Here’s a chance to win a Mini Messenger Bag from boutique bag firm Tucker & Bloom!  More on the contest in a moment; first, a quick rundown on Tucker & Bloom.

Based in Nashville, Tucker & Bloom is a small company that offers a line of funky and stylish variations on the messenger bag theme.  Produced in small batches and utilizing high quality – and in certain cases, very unique – materials, T&B bags command hefty prices.  These bags are truly hand made and are quite distinctive; I should also note that all Tucker & Bloom bags are made in the U.S.

The Mini Messenger is just that – a smallish, 8 x 8 x 3″ two compartment bag – that’s equally suited to urban commandos and busy travelers.

The front compartment features a large flap and one of the most beautiful latches I’ve ever seen on a messenger bag.  It’s an aluminum side release buckle that has remarkable heft and a very positive, satisfying action.  The Tucker & Bloom logo is laser etched on the buckle; if it’s possible for a lowly buckle to be elegant, this one pulls it off.

Behind the front compartment is a zippered compartment that measures 7½ x 7 x 2½” and which features a single zipper.  Both compartments feature a high visibility orange fabric interior.  A couple of pen slots are located on one end, and a cell phone compartment on the other.  Here’s a shot of the bag from the Tucker & Bloom site which will give you a further idea of the bag’s size:

Note that this version is further distinguished by “hair-on leather” trim (cow hide that has been tanned with the hair still on).  All of the Tucker & Bloom bags come in a variety of colors, and most offer this hair-on leather option.   The sample I’m giving away, by the way, is basic black.

A shoulder strap is included, of course, and boasts more good looking hardware;  note the orange Tucker & Bloom logo imprinted on a rubberized accent piece, a nice touch:

This bag normally lists for $150, although I should point out that if you sign up for the firm’s e-newsletter, you’ll receive a discount code worth 25% off all purchases.  You can see all the distinctive Tucker & Bloom bags at the firm’s website:  Tucker & Bloom

This pricing may be moot, however, because you can win a Tucker & Bloom Mini Messenger.  How, you ask?  Do I need to write a 500 word essay?  Watch reruns of Tool Academy on VH1 for 3 days straight?  French kiss Larry King?  Nothing quite so distasteful!

All you need to do is comment on this post, and offer your single best tip for staying safe and secure (however you define that!) while traveling.

An example:

If you’re concerned about pilferage while your bag is stored in the overhead and don’t feel like spending $7-$8 for TSA (or other) locks, simply buy several black (or other color) split key rings – use them to secure the sliders on pockets with double zippers.  They’re discreet and won’t call attention to themselves (unlike a padlock) yet will keep prying fingers out.

Another:

Women traveling alone, seniors, or anyone else looking for an extra measure of security at night in hotels:  bring along a rubber doorstop, and firmly jam it under your door from the inside when you retire at night – no one will be able to get in.  This is particularly handy if your staying in a budget hotel or a dicey neighborhood.

Now it’s your turn – offer your best safety/security-oriented travel tip…   and a brand new Tucker & Bloom Mini Messenger Bag could be yours.  Judging will be conducted by yours truly, and the winner will be that individual who offers the best (novel, ingenious, helpful…) tip.  Comments must be received by Sunday, April 4th at 6pm Central time, and the winner will be announced on Monday the 5th.  Good luck!!

The Fine Print:  I have no connection to Tucker & Bloom, but the firm did provide a bag for this promotion

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32 Comments on Win a Tucker & Bloom Mini Messenger bag!

  1. Till says:

    Ask for advice from locals which areas to stay out of and what kind of people to watch out for.

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  2. Maria says:

    Walk with confidence, like you know where you are going and what you are doing, head held high. It’s like a vibe to potential thieves etc – “don’t mess with me”

    – even if you look like you are not a native local you can at least look like you know what you are doing / not a “tourist”. Looking meak, pulling out maps at every street corner to almost shout you are lost, looking nervous – really makes one stand out in the wrong way.

    – So postive confidence can make you feel more at ease even if you have to fake it, but gives others the sense that you belong and know what you are doing.

    Cheers!

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  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by KC. KC said: Win a Tucker & Bloom Mini Messenger bag! http://ow.ly/1s4Be #travel #travelbag […]

  4. Sam says:

    Remember that muggers don’t want to be murderers, they just want your money. To that effect, I always carry any cash I have on my person (the day’s money that is, not stuff tucked in a moneybelt) loose in my front pocket and not in a wallet. If I’m ever threatened for my money I’m going to reach into my pocket and fling my cash into the air and creating a small spray of bills. Then I’m going to turn tail and run, once they have the cash, they’ll have no interest in you. Another advantage of this is that you’ll have retained your ID and credit cards since you haven’t relinquished your wallet, just the cash.

    I should note, I use this method when not travelling as well, I think it’s pretty solid advice for life (that was actually given to me by a martial arts instructor).

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  5. Marion says:

    To keep your passport, credit cards and other valuables safe, separate them from the cash you might need each day and secure them in a front pocket with a diaper pin pinned across the top of the pocket. If you are in a “questionable” area or are especially anxious, secure it from the inside, so that the pin can’t be undone without reaching down inside your pants. Diaper pins are designed to stay put in spite of squirming babies, so they will stay closed better than safety pins.

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  6. Michael W. says:

    Carry a “sacrifice” wallet – a couple of expired credit cards, an expired driver’s license some $1’s, $5’s, $10’s, and give it up if mugged. Your passport and real wallet – a very skinny real wallet, should be in a hidden location.

    Don’t be cheap, make sure there is enough money so a mugger is satisfied. It’s your “ransom” from harm, after all.

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    Michael W. Reply:

    BTW the “sacrifice wallet” should also be the wallet you go to when you buy snacks on the street etc. Periodically discreetly replenish the money from a secondary location. A sacrifice wallet only works if someone casing you has seen you using it.

    This applies to pickpockets as well as muggers.

    Loved the tip on the diaper pin attached from INSIDE the waistband (so the pin is invisible on the outside. This is a great way to convert unsecure denim pants into pretty secure pants – at least for the front pockets (where you have double walled, not self walled, pockets).

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  7. Amy says:

    When renting a car, be sure to rent one that is commonly available in the local area you are visiting. While it may be fun to cruise a coastal highway in a sporty convertible, you may not blend in with the local car crowd. Also, see if the rental company can remove any marks that distinguish the vehicle as a rental. The key is not drawing attention to yourself while you drive or your vehicle while it is parked in an attempt to ward off anyone looking to take advantage of an unsuspecting tourist.

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  8. Anthony Kiong says:

    Plan before setting foot @ your location. There are a variety of maps you can use for your route planning. Google map is a good tool. Street view really help me when I planned a trip to japan as the street signs are not very friendly to tourist. With street view I get an idea of how the place look like and where to go from that point.

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  9. Jessie says:

    Research, research, research! Whenever I hit a new place, I like to read up on where I’m going.

    I don’t mean professional travel guides (though those are good, too). I hit Yelp.com and sites like it–anywhere where locals and travelers alike can post comments.

    Reader reviews can provide a really good (and genuine) sense of which neighborhoods are safe–and vice versa.

    Cheers!
    Jessie

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  10. Nate says:

    Staying in a hostel but don’t want to leave your expensive smartphone sitting out charging at night where someone can snatch it? Buy an inexpensive (~$15) USB battery charger and charge that at the hostel during the day while you are sightseeing. At night plug your phone into the battery pack and keep it near you (or even under your pillow) while you sleep and by morning your phone will be ready for another day of exploring.

    [Reply]

    Nate Reply:

    An external USB battery charger also has a number of other benefits:

    1. Can be used to “buffer” your phone from the local power grid, so that it never risks being damaged because of a power surge, if you are traveling in an undeveloped area.
    2. Charges multiple devices.
    3. And of course the obvious: you can use it to keep devices charged while in transit (e.g. airplane) for watching movies, reading ebooks, etc… Really a multi-use battery is a great multi-use device to go along with a smartphone. And as others have pointed out, smartphones are indispensable while traveling: they can backup your travel documents, support skype to avoid international phone charges, email, maps, metro schedule, first-aid reference, language translation, tip calculator, some even have a built-in compass, etc..

    Another tip is to keep your bag or backpack in front of you while traveling in crowded areas where pickpockets are common. Of course a messenger bag (like the Tucker & Bloom) is very easy to swing around to the front. ;)

    Last tip: if you renting a hatchback or minivan and are afraid of theft because there is no trunk (thus your laptop bag, etc… are visible from outside the vehicle), place a small blanket or towel over your bags to keep them hidden.

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  11. Bob says:

    I usually stay in hotels that have either a safe deposit box or a safe in the room. when I venture out into the local areas I only carry cash and a single credit card and leave passport, other credit cards and cash in the safe. I also talk to the concierge or manager on where it is safe to go and what to look out for. I’m not paranoid about safety but I do keep alert and usually have a lot of fun in the not so “clinically clean” areas of the city etc.

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  12. obie says:

    Avoid looking like a tourist. Research the clothing of choice where you will be going. Remember in most countries loud clothing is not the norm, nor is sneakers or baseball caps. If you need to look at a map do it discreetly, not while walking down the street/sidewalk with a look of despair.

    Also learn a few phrases in the local language, greetings and general phrases such as what is, may I, where is. This will get you further than trying to yell loudly and slowly in your native tongue.

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  13. Robyn says:

    I use notebook rings instead of split rings to secure zippers. Quicker and easier on the nails.

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  14. greg says:

    When I’m traveling, I think packing as little as possible goes a long way to keeping me safe and secure. I can keep everything with me and it is much easier to get up and move if things don’t feel right. I look less like a tourist and don’t have to haul all those heavy and expensive things with me when I’m out, or worry when I leave them behind.

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  15. If you are a backpacker traveling with a large backpack, consider also traveling with a small daypack where you will keep all your valuables and flashpacker gadgets. Never stow this bag under or on top of a bus. It should always be on your lap when traveling.

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  16. Will says:

    Study before going, chat with local when you are there. You will have a slightly higher probability to blend in, and be much safer.

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  17. S says:

    Keep your wits about you, there is nothing worse than wandering a city you are not familiar with when you’re way too drunk. Wallet in front pocket in any large city and most importantly make sure you have a condom on you as you never know what might happen.

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  18. Take as little with you as possible so there’s nothing much to lose; dress as much like the locals as possible; if everyone else is friendly, smile, and if people don’t make eye contact, then ignore them as much as they ignore you; know where you’re going and if you don’t know where you’re going at least look like you do. Last tip, which is not really anything to do with safety etc: take your kids with you, as they are a great intro to the locals.

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  19. Michael W. says:

    Are multiple entries permitted? I hope so…. Anyway here goes:

    Most of us know the drill regarding keeping copies of important documents in a secondary location should we lose our passport or credit cards, but did you know for a nominal fee you can apply for a Passport Card?

    These only cost $20 IIRC if you already have a US Passport, and are intended for use between the US and Canada/Mexico. Sort of a “quickie” passport that doesn’t get stamped and is the size of a credit card or typical driver’s license.

    The best thing about it, is that it is even better than a copy of your passport if you need to replace a lost or stolen passport. Simply present it as your i.d. at the consulate or embassy. Since it is a Department of State document, it should be easier to process than a driver’s license, and more “authentic” to the embassy or consulate since, as we know, some US States have very marginal safeguards for their driver’s licenses as a result of which they are not completely reliable as I.D.

    This is also something you can carry while your regular passport is in your room safe, at least while moving around locally.

    And yes, still keep copies of important documents, although I like the “email a pdf to yourself” trick better than leaving them in un-secure bags, since obviously they could be used for identity theft purposes, even in copy form, if pilfered from an unlocked bag.

    Also be wary of contraband INsertion – I keep my wheelie locked so stuff can’t readily be placed in the bag, so I only have to inspect the outside pockets. I doubt that a smuggler would try to use me as an unwilling courier, but I’d hate to be the victim or a malicious prank or of just plain malice.

    [Reply]

  20. Mark says:

    The absolute best tip is “Be Prepared for the Worst”.

    You should have a back up plan for restoring all valuable and essential things. Examples:

    – Leave photo copies of all important documents in a safe location online (email account, website server, dropbox, etc.) This includes passport, immunization booklet, insurance information, contact information, photos of all claimable items should you need to make an insurance claim, etc.

    – Buy travel insurance. Accidents happen. Thefts and robberies happen. If you have insurance you will be prepared, and will have peace of mind allowing you to travel more freely and confidently.

    – Have mulitiple bank accounts. Designate one account as your travel account. You only carry a bank card for this account when traveling. As the cash in this account gets low, you transfer funds online into it from your main account. This will prepare you in case your travel account gets drained (by a hacked atm, a secuestro express, etc.)

    No matter how much planning or foresight you use, accidents, robberies, etc. can and do happen. And when they happen, it’s often not as you expected. I’ve been through a fair share of them myself. “Be prepared”, hope for the best, and enjoy yourself.

    [Reply]

    Michael W. Reply:

    The second bank account is a good tip. On my second bank account I only have an ATM card, not a debit Visa or Mastercard. That way a PIN is required to do me harm.

    BTW you can’t always avoid PIN skimming by looking for physical modifications to the ATM card slot. Recently a friend got robbed by hackers who inserted softward on a gas stations billing computer. But that is relatively rare, and of course the reason for having a second, smaller account as your petty cash fund.

    [Reply]

    Mark Gillespie Reply:

    That’s where a PayPal ATM card might come in handy, since you can move money between your main account and the PayPal account while traveling (even though it may take a day or two to become available).

    [Reply]

  21. RhileighAlmgren says:

    Remember that the point of security precautions is to increase the chances of having more good experiences. Once you’ve decided on security precautions and implemented them using the excellent tips here and elsewhere, mentally move on. I say this as a habitual perfectionist; sometimes I find myself more engaged by perfecting a system than in taking advantage of that system. Looking back on travel, it’s never the security precautions that are the most memorable, moving, or transformative. The security precautions are crucial, but ideally they should promote peace of mind, not more concerns about security.

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  22. In my opinion, the best way to stay safe while traveling is to minimize your own personal risks. Don’t carry an expensive camera over your shoulder, leave the iPod hidden…and try to look as much like a local as possible. Be subtle about reading maps, look like you know where you’re going, and keep an eye on the people around you. Be prepared to look them right in the eye with a “don’t f*** with me” look if you feel threatened. (Of course, I’m 6’3″ and 240 pounds, so this works for me). Still, assertiveness generally keeps you safe on the road.

    [Reply]

  23. Bill A. says:

    Be observant at all times.

    Blend in. Don’t “look” like a traveler/tourist.

    [Reply]

  24. J. says:

    I think all the comments recommending that a traveler carry minimal funds for a given outing make for solid, practical advice. If you spread your risk incrementally across multiple outings, you guarantee that no single instance of bad luck will hit too hard.

    As for less ‘concrete’ advice, I would suggest not being fazed by the ‘strangeness’ of travel. Sure, the streets might look different and the language sound strange, but a bad vibe is a bad vibe, no matter where you are. Trust your instincts. Be mindful. If a situation feels funny to you, assume it is. Extricate yourself smoothly and quickly to the safety of a crowd. Paranoia can be laughed off, but it’s only paranoia if you’re wrong.

    [Reply]

  25. One more thing…if you still have the “old” US passport that doesn’t have the RFID chip in it…hold out as long as possible before you get a new one. Here’s why…RFID readers are easily available anywhere in the world, and the standard the US insisted on using broadcasts all of your personal information — including your nationality.

    Why is this so bad? Let’s say a really smart terrorist wanted to target Americans specifically with an IED in a trash can, backpack, etc. It’s not that hard to use an RFID reader that can pick up the passport’s signal from 20-30 feet away (unless you use a special wallet that blocks the signal), and program the bomb to only go off when it picks up a signal that identifies a person nearby as an American.

    I’m sorry to be a killjoy, because I really love traveling. However, this is a really dumb move on Washington’s part.

    [Reply]

  26. John C. says:

    My suggestion would be to take out the ear buds and pay attention to your surroundings. Too often I’ll see someone on the metro or walking down the street, oblivious to what’s going on, almost get hit as they are crossing the street. Keeping distraction-free, especially in an unfamiliar location, will help keep you safe and aware and able to respond quickly to potential threats.

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  27. RhileighAlmgren says:

    Eyeglasses cases that open like clam shells are a convenient and innocuous container for valuables, particularly jewelry, which is often otherwise carried in obvious boxes or rolls. This is useful if other precautions fail and your luggage is rummaged, although much less helpful if your luggage is stolen entirely.

    I prefer large, latchable cases. The best I’ve used are the cheap plastic cases that come with glasses I’ve ordered online, because they’re protective enough for shipping. I can fit a rigid bracelet wrapped in a protective cloth in my largest case, and the latch prevents accidental release of the contents.

    [Reply]

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