Secret Stash: Where To Hide Your Money

by Julie on June 20, 2011

Wallet Grab

Every penny, pound or peso is precious while you’re traveling. Unfortunately, being a traveler also puts you at a particular risk for having your cash nicked.

Travelers tend to be preoccupied, dazed by jetlag, and in possession of wads of newly exchanged currency – in other words: easy targets.

The best way to guard against theft while traveling is to stay alert and aware of your possessions and your surroundings.

But you know what? Every once in a while – when you’re dazzled by an ancient temple or half-asleep after that overnight bus ride over the border – you just forget to focus on what’s going on with your wallet.

Don’t beat yourself up for lapsing on a self-prescribed travel regimen of hyper-vigilance. Instead, try a proactive strategy and hide some of that dinero in a clever spot where no one can find it even when you’re in la-la land.

Where are these handy hiding places, you ask? Read on for a set of suggestions on where to hide your money…

Safe Money Walkin’

 

While you’re traveling, odds are that you’ll be spending most of your time roaming far from your hostel dorm or hotel room. So you’ll want to have money on hand, but you won’t want it easily accessible to sticky fingers.

Anyone who’s traveled with an embarrassing parent or chaperone is probably familiar with the anti-theft garments like money belts and around-the-neck money pouches.

While they certainly serve a purpose, you don’t have to buy another accessory just to hide your money–you just have to stash your money in more creative places.

  • Make your whole wardrobe pick-pocket-proof by sewing your own protective pocket into the inside of shorts, pants, or tops. You don’t have to be a master seamstress, any simple square of fabric sewn securely on three sides will do the trick.

Don’t have lots of layers to spare?

  • The homemade pocket can even be a helpful addition to the perennial classic: money in the bra, handed down to us from Go! Girls of yore. Hey, if you don’t mind the extra padding, this solution gets an A-cup… er, sorry, A-plus.

Remember: Outside pockets that snap, zip, button or buckle are surprisingly ineffective against the average pickpockets.

Make sure your cash is truly inaccessible when you’ve got it on you, even if it means you have to dash behind a tree or into a restroom to gracefully recover it.

Bag Burglars

 

Whether you’ve packed a steel-sided suitcase or a dusty old backpack, sometimes your luggage will be out of your sight during transit or at accommodations. Again, you can deter most theft just be making it inconvenient for the would-be thief – keep money tucked into deep inside pockets, under or inside the lining of your suitcase, or at least packed at the very bottom of a bag.

Use whatever else is in your bag as additional tools for slap-dash security. Get creative!

  • Save an extra shampoo bottle in your toiletries case and pop your extra bills inside.
  • Paste an envelope in the back of your travel notebook and store savings there.

I stayed a few nights in a busy hostel room and slid the few euros I had left into the barrel-end of my hairdryer, even though my suitcase was locked.

True, it did feel more like a detective-fiction plot twist than a truly necessary security measure, but I figured, why not? I was playing it safe and getting a kick out of being extra-cautious.

Hotel Hoarder

 

Leaving your valuables at any type of accommodation can also feel risky, whether it’s a hostel dorm with loads of strangers coming in and out or a private hotel room with seemingly high security.

You can certainly take advantage of hotel safes and locked storage areas. The downside here is that you’re relying on the accommodation staff, not just for trustworthiness, but for sheer convenience of access to your cash.

So what about hiding money in your room?

In shared accommodation, this is easier said than done. It’s a bit awkward to look for hiding spots, carefully tuck money away, or subtly retrieve it when loads of people are hanging around. And it can begin to feel invasive of the shared nature of the room. I stick to keeping cash well hidden in my bags in places like this.

But in a room of your own, go wild! Hide a bit of cash in your temporary home: under the corners of carpets, taped to the bottom-side of drawers, I’ve even heard of travelers unscrewing ventilator grates and hiding valuables inside for the duration of their stay.

Remember: Since you’re using a space that doesn’t belong to you to hide things that do, you’re walking a fine line here.

You don’t want to damage or disturb things or areas in your room in your mission to protect your money – you’ll end up paying to fix what you broke, just another way of losing the money you were trying to save.

The Lowdown on High Security

The most important thing to know about secret stashes: have several. Keeping your cash or credit cards in one place means it only takes one bit of bad luck to lose it all. Split up the cash or cards you’re carrying, and hide little bits in different places.

When you can, I recommended making use of all three categories: on your body, in your carrying bags or suitcases, and in an out-of-the-way place wherever you’re staying. You’ve got cash wherever you need it, and back up if any one of your hiding places was found out.

Remember: You don’t have to be paranoid.

The vast majority of people you meet while traveling do not want to steal from you, rip you off, or cheat you. The problem is, it only takes one. So stay one step ahead of their game by mastering the art of monetary hide and seek.

With a little caution and a lot of creativity, you’ll be able to keep those travel funds on lockdown. Happy hiding!

What’s your secret for stashing cash while traveling? Have any horror stories about being robbed on the road? We want to hear from you!

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When Julie was a little kid, she conspiratorially whispered to her dad, "You know what? I have powers." It took the world, and Julie, about 20 years to figure out what the heck she meant by that. But in 2010, when a chance backpacking adventure turned into a year of transformational travel, she cracked it: her super power is Wonder Wandering. Her mission? Using her powers of volunteering for globe-trotting good, not evil. Her kryptonite? Stayin' put.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

The Travel Chica June 20, 2011 at 9:10 am

I am always afraid I will forget one of my hiding places in hotel rooms :-)

I haven’t done this myself, but I have heard from others that use heavy-duty tape to secure their passport, extra cash, and cards underneath a low shelf or night stand.

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Megan June 20, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Great idea to use everyday items inside your pack – hiding cash with your dirty underwear or feminine supplies could work :)

Even the simple option of just putting your valuables out of sight, particularly in a hotel room that’s being accessed by the cleaners every day, is surprisingly effective (in that I’ve never had anything stolen from a hotel room :) )

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adventureswithben June 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I’ve been known to put money in my shoe.

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Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista June 21, 2011 at 10:45 am

Great tips! I worked with a gal who would put her money in “the vault” – her bra! Loved the name and have used it from time to time. My first reaction when reading about hiding money in hotel room was I’d forget where I put it so I probably won’t use that one. Liked the idea to use hairdryer though.

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Julie June 21, 2011 at 11:08 am

I confess – I’ve followed my own advice here and *have* definitely hidden money in places I then forgot about. Thankfully it was in a room I had as a long-term volunteer, so three months in, suddenly I was 100 Pounds Sterling richer, and all I did was move the bed to clean underneath!

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Jozef @ Where Now June 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Haha great post, very useful and very true! Haven’t had anything stolen in 4 and a half months travelling so far so think I’m doing something right!

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Uttoran Sen @ Travel Tamed June 24, 2011 at 3:23 am

Things have improved though, i remember in the past when ATM’s were not so common, especially on small places where we used to go for traveling and the only alternative at that time, was to go around with a fat wallet which increased the risk of losing more…

Nice tips, being creative helps. I like to keep the cash, cell phone, credit card in different places, good to see that suggestion on your article, it makes a big difference to not lose all of it together.

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Traci Salisbury December 10, 2011 at 1:19 pm

nice tips! I too enjoy the shoe option, great idea!

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linda May 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm

im a bit old fashion. the money credit card and even my cell phone and camera will be quite safe inside my bra cup when i travel. no safer place.

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Dfgh November 15, 2013 at 9:49 pm

I always keep my money in my bra and it works every time

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Missy December 21, 2013 at 10:10 pm

My ‘emergency $100′ goes in a pen. A simple plastic stick pen. Pull off the tip and the ink part, tightly roll the $100 around the plastic ink part and resemble the pen.
Best to choose a pen from a memorable business so you remember it’s special when you see it. I sometimes never even use my emergency $100 and the last thing I do before I give my broken down bag to the Goodwill is search the lining for the pen.

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Nikki May 1, 2014 at 2:18 pm

I keep my money ( notes ) in a plastic bank bag or zip lock bag, then I stash that down the front of my panties, or bikini pants, depending on whichever I’m wearing. Underneath my summer skirt or shorts, it’s a perfectly safe place to keep it,and you can’t even tell that it’s down there ! No need to mess about with money belts and hidden pouches ! This way is much easier and just as safe, nice and comfy too!!

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Leah June 2, 2014 at 12:13 pm

I’ve been known to travel on overnight buses with my money, passport, phone and camera all shoved in my sports bra. GET THAT WITHOUT WAKING ME HA! Even I can barely get the thing off!

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Nikki June 2, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Hi Leah ! I’ve tried the bra stash but it just doesn’t work for me , I can’t seem to get the damn thing comfy in there and just seem to end up fidgeting around all of the time and end up getting strange looks from people ! Not to mention the odd looking lumps and bumps in my top! Keeping my money package down my panties/ bikini pants is much more comfy and the slight bulge it makes down there is nicely hidden by my skirt or shorts, my passport also slips down a treat too ! Safe and sound, and really comfy, I can easily move about without any problems, thus giving me peace of mind so I can enjoy my holiday !!!

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runawaybrit October 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I must admit that I would never hide money around the room because I would totally forget and leave it there!

I usually roll notes up and then stick them down the middle section of my bra when out and about. In the hotel room I have hidden money and cards inside a book, inside the lining of my case, in a shoe or in my dirty laundry bag – I figure that only a crazy person would go looking through there!

I like the shampoo bottle idea :-)

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