My daypack is free, doesn’t attract thieves, and is recycleable

A dumpy shopping bag. Never had anyone try to snatch one. Sometimes I pair with a local newspaper. Plenty of countries I will never blend in, but shopping bag plus newspaper at least looks like expat rather than tourist target. Sometimes if I am in a showy mood I carry a durable, flexible Target bag in hometown pride.


And how to carry a sweating, cold water bottle? Double bag and use the middle layer.

Spills are easy to deal with, just get a new bag.

Traditional daypacks have their place out in nature but are a flashing “rob me” sign in urban areas.

If you have too much stuff for a shopping bag for a day of city sightseeing, then it is time to slim down. Sharp objects can pose a problem but can be tucked inside something else.

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  • Gene

    Great tip! Thanks.

  • Free is free. Great advice on how to avoid becoming a target because of a bag.

  • glu800

    Great advice! I always feel wary about carrying a backpack around in large cities.

  • jason

    now this is what I call stupid.

  • @jason – care to elaborate with your recommendation?

  • I recently used an ABC store bag as a purse while in Honolulu for the night. I was on a mileage run and only packed a rollaboard and a backpack. It was the perfect cheap fast fix and I blended in perfectly!

  • Wendy

    I use a reusable freezer tote as my shopping bag when travelling. It will keep my water or bottles of soda cold for me. Is not heavy and it looks like I went shopping for a few groceries for lunch or dinner. It has zipper to keep everything corralled. A newspaper stickng out of it looks like you are a local not a tourist.

  • @Wendy – that’s a great idea!

  • Craig

    Hi Stefan,

    What cities were you especially concerned about being targeted for theft?

  • @Craig – it has been my longstanding practice so I don’t discriminate, most major cities have sticky fingers roaming major tourist areas, so I default to this mode. I happened to think to post while in Brazil because there does seem to be high risk in major tourist areas. At one street-side restaurant the waiter scolded me for putting my sunglasses on the tableside near to the street and sure enough minutes later a kid came by begging for money, reaching over the low fence. That said, I have had no issues in Brazil and what I hear about the risk is anecdotal.

    Europe, for example, I have spent little time in but I hear lots of reports of thefts in a number of popular countries.

  • this is actually great advice. My mother-in-law asked me to accompany her to the bank in Buenos Aires as she needed to withdraw u$d10,000 for a real estate transaction so I assumed I was the distraction bait but she put the money in a small chocolate (havanna) bag and walked on the street with it. Her logic was a thief would ask for her purse or money belt so the moral of the story is – carry yer wares where nobody cares ..or would expect them to be..

  • Tisha

    Its always an option. =) However, if you see my purse then you’ll realize why the bags never last and just gives me “plastic burn” on my hands after a while….

  • Funny but useful advice. What if you want to go hands free. Do you have a convertible plastic bag? 🙂
    If I carry a backpack around while traveling, I’ll wear it in front of me in crowded areas.

  • I have tended to do this, I admit. The other thing I tend to do, if carrying a map around and constantly using it, is to hold it inside a local newspaper.