Like you, I’ve received some invitations to pick up and go travel to visit some family and friends this summer, and like you, the stresses of life and a difficult economy have made me NEED a vacation more than ever.
Traveling, and the security issues have changed so much since the Patriot Act and ensuing directives that security issues are a hurdle to consider all by themselves.
America is getting more like Europe every day, where the people have compromised with their governments to have a ‘friendly fascism’ and agree to any and every security measure that the government can dream up. While I was there, it always astonished me how many details I had to remember, how many security gauntlets I had to go through, how uncomfortably INTRUSIVE it all was.
Now, we have all this and more in America. It is a true change. One big difference is that here, these measures are not so ‘friendly.’
In spite of all these fascistic measures, used by the government to ‘protect’ the people, it still did nothing to protect the people from a very serious scourge- pickpocketing!
I thought I was well-prepared for this well-known problem in Paris, I had travelers checks, duplicates of my passport and ID, credit cards. I had a bag that seemed to me to be difficult to get into, I kept my bag where I could see it, kept my attention on it.
On the bus from La Defense on the way to the Louvre, though, just before an interim stop, a young man, preparing to get off the bus came close to me. I felt NOTHING, my bag seemed alright, but I JUST KNEW. I looked at him with… an intense look and he was SHOCKED. He zipped out that door as soon as it slid open and ran so fast….
I got situated and looked into my bag and, yes! Everything was gone. Money, ID, credit cards, traveler’s checks. Bureaucracy of ANY kind in Europe is simply torturous. It took ALL DAY to deal with what I lost. I’m STILL waiting for my traveler’s checks to be reimbursed. Talk about a blot on a trip to the City of Lights! It ruined more than one day, I can tell you!
As that European Spirit of ‘friendly fascism’ descends on America, and rumors of pickpocketing and other crimes in America grow, like purses snatched from church pews and restaurant seats; identity theft, and so on, traveling now takes on a whole new character.
Traveling comfortably, lightly, with easily manageable things are important skills to hone. Now, though, to ignore your personal security is to leave yourself wide open for crime.
I’ve looked long and hard for a purse/ travel bag that would really take care of the security problem. This may or may not be important to you, but it has become increasingly so for me. I’ve looked and looked for good travel accessories- a purse, a backpack, an overnight bag, etc. that really did address my security concerns. I found one that I want to share with you.
pacsafe has made these bags, lightweight, with certain security features that are really useful. My pickpocket managed to get the top of my bag open without even letting me know something was wrong- these bags have secured zippers and clasps that are IMPOSSIBLE to open without notice.
So many times I heard other tourists complaining that someone just used a razor knife to cut their strap and BANG, the bag was GONE. pacsafe has put cabling in their bag’s straps- TWO cables- which means someone would actually have to have large wire cutters to get through both, spaced as they are. The body of the bag cannot be slashed to create an opening, either, because there is an ‘exomesh’ that cannot be cut but that moves and shifts with your bag and protects your contents. It has anchor clips, and you can use your cable straps and anchor clips to secure your bag to your restaurant chair, your belt, or someplace sturdy in the event you will be distracted for a few minutes.
By the way, I earn no money for this. Many of my readers seem to be on the ‘same page’ as I am on so many things, I thought I would share this important preparation for my summer with you.
The bag I have is attractive enough- not a designer ‘to die for’ bag, but it is presentable, if you’re not wearing pearls, but for a more casual look it is just fine. It is light to carry, (my coach bags weigh a ton), and it has all the organizing bells and whistles that are standard fare in any bag.
One thing that it seems to me is missing, though, and that is an RFID cloaking pocket for passports and identification cards. Now with the new chips going into the passports and the driver’s licenses, no matter what the RFID manufacturer’s say, criminals like those pickpockets, who make it their career to find ways to steal from people, will be concentrating very heavily on getting RFID readers and they will be USING them. They may already have them. This is a NEW vulnerability that is being completely ignored or denied, but I say it is an even greater danger than a pickpocket getting a few hundred bucks.
This is the trouble with travel now. The government fears what WE will do to IT, and it cares nothing for what it does to us, how miserable travel has become, how humiliating to go through a search that only convicted felons have had to undergo in previous years, or how vulnerable it makes us.