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PacSafe Saves the Trip! A Real World Review…

Feb 27th, 2008 by WanderingSean | 14

I hate to sound like a commercial, but we love PacSafe products. As you have already heard Dawn sing praises, now it’s my turn.

Dawn’s experience was minor compared to this one. Had the pickpocket in Quito gotten into Dawn’s bag, she might have gotten a guidebook, $10, and a roll of toilet paper (don’t laugh, TP is a valuable commodity here in Ecuador). We keep most of our valuables in my bag and secure it as best as possible—I don’t let anyone touch it and it never leaves my sight.

We traveled by bus from Otavalo to Latacunga here in Ecuador. Unfortunately there is no direct bus between these two towns and we needed to return to the den of thieves in Quito to change buses. Don’t get me wrong—I really enjoyed Quito but you do need to watch your back in certain areas.

We boarded the bus and were the only passengers on board. We grabbed the prime seats at the very front with all the leg room to stretch out. I put my bag under my legs and cracked a book for the long ride.

Some guys got on board and sat directly behind us. I assumed they wanted to watch the soccer game on the TV in front. The conductor was standing in the aisle and chatting with them for a good half hour.

As the bus was bumping along, I looked down and noticed the bag had “slid” underneath my seat. I pulled the bag out and propped my feet on it. The conductor told me to take my feet off the wall. When I did this he tried to grab the bag. I grabbed it first and he started snapping at me in Spanish. I could not register what his was saying fast enough but eventually I figured out he was telling me I needed to store the bag underneath the seat. I didn’t like his tone and when he said it for the forth time and tapped me on the shoulder I snapped at him and told him no.

This “conductor” got off at the next stop with the two people that were sitting behind me—and they ran. It was then Dawn heard someone in the back of the bus say they were “Ladrons” (thieves). I looked at my bag again and noticed it was unzipped but still locked.


I didn’t think much of it since this is how it looks 90% of the time when its locked up in my room. I didn’t recall opening the bag on the bus for any reason though… I inspected it a bit more closely and noticed the cable near the padlock was damaged—they had tried to cut it! It seems this “conductor” was working with the men behind me to try and break into my bag from underneath my seat! When they couldn’t get into it he was frustrated enough to try and grab it (and brazen enough to tell me I needed to store it under the seat). I expect to encounter pickpockets, but to carry a tool in an attempt to cut cable?!?! These low-lives were really prepared.


Only on arriving here in Banos did I see the following warning in a café:

Beware of a robbery scam currently popular on buses coming out of Quito. They target foreigners and enter the buses posing as official controllers… counting seats and indicating to passengers where to put their bags—under their seats or above in the racks—then they plant someone behind you to get the bag when you’re not looking. Watch your bags at all times!!!

As usual it’s probably just me, but wouldn’t it have been better to have gotten this information IN QUITO!?!? .

But, PacSafe didn’t just save the day—in this case it has saved our trip!!!

Pacsafe actually took note of Dawn’s story and thanked us. I have written to tell them of our latest experience as well. I am waiting to hear back from them on a possible replacement bag. Seeing as we still have a lot of travel ahead of us and we keep our lives in this bag, I hope they can come through for us.


I hope their customer service is as great as their products. I’d like to note for anyone considering one of these bags, even if these thieves had managed to cut this section of cable the bag would still be locked. Nothing is foolproof but these bags are a damn good deterrent.

Bad element aside, and there are bad elements everywhere in the world, we are loving Ecuador. Most people here are kind, friendly, and very helpful. I don’t want to leave any readers with the impression this is not a place to travel… honestly the more we see the more it’s becoming one of our favorite countries.

14 Comments on “PacSafe Saves the Trip! A Real World Review…”

  1. Soccer » PacSafe Saves the Trip! A Real World Review… said:

    [...] WanderingWhy… wrote an interesting post today on PacSafe Saves the Trip! A Real World Review…Here’s a quick excerptI assumed they wanted to watch the soccer game on the TV in front…. [...]

  2. jlynch319 said:

    Hey wanderingsean!, and Hey wanderingdawn!,
    This website is the best! im on it almost every day, looking for new posts and wondering what is going to happen next. I’ve been following for about 2 months now. You two are such an inspiration to so many people. Most of us only imagine and dream of making the kind of voyage your are living.

    There’s just one thing has been eating at me though, and i must have an answer. Before you left on this trip, did you both get together and say:

    (wanderingsean)……in shape of a bearded wanderer in search of the most elusive turtle on planet earth!……….

    (wanderingdawn)… shape of an amazing wife in search of the ultimate yoga safari!…….

    i have been laughing out loud at your posts, both of you are such great writers.

    The pacsafe info. is great. Who would have thought these products would make such a big difference in your trip. I can believe how close those ladrons were to getting a big old can of NEW YORK WHOOPASS opened up on them! you should thank pacsafe for saving you thousands on bail money!!!

    Be safe, we’ll be watching!
    cousin john

  3. WanderingSean said:

    This made me laugh like we did at all the family parties growing up. Our parents thought we were up to no good and guess what: We were! I hope we don’t get grounded now that I admitted our guilt.

    We love comments like this! I wish our readers would post more of them.

    I think we forgot to activate our wandering twin powers. Wasn’t one twin always a bucket of water? We’ve seen plenty of that in the last month with all the rain. I think I’ll stick to my bearded wanderer persona for now. It makes WD mad so why shave?

    Thanks John!

  4. WanderingWhy… » Thanks again PacSafe! said:

    [...] you’ve been following this site for a while, you may recall my near robbery on a bus in Quito, Ecuador. My PacSafe daybag saved the day but it did get a bit damaged in the fiasco.  Although it is not [...]

  5. antsypants said:

    hey! how is the wondering? well i am a solo wanderer in preparation. i am a lady, tend to draw weirdos and have a smile that can melt most barriers. i have never traveled out of the country or on my own but i am leaving this summer to start my rtw extended journey in latin america. people say you’ll be raped, mugged blah, blah blah. truth is, i have no choice, i must go. i have no one to go with and this will not change, nor do i wish it to. i have crap, lots of crap. camera’s, lap top, hard drive not to mention the normal stuff. i am smart, and no how to stay “safe” and out of obvious trouble but as a young, solo girl am i making a mistake? i will be traveling mainly via bus. will i be a target? are buses in s. america a bad idea? yeah, my saga. thanks for listening and for treading the path.

    all the rainbows that sunshine can bring,

  6. Paul said:

    Hey Jeannine. I would recommend bringing some pepper spray and maybe even one of those personal panic alarms. The loud noise would be enough to scare off any cowardly thieves.

    At the very least, get some good traveler’s insurance on your items.

  7. Sarah said:

    Great article! Do you keep your Nikon D40 in your Daysafe 100? If so, did you purchase an additional camera insert to protect your camera from bouncing around? I’ll be bringing my Nikon D90 on my journey.

    Happy travels!

  8. WanderingSean said:

    HI Sarah! We did keep the camera inside the pacsafe. IT was kept in a camera shoulder bag (padded) and then the entire pacsafe bag was lined with a waterproof drysack. We had so much stuff in that pacsafe there was no bouncing around, and the camera bag cushioned it when placed on bus floors, ferries, etc.

  9. Ayngelina said:

    Hi guys,

    I wasn’t planning on buying anything pacsafe but I was planning to bring a cable lock/cord combo for my bag.

    Did you buy the bag from the pacsafe site? Spending 150 on a day bag makes me feel ill, and I’m wondering if you found a Canadian supplier for less.

  10. WanderingSean said:

    Hi Ayngelina!
    We can’t remember if we bought it directly through their site or on Amazon (link is on the bottom right of our blog).
    You may be able to find it through a Canadian supplier, not sure, we are from the US and did not investigate that angle.
    Good luck!

  11. T-16 Days To Backpacking in Asia! « dan ho said:

    [...] such traveller on a bus recounted his story about how his PacSafe DaySafe prevented a ruined vacation. Compare that to the story of this poor [...]

  12. Holly Troubetzkoy said:

    Wil be walking the Santiago de Compastella walk end of July to August and have read nothing about security so far. Gusess assumption is tht noone has anything of value with them. But if you travel light you need everything you do take with you.
    Any info in this area.
    How much can one of these day packs hold? vol/wt?


  13. WanderingSean said:

    The Daysafe does have more weight than a standard Daypack. WanderingDawn used the metrosafe 200 shoulderbag which is much smaller and lighter.
    The Camino de Santiago sounds like a tough one. What will you be bringing on such an adventure? Personally, I’d forget about Pacsafe and do it with a small cheap camera (one you can afford to have stolen should it happen) and the barest of gear. A heavy bag and an lots of gear to worry about on such a long journey by foot will have you taking God’s name in vain all the way… and that doesn’t seem appropriate for this situation ;-) .
    Yes, by traveling light you do need everything you take with you–but if your things get lost or stolen along the way, trust me–YOU CAN REPLACE THEM… and if not you probably didn’t need it all that much anyway.
    Enjoy the journey

  14. Frank said:

    I am happy your valuables were saved by the pacsafe.

    It should be mentioned though that the thieves tried to cut the second-strongest part of the whole system (after the padlock). If they would have cut the bag anywhere else, they would have likely gotten into it, because the actual metal mesh is much weaker than the metal cord and they did quite good damage on the cord.

    I have seen a video where a guy cut the mesh with a box cutter. Nonetheless it’s obviously better than not having a security layer at all :)

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