b1797620001Safety is always a concern when I travel and in addition to be physically safe, I’d really rather hold onto my cute purse and all its valuable contents. I recently received some travel tips from Krav Maga Worldwide, which trains and certifies instructors in self defense, and it contained a tip contrary to what I’d always heard.

“Don’t wear your purse so that the strap crosses your body. Wearing a purse strap across your body makes you more connected to your bag. If someone tries to steal your purse, you will be pulled with the strap. You can become unbalanced and put into a vulnerable position or you could end up in a physical altercation with the assailant. If your purse is draped on one shoulder you can easily let go of it.”

When I read this, it made sense. But I’d always heard the opposite – wear it diagonally across your chest and hold onto it. So what’s a purse-lovin’ girl on the go to do?

I’m taking the approach that the best thing to do, besides keeping a death grip on my purse, is to avoid making myself a target in the first place and follow some common sense tips when out in public. If a thief really wants my purse, they could slit the strap, slit it from the bottom or somehow jostle me and grab it.

To avoid calling attention to myself, I don’t travel in urban areas or countries prone to crime with any jewelry. I leave my good stuff at home. That goes for my nice leather handbags, too. I opt for my Longchamps bags, which are lightweight and durable, and don’t really call attention to themselves.

I try to always be aware of my surroundings and read up on the latest scams in the cities where I’m traveling. I don’t talk with strangers and would be immediately on alert if someone jostles me or as happened in Paris, approached us telling us we’d dropped a gold ring. Nice try, buddy. 

I do this all the time, but it's not the safest place for a purse. It's out of your sight and a thief could easily lift it.
I do this all the time, but it’s not the safest place for a purse. It’s out of your sight and a thief could easily lift it.

Here are a few other tips for keeping your purse safe, from Bobarno.com

  • Never hang your purse on the back of a chair in a public place, where it’s out of your sight. Keep it on your lap. If you must put it on the floor, tuck the strap under your thigh, or at least put the chair leg through it.
  • Be sure your purse is in front of you as you enter revolving doors, board trains, etc.
  • Never leave your purse in a shopping cart or baby stroller. Don’t leave it at your restaurant table while you go to the buffet.
  • Never set your purse down in a shop so you can turn your attention elsewhere. (Number one bag theft venue: shoe stores!)
  • In a public restroom, loop your bag’s strap around the hook and keep your eye on the bag. Dropped coins in the stall beside you could be a distraction ruse.
  • To prevent a drive-by bag snatch, walk far from the curb, on the side of the street towards traffic.
  • Don’t be fooled at outdoor cafes, where the space is bordered by potted plants. Thieves can reach in between the plants and grab your bag.
  • If your bag is snatched, let it go. It may be impossible to fight the instinct to hold on, but try to ingrain that thought. You can get seriously hurt in a bag snatch.

Just remember the song from “Frozen” and just “Let it go.”


Jan Schroder is an award-winning writer based in Atlanta. She works as the managing editor and web editor of Travelgirl magazine and writes a weekly travel column for The Atlanta 100. Jan is appearing on the radio on “Belinda Skelton’s Atlanta Living” on WSB as a travel correspondent and also contributes to Belinda’s website. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers.

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