by Alexandra Canedo

No one tries to look like a tourist when they travel. They are just dressing for comfort and, often, security. As women, we need a bag to carry our daily essentials. And as travelers, we need one that is safe and convenient. But as members of Tango Diva, we need one that’s stylish too!

We’ve found some great finds based on security and style, but the most important tool in avoiding theft is knowing that it can happen to you.

According to the Spanish newspaper, La Vanguardia, in Barcelona, there is an average of 315 thefts daily. However, money or items valued below $300 are not reported in police statistics. Acknowledging that you are a possible target, no matter how much you travel, will help you stay on your toes. While some of these tips may seem common knowledge, they are easily forgettable when enjoying a latte in the park, or gushing over a beautiful find while shopping (i.e. while distracted!).

Don’t carry so much during the day!

The lighter, the better. And the less you have to lose at the hands of a pickpocket. Do you really need your credit card, debit card, AND wad of cash? Hotels provide safes for your advantage! Leave as much as you can in them. Also, leave your room key at the front desk. It may seem like a hassle, but it’s better than having to completely relocate!


I am a strong believer in the zipper. Clasps and buttons can easily be flicked up without notice, and belted styles are such a hassle to get open. Zippers are easy for you but harder for thieves.

Leather or reinforced material

Some pickpockets carry tiny switchblades than can easily cut through cotton and other such fabrics. They will quickly slice away your shoulder strap or bottom of your bag and run off with the goods! Trust me, it really does happen.

Know where your bag is!

You’re thinking, “No duh!” But pickpockets are pros and know how to distract you. They can easily find an opportune moment to take a bag right off your shoulder (which is why I prefer cross-body bags). Crowded buses and metros are pickpocket heaven because you don’t know if someone is merely bumping into you or has their hand in your bag. Hold the bag in your arms!

Don’t keep anything in your outside purse pockets.

Some purses have pockets on the outside: another perfect target for pickpockets! Keep everything in the main pocket.

Keep valuables in INSIDE zippered pockets

Many purses have pockets on the inside. Use these to keep valuables (cash, cards) safe. It takes a lot more effort to get inside those pockets. If there’s more than one inside pocket, keep cash and card separate, that way, if one gets stolen you aren’t without money.

Blend in.

This is easier in certain countries, such as Europe, than others, but when you can, look up the local fashion before. Typically, residents are stylishly dressed to the season. Certain shorts, flips flops, and sweatshirts are signals that you’re a tourist. If you dress confidently, pickpockets are less likely to mess with you. Now, many countries are a blend of ethnicities, so unless you dress the part, your physical features won’t give you away.

Don’t confront a pickpocket.

Most pickpockets won’t harm you as they go for your valuables, but if confronted they are more than willing to fight you off. I saw a man confront a woman who stole his money on the metro. She kept hitting him, yelling as if he was attacking her. No one had any idea what was going on until she ran off at the next stop and he yelled that she was the one who stole from him. Many tourist areas have police walking around. Get to them as quick as possible and alert them of the thief. Sometimes it helps, sometimes you are stuck without your goods. Either way, it’s not worth getting hurt over.

Some of our trendy, travel picks:

Skipper Shoulder Pouch by LUG

This small purse is ideal for days you are carrying the essentials (think sightseeing and day trips). The Skipper Shoulder Pouch comes in a variety of colors and contains three separate compartments. Size: 7.5″w x 8.5″h x 1.5″d Price: $28

TANGO DIVA OFFER: Buy for 15% off using the promo code TANGODIVA until August 6, 2010!

The Changer Tote by Meray Arnett

We love how the Changer Tote offers variety. Wear it as a shoulder bag, or switch to a cross-body bag when you need it! The straps and bottom are made of leather making this purse extra secure. It comes in 8 different colors and a Large and Small version. Size: Large – 13″ H x 16″ W x 5″D, 10″ Price: Large – $155

TANGO DIVA OFFER: Buy for 20% off using the promo code MERAYDIVA

VaultPro Small OnTour Tote by Magellan

Magellan specializes in security purses for travelers, and we really like the weave design of this purse. Features include a steel cable-reinforced shoulder strap, steel mesh panel, locking zipper to help prevent theft, contrast lining, and a detachable LED light for easy identification of contents. The OnTour Tote is it’s own discreet fortress, ideal for “pickpocket capitals”, like Barcelona or Rome. Size: 10 x 10 x 3″; 12 oz, Price: $59.50

Iris Shopper by The Sak

The Iris Shopper is another convertible-style purse with shoulder straps and detachable cross-body straps. It comes in 10 different colors and is 90% leather. The metallic silver is perfect for day-to-night use! Size: 11″L x 3.5″W x 10″H, Price: $53.40 – 89 (select colors on sale now!) *Also comes in a Large Hobo design.

Aruba Convertible Tote by Elliott Lucca

With Aruba in the name, this convertible tote is destined for travel! Features 100% leather and a removable strap in four different colors. This purse is sleek and sophisticated. You will easily blend in with the local fashionistas! Size: 14.25″L x 5″W x 12.5″H, Price: $148