Secret Stash: Where To Hide Your Money While Traveling


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. That’s why knowing where to hide your money while traveling is key.

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.

Hiding Money On Your Body 

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.

If you’re hiding money on your body and don’t want to wear a money belt, don’t put your money in your pockets. Instead, try something like this secret scarf, which has zipped compartments in it that can hold your passport and money, and just looks like a scarf.

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.

Hiding Money In Your Bag 

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.

When it comes to bags that are relatively theft-proof, we love pacsafe (click the link to see this cute daypack we <3)

Whether you have a slash-proof bag or not, you definitely have items in your bag that you can use to hide money in. 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.
  • Hide a roll of 20s in your tampon box.

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.

Hiding Money in Your Hotel or Hostel

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.

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 and you’ll always run the risk of the safe malfunctioning on you (in which case you’ll have to call the front desk to gain access).

But keeping some money behind when you’re out exploring a new place is the best way to keep yourself on budget. Just make sure to budget enough for food, attractions and a taxi ride back to your hotel or hostel (ask the front desk staff for an estimation).

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.

Split Up Your Money To Different Places

The most important thing to know about how to hide your money while traveling: have several places you’re keeping cash. 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 where to hide money while traveling? Have any horror stories about being robbed on the road? Any creative stashes? We want to hear from you!


About Author

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.


  1. 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.

  2. 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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  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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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  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!!

  11. 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!

  12. 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 !!!

    • If you like the idea of stashing stuff in your bra, and being comfortable look at the bravebetty travel bra. It’s great for those long bus and train rides because it can even hold your passport, cards and cash but it’s all inside the back of the sports style bra, so everything is laying flat and not jabbing into you.
      I once had my shirt lifted up at the waist by someone looking for my money belt!

  13. 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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  17. I allow myself so much money or what you expect to use for the day everyday.. The rest gets locked in my tsa approved lock case. I put it in a travel wallet in the lining/mesh pocket in the case and everyday make sure the cases are locked – along with just about everything inside.. I generally only leave my hairbrush, toothbrush/paste and pj’s out so it limits what could be taken by hotel staff.. As an extra measure in high risk countries is remember what lock code you turn it to to lock it ie if your code is 123 you might do 456.. Also in high risk pick pocket areas or big crowded areas whilst wearing especially a backpack.. Shove a jacket or something on top of everything else (cameras/money) and keeping moving and turning (just make out you are looking at the sites) but if you keep turning left and right and doing 180’s pickpockets shouldn’t either come near you or give up. Use corners in lifts etc..

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  19. In Cuba I had my atm hidden (well, because it was useless in the country as an American citizen, and because I always hide it traveling) in my makeup bag. Low and behold, a cleaning lady must have sold out my card number details, because I all of the sudden got a ton of purchases being made from grand Cayman, a popular entry point to Cuba for Travelers. That was the only time I was separated from that card ?

  20. i had a school teacher come to class everyday with her wallet directly inside her bra cup. yes it was noticable like it made a square outline in her cup. it didnt bother her we found out she was from another country and it was the custom there.

  21. I was robbed in Guatemala, walking alone in a very remote place for many many kilometers.. all because i had pre booked with the bus company a little hostel that was like 3 dolars a night and seemed good, but when i got there they only had cold showers and it was freezing and i was on the worst mood in the world and the food was really expensive and there was nothing around so i got really pissed and left to go find another place.. it was early in the morning and i only saw a few people on the way, but i wasnt feeling scared, i was in peace, enjoying the walk and the nature around me, until a guy came running after me with his face covered with a scarf and a knife on his hand.. i still wasnt scared i thought he was just a worker hiding from the sun and on a hurry, – tip number one: if this happens run too and scream — until he came closer and started telling me to be calm, so of course i stopped being calm, well he opened my bags, checked me up and down also inside my shorts and all, it was awful but i was taking it easy, he wasnt finding my money, thank god i wasnt wearing my money belt, but rather was it on the good old best hiding spot – tampon box -, but anyway he filled my small backpack with all my cameras, phone, watch and other shit like my shoes and shampoo and deodorant, my make up and any other bag shaped thing he found.. but, when he got away, me recovering myself, realized he was taking my passport so i started screaming/begging “my passport, my passport” and he actually stopped and let me get it back.. robber error i think he will never make again! because then some locals heard me screaming and as he was getting away for the second time i got to say which way he was going into the woods and the locals actually found him, beat him up, got all my stuff back, and kept him tided with rope, while i got a ride on one of their trucks until the next hostel which was still fucking far as fuck, and then they went to get me there asking me to go to the police, and the guy went to jail. jackpot! i was soooo lucky!! it wasnt even all that bad from the begining since he wasnt taking my money, but i sure was happy to recover and shit that was also mostly worthless for him..
    So, keeping money on ones self, unless its actually well hidden – regular money belts arent – its only good to avoind pick pocketing and stuff but not actual violent robbers. so definately the best thing is to share the money in as many places as possible, and i loved the idea of home making hidden pockets on the clothes.. i just hope i dont forget one of them and send it to the laundry lol
    The hiding the money on the hostel would neeeever work for me! for sure im leaving it right there in the first chance lol

    • Oh. Em. Gee. That is the CRAZIEST story I’ve heard in a while! I’m glad you didn’t get hurt and that the would-be robber got his butt kicked!

    • Sorry to hear about your experience! Wow! A tampon box! Now that’s some place I would never think of. Thanks for the advice.

  22. i hate sharing my hiding spots because i feel like i would also be searching for this if i was a thief but here it goes anyway:
    empty deodorant.. the shittest the best because it might be an item people are interested in robbing too
    band aid box – another one that made it through when i was robbed.. and i could actually see the money coming out.. just prayed.
    one old underwear that you wont use well folded with the money inside
    inside a sock along with the other socks
    i also taped the folding part of the book cover.. but if you are like me and lose stuff all the time thats a dangerous one, ill do it anyway but its the first one ill take the money from.
    jacket pocket.. its simple and not that safe but at least it will hardly go to the laundry
    under the sole of the boot.. careful if we will step on wet.
    I still need to come up with a good, safe, waterproof option that goes with the bikini for days at the beach..
    love the pen idea also, def doing that one this year! at least the emergency 100 we gotta have safe for the bus ticket to the place we take out flight home from.. once there we can find a job somewhere and couchsurf or something.. just stay alive until the day, but we gotta get there 🙂

  23. My husband and I have been travelling for decades and have never been robbed, except by bank exchange rates! I think it is important to travel with a companion. It is tempting to go out on your own, but you have to remember that you make yourself a big, prosperous-looking target.

    Here are my tips:
    Carry a decoy cheapo wallet shoved into a back or hip pocket. They will grab that and go, especially in crowds.
    Don’t carry a purse unless you want to store only your sunglasses and kleenex.
    Shove your money in your bra, and your card, like everyone says.
    Wear your passport in a wide cloth moneybelt under your clothes.
    Keep your briefcase or bag on your lap while eating in a cafe. No one hangs her purse over the back of her chair in London. It’s just not done.
    Ask locals if the subway line/area is safe. That saved my butt in Rome.
    Keep your luggage with you when you are taking a multi-plane trip through Central America–don’t entrust your luggage to anyone. Same in North America.

  24. I have been travelling a lot and I have never got robbed. I usually carry valuables in a money belt and don’t flash my cash. While travelling I also avoid flashy jewelry, and never wave my iPod or a cell phone around:)

    Only once I had gypsy pickpocket children with the newspaper scam try to get into my purse, but I caught them in time to shoe them away.

    I also try to carry one card and cash for the day ‘ not all my valuables at once. Some anti-theft travel accessories ( like ) can also work fine.

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