designed to hold items such as your passport, boarding pass and ID, this holder enables hands-free carry of your travel essentials while keeping them together and easily accessible.
With its versatile design, this belt can double as a travel belt and a running belt at your destination. A choice of front and back pockets provide convenient storage for the likes of keys, a phone, passport, cards and more.
This low-key travel belt features a zippered neoprene pocket that faces the wearer. The stretchy pocket material can accommodate larger items such as a phone and passport, or alternatively just stash some cash for a more pared-back approach.
Travel wallets are useful for keeping important travel items and documents together and within easy reach. And while the readily available organization can help you avoid misplacing items on the go, additional benefits such as inbuilt RFID protection are also great for combating unseen tech threats.
Functional organization with storage for your passport, tickets, cash and cards makes this a handy option for the journey as well as the destination. Built-in RFID protection keeps your personal details and info safe against RFID skimming, the stylish aesthetics work equally well for business or play, and it even comes with a handy micro pen.
The Carbon Fiber Leather Collection from Wurkin Stiffs features a range of RFID-blocking wallets to suit a variety of carry setups, from a passport wallet to a more minimalist money clip.
This Pacsafe travel organizer combines useful organization with discreet security features. A choice of pockets keep items such as cards, your passport and tickets tidy, while RFIDsafe blocking material protects your personal details. The organizer also includes a Carrysafe slashguard strap that tightens to your wrist in the event the organizer is dropped or grabbed.
This travel wallet offers a host of security features to put your mind at ease, including a slash-resistant shoulder strap and mesh body panels, RFID-blocking storage, and a lockable main compartment.
Portable Safes and Bag Protectors
You can’t always keep an eye on your travel gear 24/7. But accessories such as portable safes and bag protectors can be very helpful in keeping sticky fingers away from your belongings when they’re out of sight. They’re also convenient for storing your valuables in accommodation that doesn’t offer a safe for storage.
A safe that travels where you do? Pacsafe’s Travelsafe GII Portable Safe does just that. The safe includes a TSA-friendly 3-dial combination lock and can be locked to a secure fixture inside your accommodation, on public transport, in a car, on a beach chair or wherever else your travels may lead you. Integrated eXomesh stainless steel wire mesh helps protect against cutting and slashing, and the safe comes in different sizes to suit different loads.
This 4-dial combination lock offers a retractable cable which can be used to lock items together, as well as to lock a bag or other gear to a secure fixture. Handy when you may need to leave items in your accommodation or for catching some shuteye in the airport between flights.
Pacsafe’s Backpack and Bag Protector is a useful item to have on hand when you need to lock and leave your gear. The protector combines an eXomesh cage with a stainless steel locking cable, allowing you to secure a bag to a fixed point while protecting it against slashing and tampering. The protector comes in various sizes to suit different bags and stores compactly for easy portability until needed.
Tracking devices are useful for keeping tabs on your checked luggage when it’s out of sight. But they can also alert you when you become separated from valuables such as your phone or wallet.
Want to know where your checked luggage is? Trakdot is a compact device that can be stored inside your luggage in order to track it using GSM technology. The device can be used to track luggage worldwide, with location notifications sent to your phone.
Tile Mate is a small device that can be attached to valuables like your phone, keys and wallet, or slipped inside a carry-on bag or passport holder. The device uses Bluetooth tracking to help you locate items over short to medium ranges, and Tile’s global network to help locate missing items over longer ranges.
Options such as Trakdot are useful if you already have a bag you like but want tracking capability. However, if you’re not particularly attached to your current gear and fancy a few smart additions to your travels, smart luggage could be the answer. A number of brands have attractive offerings in the smart luggage scene, with useful inbuilt features such as location tracking and proximity alerts so you can keep track of your suitcase.
While neck pouches and travel belts are handy for storing beneath clothing, another option is to stash valuables within clothing items themselves. From underwear to outerwear, a host of useful clothing items are available to help keep travel and EDC essentials safe and secure on the go.
These Speakeasy Briefs feature a zippered pocket on the front for storing anything from your passport to some extra cash. You may have to do an awkward shuffle on the down-low to get at the items – but who’s going to think of looking for your secret stash here?
If you’re keen on the idea of boxer brief security but would prefer a slip pocket to the side, these boxer briefs from Tidal Comfort are an alternative to consider.
A handy option if you’re a fan of the front pocket setup but would prefer one without a zip.
One for the ladies, with a deep front pocket for stashing your valuables.
Clever Travel Companion offers a range of clothing options for men and women such as this Clever Travel Companion Unisex Tank Top that provides discreet pockets for storing your valuables.
Clothing Arts creates travel clothing that caters to both urban and outdoor environments, while thwarting pickpockets with clever pocket designs. Their range includes a variety of men’s and women’s pieces such as these Pick-Pocket Proof® Women’s Travel Pants.
SCOTTEeVEST are adept at packing plenty of pockets into clothing for stashing valuables, while still retaining understated aesthetics that don’t draw unwanted attention. Plus the wide variety of pockets come in handy for storing smaller items while going through airport security. The brand offers a range of pieces to suit women and men, such as the SCOTTeVEST Chloe Hoodie.
1. Don’t pack the precious jewels
Leave expensive jewellery at home (or stored safely in your accommodation until needed). Do you need to wear expensive jewellery or watches while sightseeing? Sometimes it’s nice to dress up for special events or meals out, but you don’t need to be carrying expensive jewellery all the time. Cue the cheap, travel-friendly jewellery. The less attention it draws, the less likely it is to be stolen – and if you are forced to part with it, it won’t sting as much.
2. Look like you know what you’re doing and where you’re going
Stay alert. If you need to check maps, try doing so discreetly if possible rather than advertising to people around you that you don’t know where you are. And if you’re going to tourist hotspots be extra aware – criminals will frequent these places in the hopes of easy pickings. Look out for suspicious distractions such as fights breaking out or strangers trying to be too friendly or get too close to you. Avoiding large crowds can also help. It can sound counter-intuitive on your travels but trying to blend in rather than standing out by looking and acting like a tourist can make a real difference to the safety of your gear.
3. Concealing is key
Try to keep your valuables concealed. If you’re traveling by car, store items out of sight in places such as under the seats, in the trunk or beneath an outer layer if you’re leaving it behind. Carry a camera in your bag until needed – nothing shouts “tourist” like a camera round your neck. Store wallets and phones in a bag or in hard-to-reach clothing pockets (not sticking out of easily accessible back pockets!).
4. Have a decoy wallet at the ready
Use a decoy wallet with a small amount of cash and expired cards in unsafe areas. In the event of a mugging, you can hand over the decoy wallet safe in the knowledge that important cards, ID and the bulk of your cash is stored elsewhere. Using an old, battered-looking wallet can also give off the vibe that you don’t have much worth stealing to begin with.
5. Pick up a cheap phone and/or local SIM card for your travels
Swap out your expensive smartphone for a cheap phone you can use on your travels. A pay-as-you-go SIM card can also help you avoid expensive roaming charges and the hassle that would stem from your regular SIM card being stolen.
6. Separate, it’s safer
Separate cash and cards and store them in different locations. That way, if one gets lost or stolen, you have backup options. You may also find it useful to use a prepaid travel money card that includes theft and fraud protection, and which can help you avoid carrying a lot of cash.
7. Protect your privacy online
Consider using a VPN service on your travels to help keep you secure online and protect your privacy while using public Wi-Fi. Also be aware of privacy issues while using public computers. Try to use private Web browser windows, and don’t authorize any instances of staying signed in to an account or getting the browser to remember your password details. Also remember to clear the browser history when you’re finished. And for added security you may be able to set up 2-step verification (such as a password and a separately sent code) for accessing some accounts. Avoid logging into online banking on public computers, and opt for hard-wired Internet connections over Wi-Fi when available. Plus keep an eye out for a padlock symbol and URLs beginning with https (rather than http) for more security when sending card information online.
8. Keep tech devices password protected
Ensure your tech devices are suitably protected with passwords, pattern locks etc. in case they are stolen or lost. Such measures can help prevent access to important personal information, and will at the very least buy you some time to do damage control like changing email passwords or any other relevant information that may be accessible through your tech. Also do regular backups of anything important (such as work files, photos, phone contact details, etc.) so that if your devices are stolen or lost, you can minimize the loss.
9. Have physical and digital backups of important documents
Make physical and digital copies of important documents such as your passport, travel insurance, driver’s license, etc. Digital copies can be stored on a USB drive as well as emailed to yourself and stored in cloud storage such as Dropbox or Google Drive for easy access.
10. Locals know best
It’s always a good idea to get local advice on where to go, places to avoid and things to be aware of. From taxi drivers and accommodation staff, to bartenders, restaurant staff and local residents, if you’re polite and friendly you can benefit from a wealth of insider information. However, it’s also important to do your research before visiting a particular destination. See what people are saying about it online – again, you’ll be able to benefit from the experience of fellow travelers and locals who know the score.
11. Pack your travel insurance
Prep for the best outcome but cover yourself for the worst with travel insurance. You might not end up needing it. Awesome. But if your gear does get stolen, you’ll be glad you got it. You can tailor the level of cover to suit different trips if you wish. Also be aware that health insurance can end up saving you a lot of money if you need emergency medical care on your travels. On a related health note, if you require vaccinations make sure you get them in advance, and if you require medication bring your own supply rather than presuming you’ll be able to get it at your destination.
12. Consider hard-sided luggage and carry-on only
If you need to check in bags, consider using hard-sided cases without zippers. Not only do you avoid the pen/puncture weakness, but they’ll also provide greater protection for the contents than soft-sided bags when it comes to bumps and scrapes. And if you’re up for the challenge, you can try using carry-on bags only. There’s no need to check in, which saves time and hassle and also means your bag can stay with you (and is less likely to get tampered with).
13. Scope out bags with inbuilt security
Look for bags with inbuilt security! We’ve kept the focus here on accessories, but brands like Pacsafe and Travelon offer a variety of bags with convenient features such as slashguards and zipper pull security.
14. Have a pat-down-pockets routine
Be aware of what items are in your pockets (such as a phone, wallet, passport, tickets or keys) and check they’re still there every time your environment changes. From walking out your accommodation or getting off public transport, to leaving a restaurant or bar, checking all your important items are on your person is a good way to avoid accidentally leaving something behind. It’s also good to use packing lists so you can check off items before checking out.
15. Keep your bag as secure as possible
Items such as cable locks are great for securing your bag in place and making it less appealing to thieves. But even simple measures like wrapping a shoulder strap around your arm or around a chair leg while you’re sitting down can help avoid opportunistic snatching. Plus wearing bags on the front of your body (whether messengers, backpacks, waist bags or shoulder bags) makes it easier to keep an eye on them, especially in crowded spaces. And if you can lock zippers with a padlock, cable ties or even pipe cleaners, you’ll make stealing your gear even less of an attractive prospect.
16. Share your itinerary with friends and family
This is a useful habit to get into particularly if you’re traveling alone, but also if you’re traveling with others. Let friends or family know roughly where you’ll be during your travels, and try to set up a system of regular updates so they know you’re okay.
17. Be aware of potential thieves on bikes/motorbikes
If you’re walking close to the road and not paying attention, an experienced thief may be able to snatch your phone out of your hands or a bag off your shoulder before making a quick getaway on a motorbike (or even a bicycle or scooter). Face towards oncoming traffic and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Got any great tips or suggestions? Share them in the comments and give fellow travelers a helping hand. 🙂
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