Money Belts

currency

In preparation for “The Adventure,” I’m spending a lot of time reading the websites of others who are already on such a journey.

Most, I’ll admit, are written by people young enough to be my own kids. Most are traveling differently than I plan to–more on that in the future–but I’m able to pick up a few tips here and there.

However, there is one theme I am finding that shocks me. All profess to be “experts” on full time travel yet I read story after story of them being the victim of pickpockets and losing everything. While being a victim of pickpockets is being all too common, it isn’t necessary to lose everything.

The latest was from someone who has been traveling for a few years yet was pickpocketed in Barcelona. And now, he says that because the police don’t crack down, he’s not going back.

Here’s what happened: He emerged from the train station (warning, pickpockets love train stations.) He was pulling one bag behind him (wheels) and had a rucksack on his back. He was also wearing a suit which he thinks drew the most attention (nope). And then admits he was carrying his wallet with credit cards, cash and passport in his back pocket.  When he got to his hostel, he realized his wallet was gone.

His conclusion, had the wallet been in his front pocket he would have been okay. And that in the future he’ll split his cash between two pockets.

He had over thirty responses to this posting and not one person mentioned wearing a money belt.

Two years ago, I did a blog posting on money belts and feel it’s worth it to post it again here:

MONEY BELTS

Money belts seems to be a one sided issue for most people: either you use them or think they are completely ridiculous.

Ever since I started traveling seriously, I’ve been wearing a money belt. I’ve seen too many people who were victims of pickpocketing, and the hassle it causes not to wear one.

Yet most don’t wear or use them correctly. Here is a primer on money belts:

First, what we are talking about is not the belt with the hidden zippered pocket for a couple of bills.

A money belt is always worn UNDERNEATH your clothing. It is not your primary daily source for money, credit cards, etc. Think of a money belt as deep storage. You only access it in private when no one is around. In it I keep extra money, credit cards, debit cards, my passport, train/plane tickets (although these are becoming rare), or any other document I want to safeguard.

In my FRONT pants pocket is a wallet with a small amount of cash and perhaps one credit card. This is what I use for purchases. If I should get pickpocketed, the thief won’t get much. Women might want to carry the wallet in their purse but the principle is the same…only enough for the day.

There are four types of money belts:

moneybelt1) The type worn around the waist.

This one is the most popular and can be worn either in front or in the small of your back—whichever you find more comfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

hidden pocket2) The Hidden Pocket

This is one for people who wear belts. The pocket has loops that a belt goes through and then the entire thing hangs down inside your pant leg. (This is the one I use and find the most comfortable.) Some women have told me they use this type but instead of a belt, they put a safety pin through the belt loops and pin it to the inside of either their pants.

 

 

 

 

 

neck wallet3) The neck wallet.

This is usually worn a around the neck but some wear it messenger style with the actual wallet underneath one of the arms. If you wear tight fitting tops or ones without collars, the neck strap can be seen. Some also report the neck strap can be uncomfortable in hot weather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

leg wallet4) The Leg Stash

This one is worn around the lower leg.(I like this the least for as the day wears on, my leg tends to either perspire or my calf muscle would flex and the wallet would drop down around my ankles.)

 

 

 

 

One other bit of advice. Since these are worn under your clothes, after awhile these money belts tend to get wet due to body moisture. I’d suggest that you first put anything you plan to carry in the money belt into a small ziploc bag to keep moisture out.

The photos here show models made by Rick Steves and Eagle Creek. I’ve used both and find them functional and comfortable. Pacsafe is making some with extra security and Eagle Creek is adding RFID blocking

Whether you use them or not is a personal choice. But if someone asked me, I’d say it’s one of the most important items you can take with you on any trip. It gives me piece of mind knowing the likelihood of having to waste a day either getting my passport replaced or filling out police paperwork is greatly reduced.

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5 Responses to Money Belts

  1. Easter Cat says:

    Ever since I heard about money belts, I’ve always traveled with one. I’ve also used the hidden pockets in my clothes for quick access items that didn’t need the ultimate security, but didn’t want in my purse either.
    If the blog post wasn’t too old, I would hope you commented on it.

  2. tcl says:

    I gifted every one of my younger cousins a money belt, a tiny pocket and sometimes a day wallet before their gap year trips. Eventually something is lost, stolen or pickpocketted for reasons both avoidable and unavoidable but luckily it’s usually not everything.

  3. Rahm says:

    I did loose my money belt that (2. Hidden Pocket) that loops around the belt, at the airport in Japan on a stop over. Half asleep, we had to get off the plane and get back in. However, we all had to go through the equivqlent of TSA, where we had to take off the belt. Did not realize until after the flight has taken off. Singapore Airlines tried, but no luck. Fortunately for me I did not have my passport in it. Lost HK$ 1000.

    I use a 3. Neck wallet these days for passport, but use the Hidden Pocket for daily use in a new city.

  4. Lynne in NC says:

    Frank this is great advice for all ages and for any destination.
    One tip: I have sewn into my upper undergarment a soft pouch that holds one credit card (with photo id on it) and several large bills. It is sewn into the band under by arm pit and accessed in private only. I used it just this past week while traveling on business. I cannot tell the pouch is there as it is of a soft fabric and small enough not to bother me. It provides peace of mind if I ever misplace my travel wallet.
    When flying globally the recommended money belt is with me, as well. Both have been life savers at different times in my years of travel.
    Keep up the good work of researching and sharing the information as you plan your Grand Adventure.

  5. Paul-in-NYS says:

    I use the belt-loop type and I’ve been satisfied with it, except maybe for the one time when I needed my passport unexpectedly to gain entrance to a guarded building. The guard changed his mind about seeing my passport when I started to unfasten my belt.