Do You Really Need a Money Belt for Traveling?

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For some, a money belt for traveling is as undesirable as a fanny pack. Other adventurers wouldn’t dream of leaving home without one. So, how’s a girl to decide?

Do You Need a Money Belt for Traveling? Pros of Having a Money Belt

Security: Hiding your valuables under your clothes provides greater protection from pickpockets than stashing them in jean pockets or bag compartments. You might think, “I’ve been safe so far,” but it only takes one second for a thief to make off with your valuables, and it only takes one incident to leave you stranded. If you’ve ever canceled a credit card from abroad or spent a night in a train station because you no longer have cash to rent a room, you know what I mean. Additionally, if you stay in hostels or sleep on trains, where professional robbers prey on dozing travelers, a money belt could help ensure you get some zzz’s.

Organization: Remembering where you stashed your valuables is a nuisance, especially when there’s art to see, ruins to tour and local cuisine to sample. A money belt helps eliminate panicked searches through packed luggage and frantic self-patdowns.

No one likes to be the girl emptying a suitcase of dirty laundry onto the hotel lobby floor.

Discretion: Money belts are designed to be invisible and they really are. So, rest assured – you can still look devastating! Shop around to find your most suitable style, which may include leather belts that do double-duty of holding up your pants, nylon TSA belts (called “beep-free belts”) that tuck inside your clothes’ waistline, neck pouches with steel cables sewn into the strap to prevent thieves’ quick snips or models that wrap around your leg.

Cons of Having a Money Belt

Awkward: There’s nothing graceful about reaching into your shirt, your waistband or up your pants to withdraw cash. You might be able to duck into a restroom to remove what you need, but there’s no guarantee one will be readily available.

Sweaty: I sweat, you sweat…sweat is a fact of life, especially when you are running from sight to sight. It’s no fun retrieving a damp bill from the waist of your skirt and offering it to a repelled cashier. Or, worse, withdrawing a train ticket only to find the ink has run and rendered it illegible. A plastic bag will help keep everything crisp, but it’s not foolproof.

Dirty Laundry: Wearing a money belt every day is not exactly like wearing the same pair of underwear… but it’s not so different, either. A good thing about traveling is that the excitement of a new place outweighs the missing comforts of home. Make the best of it by sink-laundering you money belt at night with travel-sized detergent packets or whatever soap you can find, hang it to dry, and you’ll be good to go the next morning.

Whichever route you choose, don’t forget to split your valuables into two or more places, carry only essentials and keep copies of your passport and account numbers separate from your originals.

You can also carry “robber’s money”, a few dollars in your pocket that will appease thieves and hopefully deter them from demanding more.

Do you have a money belt for traveling? If so, which ones work best for you? If not, why?

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About Author

Dawn first became hooked on traveling while studying abroad in London. Who knew how easy it was to hop on a plane, train or boat and emerge in another country! Since then, she has traveled as much as possible and loves how each destination alters her understanding of life. Read her expat exploits on shootandscrawl.com, view her photos on dawnspaulding.com and follow her on twitter @shootandscrawl. Based out of: Luxembourg City and New York City

11 Comments

  1. Sometimes I carry a money belt, but not usually in hot places, since you’re right it gets really sweaty. I always split my money and credit cards up and leave a credit card in the hotel safe as a back up.

    • Laurel, I totally agree! I always like to split my cash stash and credit cards up and use the hotel safe. And, I always make sure to bring MC and visa since so many int’l places don’t take Amex.

  2. I don’t like the money belt so I just pin a small cloth pouch inside my pants/shorts. It’s less sweaty and akward. Plus I just make sure I have enough money in my wallet so I don’t keep reaching for the hidden stash.

  3. I sometimes carry a money belt, but mostly on intense travel days or walking around cities that are more prone to theft. Otherwise I just keep a credit card and small amount of cash in a cloth zipper pouch that stays in my bag.

    I haven’t had any problems yet! 🙂

  4. I’m with Christy – I do carry a money belt, especially on busy travel days. Once I settle into a city for a few days, I ditch it until I have another travel day. Like the security of it but won’t use it every day.

    • Christy and Jeremy, good points that destination, level of comfort and activities are factors! Also, traveling solo vs with others affects my decision.

  5. as any beginner traveler, I had the money-belt during my 1st year of traveling. then i stopped the habit once i settled down in a foreign country b/c i didn’t feel like a tourist anymore, more like a local. i’ve traveled often now, but the money belt stayed home, eventually i gave it away.
    i prefer a small-sized wallet with strap over shoulder where i keep money, cards, passport, sometime a phone. then i cover them with a jacket. problem is that when it’s hot, the wallet revealed.

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