We were planning to keep our valuables - credit card, debit card, and passport - in our backpacks. We will be using public transportation and will be in some crowds at times. On the London underground and in crowds, we will hold our packs close to the chest with arms through the straps. We've got very good situational awareness. Opinions about using a money belt, waist or neck, would be greatly appreciated. Rick Steves highly recommends a money belt. The last time I was in Europe was 12 years ago in Switzerland. I used a day pack and was super careful and vigilant and didn't have any problems. In big U.S. cities, I've never used a money belt. We will be paying for things with the credit cards so it seems a bit of a hassle to get into that money belt. Not to mention it may be sweaty and irritating to the skin. Thoughts?
Just because you didn’t have a problem before doesn’t mean you won’t have an issue the next time. I agree with you about money belts. I find them uncomfortable. My husband now wears a money pocket and keeps our credit cards, passports and cash in it. He doesn’t find it uncomfortable.
This question has been asked many times on the forum. You likely haven’t had a problem in a U.S. city because pickpocketing tends not to be as much of an issue in the states. I wear a money belt when traveling in Europe and the UK. Honestly I feel less worried about someone trying to steal something in London than I do in other cities but still when traveling about or taking the Tube I go ahead and wear it.
As others have pointed out, you get used to it being on your body. Keep small notes or coins in pockets for smaller purchases. I’d rather wear it and be over cautious than lose my passport or credit cards just because I didn’t feel like wearing it.
As I travel alone, I worry much less if I have most of my cards/cash/passport in my money belt.
NEVER access it in public.
There are silk moneybelts available to help avoid irritation.
Do what makes YOU comfortable, there is no consensus even among RS travelers.
Carrying a daypack marks you as a tourist. Not to say you should not carry one. I do and in it is a water bottle, guidebook, maps, sunscreen. But credit cards, debit cards, passport? Might as well assume you will lose them. Situational awareness will get you so far, but these pickpockets are quick and skilled. I would not consider not wearing a money belt. You get used to it. For small change I stuff 50 Euro’s into a zippered pocket. For credit card purchases, like paying a restaurant tab, I go to the WC, do my business, get the card out, pay the bill, back to the WC to put it back.
Been traveling to Europe for years. I don’t carry a purse in the States nor when I travel.
Always use a money belt. Also a small leather coin purse that fits in my pants pocket. When I arrive I use my debit card to withdraw cash from a bank ATM. That goes into a secure zipper pocket
( coat or pants). Quick Stop at a bathroom and the majority of the cash then placed in money belt
I rarely use a credit card for purchases. Thus the reason they remain safely ensconced in the money Belt. The leather coin purse I have allows me to fold a bill and place inside the coin purse.
Each day when I am getting ready to tour I take out some money and place it in the coin purse. For example if in London a 10 Pound note along with a few 2 Pound coins.
The professional pickpockets in Europe also have great situational awareness, and the skill to take advantage of it. A money belt is like wearing a seatbelt - its a low risk but high consequence. I use my judgment depending what I'm doing on any particular day, but I always wear it in transit situations. You are not supposed to use it as a wallet for everyday transactions - its for the stuff that is difficult and time-consuming to replace that might ruin your holiday to lose. If I know I'm shopping or using an ATM that day, those things go in my most secure pocket, not the money belt.
Seat belts and bicycle helmets can be bothersome on some level, too, but the security they provide far outweigh any inconvenience.
A personal experience on a crowded Athens metro this spring, having always avoided pickpocketing in the past, and not using a neck wallet this time, but with my my travel purse clutched in from of me, it still got opened and a wallet stolen. Happened too fast. It reinforced that a neck wallet worn under clothing (or a moneybelt if one prefers that arrangement) is the way to go. Retrieving cash or credit cards from your secreted device is momentarily inconvenient, but a lot less hassle than losing it entirely, then losing vacation time dealing with reporting the incident to the local authorities, canceling cards, notifying banks, etc. I surprisingly did get my wallet mailed back to me 3 months later, a bit scuffed up, but drivers license, cards, and all that were still inside. They only wanted the cash, and then pitched the wallet, which was somehow discovered and recovered. My thanks to the Athens Metro police, the Greek authorities, and the US embassy personnel - and I won't put myself in the position for it to happen again. The thieves are low-lifes but they're skilled. Get a neck or waist money belt, enjoy the piece of mind, keep the majority of your monetary valuables in it, and just a small amount of cash - or one card - out of it and in a more accessible place. But really keep that one place inaccessible to anyone else. Anything you're not prepared to lose stays in the neck wallet or moneybelt while you're out in public. Have a great and safe trip!
You don’t need a money belt in the US because you live there. You don’t need a passport to travel. If someone steals your credit card then it’s a small hassle to replace it. And you’re not moving around every few days with your bank trying to play catch up to you.
In short, the consequences are less when you are at “home”, wherever that is. The consequences increase dramatically when you leave home, especially going to another country.
Put one card in your money belt and keep another in a wallet. That way you’ll have a backup if you do get hit. Or better, just keep cash in your wallet and put the rest in a money belt.
Look at other types of money belts if you don’t like the waist ones. I prefer the hidden pocket. How about a bra stash for your credit card? Available yet fairly secure.
BTW, you are repeating a common fallacy in risk assessment. Didn’t happen = can’t happen. Don’t be that person! It’s a new probability every time!
I agree that there is no consensus about use; whatever makes you comfortable. I’m especially vigilant in crowds and move my wallet to one of many zipped pockets I sewed into my backpack. On public transport, all the backpack’s zippers are against my body, not facing outwards. I disagree about backpacks making you look like a tourist. They are used by many people all over who are not tourists. There are any number of things that give you away as a tourist more than a backpack, e.g., language, accent, clothing, cameras, visiting tourist sights, etc.
I find both the waist money belt and the neck wallet quite uncomfortable. So I wear the side pocket, the only down side is it bends our passports( but they are still usable). Once in Geneva we got off the plane and went down the hall to buy train tickets. Of course the personnel told us we had 5 minutes till the train was to leave. So we went running down the hall with my waist money belt hanging out unzipped and upside down!! But I didn't lose anything. The hidden pocket can be pulled out and returned if necessary.
Wear a money belt. Each of you. Or use a neck wallet. Never open it in public.
You keep your daily spending cash and a credit card for the day's use out of the money belt somewhere you can get to it when needed. This is not inside the money belt.
Just because you and no one you know has ever been pick pocketed doesn't mean it won't happen the next time you ride a subway or bus somewhere. I would rather have the slight inconvenience of having to dig out something in my money belt when needed that to find it is gone from wherever I kept it especially if that somewhere was in a backpack or something too far separated from my body. On a vacation, time is too valuable to waste it trying to get my passport and credit cards replaced. And you do realize no one is going to believe that email supposedly from you that starts "I am in London and have had all of my credit cards and Passport stolen so please wire me $1000 ..."
I've never used a money belt in all my travels and nothing has been stolen. However, I do wear a cross purse/bag when out and never take any more money than I need for that day and a credit card. The rest stays in the safe along with my passport. My father wears a cross messenger bag. We also never put anything in outer pockets that we want to lose and put all change and any credit cards away right after making a purchase.
I hate wearing money belts, other people swear by them. Wear whatever makes you fee comfortable.
i have gone to Europe for 16 of the last 18 years and have always worn a money belt. I have never heard of anyong getting pickpocketed when wearing a money belt properly but I have heard of lot of folks getting pickpocketed when not using a money belt. I keep my valuables, including passport, in my neck-hanging belt. I keep most things in the belt in zip-lock plastic bags. My money belt does not get sweaty nor irritating to my skin since I wear it inside my outer shirt but on top of my undershirt. We us cash almost exclusively in Europe so have no need to access our credit cards very often. Lots of places we have visited no longer take plastic so be prepared to have local currency on hand. I also carry a RS day bag every day but limit what I put into it so that if I get it ripped off it will not ruin my trip.
Using a daypack will NOT make you look like a tourist. Most Londoners carry them.
I have traveled to Europe independently for over 30 yrs, never worn a money belt, never a problem. I think organized tours want their participants to wear them to avoid any hassles.
Thanks to everyone who replied despite this question being asked before. Regarding "situational awareness", I define that as being mindfully aware of your surroundings. To me, it means being aware of what you see, hear, smell, and feel. It is the opposite of having your face in front of a screen. As for looking like a tourist, I can't stress about that. I will have a small purse-like backpack with interior zippered pockets for valuables. Anyone within earshot will hear the American accent. A big giveaway will be the luggage we cart as we walk from St. Pancras (arriving from Leicester) to our apartment. Regarding not needing a money belt in the US, I don't know the crime statistics - London vs. NYC vs. Boston vs. Houston, etc., etc. Suffice it to say that the big US cities I visited as a tourist where not familiar to me and there were crowds galore at the major tourist sites. Having valuables stolen in the US would be as unpleasant as anywhere else, I would imagine. I've traveled to major European cities quite a lot and did not use the money belt. Agreed that, as one poster said, "just because it didn't happen before doesn't mean it won't happen". The only places where I had problems was in New Orleans (purse stolen and man tried to force his way into the car with me) and in Rio de Janeiro. I was robbed 3 times in Rio, once by knife point. I also saw a woman get her purse taken off of her by a couple of thieves on a moped. I lived there for 9 months, incidentally. Again, thanks to everyone for replying. I agree with the posters who said you've got to go with what you're comfortable with after weighing the pros and cons of the options. THANKS!
Using a daypack will NOT make you look like a tourist. Most Londoners carry them.
Having been there last summer I respecfullly disagree. Yes, if you are 20 something a daypack is pretty much the norm. 30-40, a man purse or messenger bag. 50 or over, tourist. As far as crime in general-you will likely not be mugged or assaulted in Europe. That is, unfortunately, all to often in America’s cities. But pickpocketing, which is nearly extinct in America, is very common in Europe. So, do what makes you comfortable.
Americans seem not to have the manual dexterity to be good pickpockets, so I don't wear a money belt over here. Overseas, I keep valuables in a neck wallet which I don't find uncomfortable. I sometimes use a backpack for extra clothes, water, guidebook etc. but not for anything I couldn't afford to lose. I don't try not to look like a tourist, it's a losing battle and what's the point anyway?
Emma is probably right that we tend to overstress pickpocket hazards on this forum, just as some European visitors perhaps over-worry about being gunned down over here. The risks are real, but the unfamiliar ones scare us more, right?
Stan made a good point, pickpockets have better situational awareness than just about anyone. Just a moment of carelessness can cost you a lot of trouble and maybe money too. Keep your important stuff under your clothing, one way or another, not for heaven's sake in a backpack, whether you wear it in back or in front (which would sure be the dead giveaway of a tourist).
Emma - a Londoner has given you excellent advice and I agree with her entirely (I lived and worked in London for several years). Everyone in London carries a backpack. Put your passport and some of your money in a safe in your hotel room. Relax. What marks out American tourists for me is clothing (a lot of Americans seem to wear sneakers/trainers/tennis shoes and beige/khaki pants and a baseball cap) and the volume at which I hear American accents. If you want to be less visibly American speak quietly and blend in! This is tongue in check by the way! I am sure you will have a great trip.
The Metropolitan Police advice is to use a money belt "if you’re carrying a significant quantity of cash". Which really you don't need to do in the UK anyway.
Been to 76 countries in the World. The worst places for pickpockets are in Southern Europe, Barcelona, Rome, Madrid and Paris. Some Third World places are also a problem. Best country for no pickpockets are Japan/Spent about 6 weeks in the UK during the past 5 years and found it relatively save. Still, it pays to be vigilant.
Carry only what you need for a day in cash, with perhaps one credit card in your pocket and your passport and wallet in a money belt or neck wallet.
the figures don't look too bad.
The figures only account for people who reported a crime to the police. Unless a passport was stolen or an insurance claim needs to be made a lot of folks who are robbed don't bother to report it to the police. Also judging from the amount of the "beware of pickpockets" signs I've spotted at tourist sites and businesses, London metro stations aren't the only place pickpockets are at work.
London is an awesome, cute, and quaint city but it's not a crime free nirvana; use a money belt type device or the hotel room safe.
Locals are often surprised to hear about pickpockets.
My Vienna cousin was shocked to hear an attempt had been made on my DH as we were boarding a subway car. Thieves are professional, they can spot non-natives and know they can't help but be looking around more, and carrying more goodies than the typical local.
I would recommend a cross body messenger bag over a daypack, both because it's easy to clamp an arm over the top of it and have it look 'natural' in crowded conditions and because you're less likely to be asked to check it at attractions compared to a daypack.
On the London underground and in crowds, we will hold our packs close to the chest with arms through the straps.
Personally, when I see people holding onto their goods like this I think of them as targets. Holding onto your goods for dear life makes a statement. If you just hold the bag down in front of you by the handle you will look more comfortable. Just be situationally aware, as you say. Surely, you will notice someone crawling along the floor of the tube... I would.
I think putting your items low in your bag, attached, or in a interior zipped pocket is fine. A year or two ago I posted this question and it was 'no' to the backpack storage. I didn't listen, attached my items to my bag and was fine. Sometimes I pulled my small cross body purse out of the bag and wore it. As you are out for the day, I'm assuming your back up items will be in your suitcase in your room or separated from your daily money in your bag. It is my opinion, which is not wildly popular here, that money belt type items just help you organize your two batches of financials, but you don't need them for security unless that system makes you feel the most comfortable. There is nothing right or wrong with money belt items, just what makes you feel comfortable. Should you lose the day's money or a CC to pickpockets, which is unlikely, you have one phone call to make. Not a big deal, IMO. Hold harmless: I did wear my money belt on the RS tour I took because they asked us to do so...I am cooperative.
Most people who are pick-pocketed forget to mention they were careless in some manner. Interior zipper not zipped, back pocket used, bag set down, etc. That aspect rarely comes up in these conversations.
That being said there are times I use a money belt for organization in transport. If traveling solo after security, I use a leg wallet, so I can go to the toilet on the plane and not have any of my financials in my PI under my seat. I've recently made a bunch of scarves with hidden pockets so that's a rather convenient backup location instead of the belt, IMO, but haven't really tested it yet.
Oh, and there are plenty of pickpockets in the USA. You just don't look like a tourist... That being said, looking like a tourist never bothered me. I am a tourist. I talk to the scammers. I talk to strangers. No problems. Keep your personal space. >>Just do what makes you the most comfortable.
London is an awesome, cute, and quaint city
Cute and quaint is most definitely not what London could be described as!
Always access my money belt in public. If someone is going to get at it good luck as it's over my mid section. How exactly is a pickpocket going to get that money? Yes, I lift weights.
Claudia, you go girl!
I’m leaving London right now after a fabulous 5 day visit and I didn’t use my belt loop pouch this trip. I use a crossbody purse and my little wallet containing some cash & main credit card is fastened to the bottom lining. Spare credit card & debit card are in an interior zipped pocket. On the tube or in tight crowds I keep my hand on the zipper, and never set my bag down, but otherwise didn’t feel my pouch was necessary—you should do what feels best for you.
I do see people wearing their daypacks on their front on public transit here -- usually Asian tourists who have probably been warned about American thieves? But I would seldom/never carry my wallet in my backpack (maybe under a sweater and other things ) in the main compartment -- and that's at home
A key point of any safety advice is not to put all your eggs in one basket. A money belt or hidden pocket provides deep storage for the majority of cash, credit cards and ID that you don't plan to use on a particular day or half-day. It's also firmly attached to your body, making it harder to lose or put down "for a minute" (which is why money hats and money scarves make little sense to me). A more accessible wallet holds just what you expect to need during the day - one credit card and a portion of cash that you would be less upset if you lose.
"London is an awesome, cute, and quaint city"
Cute? Small children, puppies and kittens maybe.
Quaint? Didn't we use that word in the 19th century?:-)
Even if there were 10 times as many incidents of theft as has been reported i'd still be happy with the odds that the average person is not going to be a victim of theft.
This is yet another fallacy people make in risk assessement - assuming that because the probability is low it means that you don’t need to mitigate the risk.
Risk is probability times consequence. So if the consequence is bad enough, you still need to mitigate even when the probability is low.
When traveling, the consequences of lost passports, stolen bank cards, etc are MUCH greater than at home. It’s harder to replace them while in the move. You can even end up missing a flight if the loss occurs at the wrong time. For this reason, we mitigate the risk of losing our cards/passport by taking extra precautions. To do otherwise is foolish - especially if you can impact others in your group.
As Cindy alludes pickpocketing in London may be a low probability event but with high consequences. Replacing stolen stuff is upsetting, difficult. I have long worn my money belt, gotten used to it. To each his/her own with this one.
I typically don't use a money belt in England.
Providing people with more detail about a situation, rather than
anecdote and hearsay, can only help them make informed decisions.
As usual, emma makes sense. After several trips to London where I tend to take the Tube a lot, I'm not worried much about pickpockets, don't clutch a backpack fiercely to my chest, but OTOH I don't carry my ID and credit cards and money in one convenient package/bag that dangles carelessly off my shoulder. The day's walking-around money, my phone, and maybe a credit card stashed away in trouser or inner jacket pockets, the rest of the stuff (passport etc.) either back at the hotel or in a hideaway pouch in the small of my back under the clothes. Except for the camera, there's not much in the shoulder bag that would cause grief if it went missing.
From experience, I know some of my own vulnerabilities. I'm more concerned about dropping or losing things than having them swiped off my person. Which is why although on some online travel forums, some Londoners yammer constantly about using contactless payment on TfL, I'm sticking with an Oyster card. If in the rush and crush at a Tube station I drop my Oyster card? It's an inconvenience and relatively small expense to fix that. If, after tapping in or out I fumble putting my credit card or phone back in my pocket and thus lose it? I don't. want. to think. about the hassle and time it will take to fix that. If I lived there and my everyday routine involved TfL journeys I'd probably do the contactless thing, but on vacation I'm certainly out of my usual routine and don't want to be waving my phone around while navigating the crowds to take the Tube.
I was interested in the money pocket, but realized that a belt is required! The products available seem to hark back to the days when the men carried the money and the women carried their parasols! Since I'll be wearing leggings most of the time I think I'm going to make myself a pocket just large enough for a credit card and some bills that can be safety pinned inside the waistband. Or velcro'd, if I get fancy. I don't want a bulky or annoying solution, but I certainly don't want the hassle of cancelling and replacing stolen credit cards while travelling.
Cloupy, you might be interested in this Eazymate. Just wear it under your leggings, not outside like the picture shows.
Thanks for the Eazymate link. It is interesting, but looks like a bit of overkill for me. Good for runners who want to listen to to music or podcasts, though.
I'm not a runner and I don't put my phone in the Eazymate. I like it because it lies flat under my clothes, even with my passport, extra cards, extra money and emergency information in it. I always have those on me in the zipped front pockets. Like with most money belts, I don't access it except in a toilet stall.
If you are planning to get into that little pocket while on the go, you show where your valuables are to everyone around you at the time. Just sayin'.
I don't see it. Latch is on front of belt just under my chest. Pickpocket would have to reach up my tucked in shirt (I have a flat stomach), undo the belt, and take it away. Ain't happening to Big Mike! Even a weak person could put up a struggle, my friends.
I say bring it on.
It's true that in London the chances of getting "jumped or jacked " in the streets American style are pretty, pretty slight or nil.
In London on this security stuff, I wear the hidden pocket and sometimes the neck pouch, depending on the weather, how hot it is. I also wear the "waist belt." too.
I don't carry any sort of day bag, chest pack, or back pack when out and about, taking the bus, the Tube, etc...not needed. I'm vigilant, aware of the surroundings, etc, but not super vigilant in crowds such as on packed Tube platforms.
Discovered an interesting trick to foil Pick-pockets. Take a large fork, place it in your pocket over your wallet with the tines pointing upward and inward over the wallet. Try this at home and you will quickly see that the fork makes it near impossible for someone to steal your wallet.
A mousetrap works even better.
A fork or mousetrap might work, but they would also keep me from spending any of my own money! Except on band-aids.
This is my 2nd post. Two in one night. I'm on a roll!
We just completed an enjoyable 8 day trip to London, arriving home just last night. Some observations/take-aways from our trip:
I carried a small (for me), PacSafe bag. For the size-not to big. For the pocket organization-I wanted a place for my phone, separate from the main portion of the bag. For the color-black, in case my husband wanted to use it (he didn't). I liked the bag-already owned it, I sometimes use it here at home. The bag wasn't heavy, didn't cut into my neck. The bag was not overkill. I carried it cross-body, not taking it off randomly so reduced the possibility of losing/misplacing it to zero. Just like I would wear it at home.
We did use Money belts. Both by Eagle creek. An around the waist version for me, and the belt looped version for my husband. Were they comfortable or enjoyable to wear? No. But we did forgot we were wearing them on portions of most days. I trialed a lot of money belt types before we traveled to get the feel of them, and I think the belt looped version is more comfortable than neck, cross-body, bra type or the waist one. In them we carried--Passports, copies of each others passport page, passport photos, cash, credit cards, travel insurance info and a few other numbers.
Use of Hotel Room Safe--Our room didn't have one, surprisingly, so the money belts came in handy. I'm not a fan of leaving items at the hotel desk/safe anyway, so it was not a deal breaker for us.
Backpacks/bags--It was really a mixed bag :). Lots of people carrying backpacks, tote bags, purses, grocery bags, man bags, briefcases, you name it. Tourists and locals alike. I did note that biking type messenger bags seemed to be the least used unless you were in the delivery business. In our light backpacks we carried snacks for the day, rain jacket & hat, city & subway maps, water and chocolate. No cash or wallet in the backpacks, even though I had a Travelon locking/security one.
Passports--We were asked to present them once while in country. At Harrod's dept. store for VAT tax. Otherwise a drivers license was sufficient.
Cash/Money--No problem getting GBP from the ATMs. We used the ones at a bank. We did exchange some USD for GBP at Travelex in the Airport for immediate cash upon arrival. Maybe not the greatest rate, but I felt better having some cash. As luck would have it, an ATM machine appeared, AFTER the Travelex stop.
Food--We had some great meals. It isn't necessary to bring or snacks or drinks for day outings unless you want to, as there is a Café/snack shop seemingly or every corner, at least in a block! We liked the Pret Mangers.
The walking tours were nice, as were the museums. Again, snack shops in everyone of them.
Transportation--We flew Virgin Atlantic. We Walked, A Lot. Using the subway/tube exclusively, even to and from LHR airport. We found walking provided better viewing of the sights for us, make choices on the fly, and allowed us to eat as much chocolate and biscuits as we wanted.
Packing--We bought new lighter rolling suitcases, as ours were old and heavy. We were 27 and 28 pounds going over. Not as light as some, but I'm working on it. We had everything we needed and some extra. We checked our bags both ways. We stayed in one hotel the entire time, so only had to get the bags to and from the airport on the tube, which was fine.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to London. Many posts here were helpful. Thank you.
@gagetgirl....Thanks for the interesting report. It seems your husband used the Eagle Creek "hidden pocket" when you mention belt loop. Your observations on wearing/carrying bags are accurate, my observations exactly, ie very mixed by both locals and tourists, just a personal choice up to the individual. I don't use one at all, never have either.
Thank you Fred. I'm glad that you enjoyed my write-up.
You are correct. It was Eagle Creek's Hidden Pocket.
@ gagetgirl....Eagle Creek is the only brand I use too, my hidden pocket and neck pouch are both from Eagle Creek.
When I was in London last May/June, I just used a cross body purse. I was aware of my surroundings and had no problems.
We just returned from a 3 week trip to England with 4 nights in London. We traveled solo, made our own itinerary, and used public transportation. We took trains and buses. The tube was too crowded and claustrophobic. Trains and buses were nice because you could see out and, compared to the tube, you weren't packed in like sardines (our experience; others will have a different viewpoint). After reading the responses to the post, I became a bit more concerned about safety and bought a neck pouch. However, i never used it. Valuables were put in a deep zippered compartment in my little daypack. The compartment was against my back so a pickpocket would have to be highly skilled to reach in between my back and the backpack, unzip the compartment, and then reach down into it to grab the items. (Not to say that it can't happen) My husband put some items into his backpack and the wallet in a velcroed pants pocket. We did not get robbed. It was interesting to note that we saw locals in the few cities we stayed, including London, walking around with phones in their hands and taking out wallets from pockets, purses, and backpacks. The only place that had an unsafe vibe was some areas of downtown Leicester. Regarding looking like a tourist, I really can't say and don't care about that. I use all types of backpacks in my daily life and I wasn't going to change how I like to dress, etc. to look like someone's idea of a local.
I've been to 32 countries and have always used a neck wallet. It is thin and I only carry a picture ID, one debt card, and one credit card. Never my passport because I have yet to use it except at airports and border crossings which can be planned for.
You will not need money with the exception of a few pound coins. Those are for convenience with parking meters, etc. I took 10 one pound coins to London this month and came home with 5. Credit cards are used almost everywhere. You can even buy a pack of gum with them.
The only place that had an unsafe vibe was some areas of downtown Leicester.
Interesting because the stats say amongst cities of comparable sizes if anything the crime rate in Leicester is on the lower side of average.
"A mousetrap works even better" - I just tried that and it hurts. Now I'm gonna try whacking the mice in my garage with a money belt.
Is it a good idea to carry my passport in my money belt? Leave it hidden in my room?
"Should I take my Passport with me or hide it in my room?" Now that is a very interesting question. I use to always carry my passport with me, in my money belt. But I have changed that up recently, and on this last trip I let the hotel keep it in their safe with a provision that they would remind me on check out to take back my passport; just so I would not forget. Not sure if there is a standard correct answer anymore. I would not hide it in the hotel room. If it then goes missing, you are in a seriously difficult situation, between you and your hotel and its staff. If you keep it on your self, you risk getting it soiled-wet, or there is the rare event that it drops out, or you left your money belt at some toilet or you get mugged, and if mugged they will ask for your money belt. It started to make more sense to leave it in the Hotel Safe. Even if I forgot to take it out of the Hotel, on my way home, the difficulty of missing the flight, going back to the hotel, and all the other bother of taking a later flight, is much less than if you actually lose the Passport. Putting everything in a backpack makes no sense to me. That whole backpack can be gone in 5 seconds. Spread the risk out. Always have at least one back up plan, so that what ever happens, you can quickly switch gears and recover. That means you use multiple things: You have more than one debit or credit card, held in different places. Never depend on one nest egg, of Money, ID, etc, that determines your ability to get home. The Passport is the one thing I can't find an easy backup for.
London is populated with millions of people who go about their business every day without money belts.
Use a credit card and/or a bank card. Maybe put them somewhere other than your wallet. There's probably a number on the back of the cards to call in case you lose them. Copy that number and put it someplace that isn't where you keep the cards. Just in case.
If it's jacket weather, wear one with zippered pockets so stuff just won't fall out and disappear.
ATM's are everywhere. Withdraw enough cash to get by for a day or two. You may find you need to use surprisingly little cash.
Don't look or behave like a confused gawking tourist. Tourists aren't targeted because they are tourists. Tourists can be targeted because they often stand out, in appearance and behavior, as distracted, confused and perhaps oblivious to what's going on around them.
Minimize the stuff you carry around with you. It just gets heavier as the hours go by. The less you have to lose -- to accident or theft -- the better.
(My visits are usually when the temps are a bit cool. I keep passport, etc., in zippered jacket pockets. Wallet may be there, too, may not be. Used to lug a camera bag around. Now I just stuff a phone in a front jeans pocket. I buy 100 pounds at my departure airport because the last thing I want to do after flying across the North Atlantic is spend more time at the airport. Once upon a time I lived just west of London, was in the city very often, carried my wallet in a back pocket and nothing ever happened. I did not wear bright white American gym shoes and strap an oversized pack to my back.)
I just returned from a Rick Steves' London Tour and did not wear a money belt nor felt the need to use one. I kept my Passport, the bulk of money (both British and American) and photocopies of my credit/debit cards back in the hotel room (in the event the credit card was lost or stolen), locked up in the safe. For the day, I had in my wallet about £20 (plus the coins in my pocket), my credit card, a photocopy of my Passport (copied before I left home), an emergency contact sheet and my driver's license. When I was traveling on the Tube, I relocated my wallet to an inside pocket of my jacket, which I then zipped up. If I did not have my jacket on, I had my wallet in my front pocket with my hand over it. The only place I saw a sign indicating a high pickpocket/crime area was around Buckingham Palace. Overall, I felt very safe walking/traveling around London.
Concerning the Passport, the only time I needed to present my Passport (aside from the airport) was when I was checking into the hotel. Additionally, our guide indicated that the police cannot request identification from you unless there is a valid reason. As such, do not carry your Passport on you...keep it locked up in the safe. It's not worth the trouble if its lost.
These are just my thoughts. If you feel safer wearing a money belt then by all means, wear one.
If you wear your waist money belt with the pouch in the small of your back, it's much more comfortable.
Also, put your cards and money in a ziploc bag before putting all in the pouch, to avoid stuff getting sweaty.
I prefer a money belt with an elastic waist, no fastenings; as once I wore one with a clip fastening and it came off and I nearly dropped it down the loo.
I will be in London next month in a hotel with no room safes, and will just put my pp in my money belt while I'm out and about.
I'd hate to leave it in the front desk safe by accident, and remember when I'm on my way to my next stop!
Side note about the advice to write down the number to call for a lost card -- the 800 number doesn't work overseas, and the number that says "call collect" does NOT switch to the bank's bill if you're using a cell phone (maybe if you can get your hotel to put through a collect call )
Ive been to Europe three times in the last 2 years, traveled extensively, never used a money belt nor felt the need for one- I have a small backpack type purse- kept it crossways in front of my body, and kept my money, passport, and valuables inside a zipper pocket. Traveled on public crowded transportation and always had my hand on my bag-as you should in any city just be conscious of your surroundings and youll be just fine.
I never used a money belt until my 10th trip in 1999, of which 7 of the trips were solo trips. Like you I didn't believe it was necessary nor needed, the first three trips in the 1970s using a money belt was suggested to me but I didn't know what they were talking about.
The next trip was in 2001 when I decided to use wear the Eagle Creek "hidden pocket" plus having the Eagle Creek fanny/waist belt on. I've been using both ever since.