Tuesday Travel Tools: Anti-Theft Bag / Travelon Purse

What is an Anti Theft Handbag / Travelon Purse?

There’s a ton of theftproof bags/slashproof purses on the market, but they usually share a few key features in common:

  1. steel mesh lining (to prevent would-be thefts from cutting into your bag and stealing anything out of it)
  2. steel-lined strap (to prevent bag-grabbers from cutting your strap)
  3. lockable/complicated zippers (to prevent wannabe pickpockets) **this is my must-have feature**

I have two favorite brands that sell a variety of shapes/sizes/styles in these theftproof bags: Travelon and Pacsafe.

Of the borderline-ridiculous number of slashproof, theft-preventative day bags and purses I’ve tried, I have one clear favorite that I’ll be using as an example today: the Travelon Cross-Body Bucket Bag (in the photo above).

I have the black bag with teal lining (of course!) but there’s 25 different color combos at the time of this publication.

Why I recommend an Anti Theft Handbag / Travelon Purse

3 Day 2 Night Tour in Salar de Uyuni Bolivia Salt Flats
that’s my anti-theft bag unobtrusively on my right hip, letting me concentrate on taking a photo

Once I switched to an anti theft bag for traveling, I never looked back.

1. Durability

Because good anti theft handbags are built with steel mesh, they’re sturdier and more durable than a typical flimsy purse or daybag. I use mine as my “personal” item on the plane, and I pack it to the brim, as full as possible with my Kindle, phone, camera, GoPro, a notebook, wallet, and a million little random things like lip balm and lavender essential oil.

A less sturdy handbag would have bitten the dust long ago, but my anti theft crossbody bag is still going strong!

2. Style

I need to admit first and foremost: I’m not the most stylish traveler (or person, in general), so don’t take your style tips from me. That being said, there are so many different styles of antitheft handbags to choose from that you are SURE to find something that suits your personal style (Pacsafe, in particular, has more “handbag-looking” options, like this one).

3. Peace of mind

When I’m out roaming a new city, the last thing on my mind is clinging to my bag and preventing pickpockets. I love that I can secure the little theftproof zippers with their clasps to keep wayward fingers from poking around, and that even a knife-wielding bag-cutter has nothing on me.

4. Utility

Of course, this will depend on the actual bag you get, but all of the Travelon and Pacsafe bags I’ve tried (including the crossbody bucket bag I’m using now) are packed with utilitarian details, like lots of pockets for organization, an RFID-blocking sleeve, and even a little quarter-sized click light. Most of the bags are also easy to clean and water-resistant.

5. Guarantee

The two brands I’ve recommended, Travelon and Pacsafe, have incredible guarantees on their products. With Travelon, the inner lining of my first cross-body bucket bag ripped open after I’d been using it daily for about a year, leaving a gaping hole to the innards of the bag. It didn’t prevent me from using the bag, but it was annoying (I was constantly losing pens and coins to the inner lining). When I let Travelon know (and sent them some photos), they sent me a brand-new and improved bag, all the way to Mexico… for free!

Tips for Traveling with an Anti Theft Handbag / Travelon Purse

Quito Tour Bus
behind me, to the right: my antitheft Travelon crossbody bag

Choose the size and style that fits your lifestyle.

My first anti-theft bag was a theftproof “waist pack” designed to be worn as a fanny pack that I lengthened and wore as a crossbody sling. It fit my camera, my phone, and my wallet perfectly: but nothing else. I don’t know why I did this, as I know that when I travel I like to bring my Kindle and a notebook and pen with me everywhere. I still use this bag (for long walks and hikes with my dog, and when I go on long runs), but it’s not my first choice for travel.

Use the features!

The old adage “use it or lose it!” applies when it comes to these anti theft bags. If you don’t use the anti theft and pickpocket-proof features, it won’t work! Always clasp your zippers to “lock” your bag, wear the bags across your body (to prevent someone from sliding it off your shoulder).


Because this bag will probably go everywhere with you (from under the airline seat in front of you to resting on the seat of a tuktuk to on the floor of your hotel/hostel room), it’s going to pick up a ton of bacteria. Don’t forget to spray it (especially the bottom) with some antibacterial spray or natural antibacterial oil like tea tree to regularly disinfect it.

Downsides of an Anti Theft Handbag / Travelon Purse

Stephanie Kempker Edri in Mexico City
my Travelon bucket bug in Mexico City (I’m multitasking: eating ice cream, petting a dog, and preventing theft!)


Compared to a similar handbag, an anti-theft handbag definitely costs a bit more. Most slashproof, pickpocket-preventing bags run from around $30 (for a small bag) up to over $100.

Still, I’d recommend the purchase as an investment. My bags have lasted for years (aside from the one fluke with the lining that ripped out, which was replaced by the company); way longer than comparable similar handbags that aren’t theftproof.


Because of the metal mesh in the body of the bag and the strap, anti theft handbags do weigh more than their non-theftproof counterparts. For example, my empty, go-to crossbody bags weighs 15 ounces. This isn’t horrible, by any means, but it is just a bit heavier than a “regular” bag.


I’m not a big fan of the slightly slippery, slightly shiny material that most anti-theft handbags use. I know it’s water resistant and easy to clean, but I wish there were more fabric choices.

Other Options for an Anti Theft Bag

Hiking in Chiapas, Mexico
the black strap on my left shoulder is my Travelon purse BUT I wished I had a backpack for this hike

Anti-theft backpack

If you’re not into handbags, you still have anti-theft options. There are some really cool anti-theft backpacks on the market (my favorites are from Pacsafe), from full-on travel bags down to smaller day packs.

Money belt

If you don’t like to carry a bag and only worry about your money, going with a low-key money belt is a great (and super cheap) option.

Bra clip

Go even more hidden than a money belt, and check out a bra wallet clip. This isn’t the option I go for, as I don’t want to dig around in my cleavage any time I need to pay for something.

Pin it for Later: Why You Need an Anti Theft Handbag for Traveling

How to prevent pickpockets while traveling: use an anti-theft, slash proof handbag! Here's why you need one, and how to choose the best anti-theft handbag for you!

Are you into reading while you traveling? Do you go with “old school” books or do you have a Kindle, too?


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook

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