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.