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Leave your expensive luggage and bags at home

Imagine you’re a thief prowling the subway lines of Rome, looking for a tourist with a bag full of expensive goodies you could snatch. You spot two people with large bags speaking in English and not paying attention to their surroundings. One has a dingy-looking brown bag with frayed edges and worn fabric, while the other has a shiny new red and black bag with four different compartments and a pretty little Victorinox Swiss Army logo on it. Which one are you going to grab?

While you might think your spiffy designer luggage simply announces you’ve got style and taste, it also says: “My owner has a lot of money and I contain expensive things.” In a lot of places—big cities, towns in developing countries, trains and buses anywhere—that’s as good as an invitation to steal.

That’s why I always travel with my same old suitcases and backpacks, which are sturdily built, but otherwise plain and a bit worn. And when I’m out taking photographs around a city or other crowded public area, my $3,000 camera comes out of its Lowepro camera bag and goes into a plain canvas bag I picked up at some market. Just as it’s best not to proclaim wealth by wearing fancy jewelry, watches, and fur coats, so too would I recommend not packing your things in nice-looking bags. I’d recommend simple designs, neutral matte colors, sturdy fabrics, and no visible designer names. I’ve even bought well-made designer bags and then cut off the logo. I might not look like a fashionista with my bags, but my valuables always come home with me.

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