Security and Anti-Theft Bags

I heard recently that it’s NOT a question of IF your identity will be stolen….it’s a question of WHEN….  I find that fact a little unsettling.  😦

However, my hope is to do all I can to make that ‘when’ NOT when I’m on vacation (i.e.  ‘out of touch’ and difficult to be notified or to take care of it)

I learned of these anti-theft/security bags while planning an upcoming trip out of the country complete with red-eye flights and overnights in busy airports.  I wanted more security than our current bags/backpacks offered – slash-proof, RFID blocking features, etc….

So….here’s what I’ve learned…and what I purchased.

In shopping, I concentrated on the companies of Travelon and PacSafe.  Reviews of both of these companies give them HIGH MARKS – similar in their anti-theft properties.

Anti-theft Technology 

in both of these brands…  🙂

  • Cut Resistant Technology
    • Shoulder straps have cable inside to stop strap slashers.
    • Side and bottom panels have wire mesh inside to stop bag slashers

Travelon LTD Tote   (on my wish list)  🙂

  • Lockdown Hardware
    • Straps can be attached to poles, posts, chairs, etc….
    • Locking zippers prevent pickpockets
  • RFID Blocking Technology:  pockets for credit cards and passports with RFID blocking materials to block ID Thieves.  Thieves can easily purchase chip readers that enable them to simply walk past you… and scan personal information from credit cards/passports INSIDE your purse/wallet…without ever making contact with you or your bag.  Men’s wallets in back hip pockets are especially susceptible.  The RFID blocking material protects your personal information.

And….these bags are actually quite ‘travel’ stylish.  There is a line of leather products, though that was more than I wanted to spend so I opted for the less expensive lines…but that IS available if that’s your preference.   🙂

**Read below for other options on RFID blocking materials (even a way to MAKE YOUR OWN) if these bags, wallets, etc… are not in your budget.  These aren’t necessarily the ‘best’ option….but they will work – if that’s what you need to do. 

 

These two brands  (Travelon and PacSafe )  are comparable in price and security features. Decisions (at least for us) came down to design and usability…I preferred the Travelon bags for myself.  My husband, who prefers to travel with a backpack, chose the PacSafe.  Now….neither of these brands are ‘cheap’….However, some small discounts are out there if you are willing to jump through the necessary hoops.

I began my research on the company websites (and that’s what I recommend…).   That’s where I found the most accurate and reliable information on dimensions, etc…. (As you may know, info on Amazon may or may not be correct) and which bags had the features we each wanted.  Once I knew what bags I was interested in, I went to other sources – Amazon, eBags….and strangely enough, Kohl’s which carries a SMALL inventory of these bags. (Target sells a FEW of their wallets).  Prices really don’t vary much among these sources, but with Kohls coupons/Kohl’s Dollars or discounts with Amazon, there may be some savings.  TJ Maxx and Marshalls also occasionally has a small inventory of Travelon items though I’ve rarely found the bags…and of course, their inventory is constantly changing….

For myself, I was looking at TWO bags – a cross body purse for traveling days or times when we were in crowded public places  AND a carry on for the flights.  My husband was in the market for a backpack.

Purse:  I wanted something cross body, small and lightweight but still large enough to carry wallet, passport, cell phone/cord, and a few personal items.  I found what I wanted in the Travelon Anti-theft Classic Essential Messenger Bag on Amazon.  With discounts/reward points I ended up paying around $25 for it.

 

 

Carry On:  My carry on was a tough decision –

East West Weekender

because I had so many ‘requirements’.  It had to accommodate my laptop and a binder notebook.  I wanted a secured front pocket (locking zipper) for smaller items and an easy access slip pocket for boarding passes, luggage tickets, etc…   I also needed a sleeve on the back to slip over luggage handles once we picked up our checked bags. Finding all of those features – in a bag that was just the right size….took some time…. but I finally found it.  I got the Travelon  Anti-Theft East/West Weekender Tote.  I found it on Amazon though purchased from eBags using reward point earned from buying my husband’s back pack the month before.  I don’t think it’s available on Amazon anymore…and only limited availability on eBags.  Travelon has discontinued it  as their inventory is constantly being updated.  However, with every bag they discontinue, they come up with another ‘better’ one to take it’s place.  ha!!

 

NOTE:  When buying multiple things from eBags, buy the most expensive item first. When the reward points for that purchase post, (30 days later) buy the next most expensive item on your wish list applying that credit…and so on and so on…down your list. Their reward point system is VERY NICE!!!  🙂

BackPack: My husband chose a backpack from PacSafe.  In addition to all the security features, he wanted something with good back structure/support so it wouldn’t hurt his lower back to carry it all day long. It also had to accommodate his DSLR camera and all it’s ‘toys’….  He found what he wanted in the Venturesafe X30 Anti-Theft Adventure Backpack.  This now has a rain cover which wasn’t available when we purchased…and would have really come in handy in Alaska.  Oh well…

 

Having returned from our trip, I can say, these bags were winners in every sense.  We did indeed sleep on long red-eye flights…as well as a little snoozing on a long layover in the airport AFTER that red eye.  Being able to lock pockets and secure our bags to each other AND chairs or posts gave us a little more security…and more ability to relax a bit.

The bags held up beautifully…I fully expect to have them around for years to come.

TESTING RFID

There are multiple YouTube videos  on testing RFID blocking properties.  Here’s what I found on a quick search:  RFID Blocking Testing      Watch a few…but confirm that you’re watching from independent sources and not from a company that’s just promoting their own brand while discrediting their competitors.  Travelon and PacSafe (and a few others) produced successful test results.

 

Now….What if These Products are OUT of Your Budget:  Well, you may not be able to get the ‘slash-proof’ features, but you CAN address the RFID issue for a little less expense.

  1. RFID blocking wallets –  Travelon, PacSafe or ID Stronghold brands tested well.  These will be more expensive than the RFID sleeves…but less than a purse, tote or bag.
  2. RFID Blocking Sleeves:  These can be purchased from Amazon. (and possibly Marshalls or TJMaxx if you happen to catch it just right)  They are sleeves to slide credit cards and/or passports into.  Buyer Beware:  Not all sleeves are the same. Read reviews carefully…with special attention to reviewers who have actually ‘tested them’.  There are sleeves that ‘work’…then there are sleeves that are ‘pretty’….and some reviewers leave you scratching your head when they write reviews saying: “I LOVE my RFID sleeves.  They’re so pretty…all my friends commented that they wanted some too.”    Go figure!!!  *sigh*

 

DIY Test for RFID Blocking:

How can you be SURE these really work?  If you (or someone you know) have a work badge…door badge…or any card that is scanned, place it in the sleeve (or pocket or wallet, etc…) and try to use it.  If you can’t use it, then you know the sleeves (or wallet) is adequately blocking.   OR….you can just trust the reviews on Amazon.  That will work AS LONG AS you’re looking at MULITPLE people saying the same thing.  Of course, Travelon, PacSafe or Identity Stronghold are reputable companies that bring with their name a sense of ‘trust’….  🙂

I actually purchased a pack of sleeves (12 credit card; 4 passport)  for $12 from Amazon.  They’re nothing fancy…nothing pretty, but they do the job.  I was pleased with them and we use them now…since I don’t carry my Travelon purse on a regular basis.

Make Your Own

You CAN make your own RFID blocking sleeves using aluminum foil.  These homemade varieties passed the testing AS LONG AS they were made using THREE sheets of Heavy Duty aluminum foil. Check out YouTube videos for instructions on how to do this (and watch several videos/techniques) to gather the best ideas.    I even found instructions on YouTube for making an RFID blocking wallet.

As you might imagine, these homemade versions are only a TEMPORARY fix…as they can tear easily…and will require care when inserting or removing your credit card…but if an RFID wallet or RFID bag is not in your budget, this CAN be done…

Links:

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10 Things To Do Before Leaving Your Home for Vacation

https://www.flickr.com/photos/96363003@N08/8936742327/sizes/z/

Photo Credit: Estelle Page on Flickr CC Lic

In the middle of vacation excitement, planning, packing etc….  taking a few minutes to run through a few quick checks can relieve a little of your ‘worry’ about your home in your absence.

1  Tell a TRUSTED Neighbor You’ll Be Out of Town.  Someone in the neighborhood should know that your house is empty should there be any emergency or suspicious activity. Give them a way to contact you in addition to your cell phone (hotel phone number??). Your neighbors are your ‘eyes and ears’ while you’re gone.

2.  Suspend Mail and/or Newspaper Delivery:  The US Postal Service will hold mail for up to a month.  We schedule delivery the day AFTER we return so we’ll BE THERE when it arrives. If you take a newspaper, cancel that as well.  Not only does it eliminate the piles of papers in your yard, but it MAY extend your subscription by the number of cancelled days.

Photo Credit: vijairaj           CC Lic.

3.  Make Arrangements For: 

  • Pets. Reserve time at the kennel or secure a pet-sitter. The best kennels fill up quickly during the Summer so begin researching these early. NOTE:  Drop by for an unannounced VISIT to check them out before reserving.
  • Plants:  For just a few houseplants, it may be easier to transport the plants to the friend rather than ask the friend to come to your house. For plants in your yard, find a neighbor child who is either trustworthy…or whose parents are diligent about teaching/requiring responsibility –as they will be the ones ultimately responsible for follow-through. 🙂  I always liked for my adolescent kids to take on tasks like this…  They made a few dollars and it taught important lessons (Yes, we understood OUR {the parents’}  role in it all.  I was ‘ok’ with that as I thought it was good for my kids.)  Another option would be to get an automatic water-er.

4.  Put Lamps and/or TV on a Timer.  This gives the appearance that the house is occupied. If you have two timers, set them at slightly different schedules.  Set family room lights/sound to be on in the early evening and bedroom lights /sound coming on at bedtime to mimic real life patterns.

5. Check Thermostat Settings.  If you have a programmable thermostat, all the better!  Without one, find the happy medium between conserving energy but not going overboard -. Having it too warm in the house is hard on the refrigerator and electronics. Turning it too low in the winter can lead to burst plumbing pipes.

6.  Check:  

  • Faucets, Toilets:  Make sure they aren’t ‘running’ or dripping
  • Electrical and Electronics:  Unplug electrical items that can be unplugged.  Make sure that all electronics are either on a power surge protector or unplugged.
  • Windows. Re-check all the windows…even if you ‘remember’ locking them last week.

7.  Clean out the Refrigerator.  Our last night before vacation is always “leftover night”. Not only does this help with the ‘clean out the refrigerator’ but it’s an easy meal/prep.  After that meal, anything perishable is thrown away or put in the freezer.

8.  Wash all dishes and put them away….Run the dishwasher and unload it.  Even the smallest crumb or food residue on a plate in the dishwasher can attract bugs or ants when your kitchen is uninhabited for a period of time.

9.  Clean out your purse/wallet. We do not travel with ALL of our credit cards or keys. We only take the ones we will need. Not only do I want to lighten the weight of what I’m carrying, but if a wallet/purse were stolen, I don’t want to have to cancel 15 credit cards or replace a Keychain FULL of keys (Car keys are not only a hassle, but VERY expensive to replace).

10.  SOCIAL MEDIA:  

Photo Credit:  CC Lic.  [[File:Socialmedia-pm.png|Socialmedia-pm]]

With social media such an important part of our lives, it’s tempting to begin to feel ‘over-confident’… and advertise an empty home without thinking about it.  It’s BEST to NOT post travel plans to those outside your REAL friend circle.  If you DO choose to share these plans on social media/Facebook, check your privacy settings to confirm that information is ONLY going out to TRUE friends…not a wide array of acquaintances or business contacts.   This becomes even ‘trickier’ if you have kids on these sites…..who have a tendency to think the whole world is their BFF.  A ‘conversation’ may be necessary….  I’m not totally convinced the privacy settings on Facebook are as ‘trustworthy’ as they seem and of course, some social media outlets don’t have any privacy guards at all…..

 

These are all things we know….but I find that when getting ready to leave, things are so busy…hectic…’full’, that it’s easy to forget something.    Having a list to check off takes the pressure off of me to ‘remember’ everything.

Happy Travels!