money belt solution

I am an experienced traveler. Always use the money belt for major things like credit cards, passports, etc. But what I need is a safe and easy solution to just the daily access to money without having to unbutton, unzip, and other awkward things while standing in line to buy a ticket to the Louvre or something. How do two women (whose clothing rarely has a secure pocket) keep the cash needed for the day, one's museum pass, metro card, etc., and even a credit card handy , but secure? I am also worried about the ability to use a US credit card because of the new chip technology --Rick says to use the cash machines instead, but that requires carrying more cash than I normally like to do. Suggestions? Thanks

Posted by Michael Schneider
New Paltz, NY
7433 posts

There really isn't a way to carry items non-money belt items securely. If a picket pocket wants to rob you the odds are with them. Money belts simply cut your losses and aggravation, you run the same risk of theft with or without them. In regards to magnetic strip credit cards don't worry about. Most all merchants that deal with tourists can still handle our old-fashioned cards. The only problems you might encounter are ticket-machines at the train stations, and self-service gas pumps.

Posted by Leigh
417 posts

I keep larger sums of money and credit/debit cards I won't be using in the money belt and I do not access it when out. I figure out how much money I think I will need for the day, and maybe keep a credit card in either a zipped or buttoned pocket, a purse or a bag. It isn't secure, but I try to keep an eye on it, and since it isn't a large amount of cash or my only credit card, I could recover easily enough if something happened to it. (So far, nothing ever has happened to it!) I have used my non-chip credit card to pay for some hotels and to make some purchases in stores without a problem. I do usually use cash more than cards. Yes, in the money belt I have more cash than I would ever carry at home, but that is why it is secured in the money belt. Unless you are renting a car, when it might be a problem, you should be fine without a chip and pin card.

Posted by Sean
New York
148 posts

I usually put the cash in the inside pocket of my jacket. If wearing a jeans, I put the cash in my "watch pocket", that little pocket on the right side of the jeans. It's too tight for pickpocketers to stick their hands in it. Another trick is to put the money in the guidebook. No thief would want to steal a guidebook, unless maybe to research "wealthy tourist hotspots"

Posted by Jeff
Vancouver, WA, USA
322 posts

I have a small cloth drawstring pouch in my front pants pocket. The drawstring is tied to a belt loop, and makes it difficult for fingers to get inside. Not foolproof, but better than nothing.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4515 posts

"Another trick is to put the money in your guide book" !! Hands up everyone who has, or knows someone who has, left their guide book in a restaurant. And what do you do with the money-laden book when you go to the loo? Top marks for worst idea of the month.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

How long does it take to hollow out a guidebook? And, do you put your pistol and cyanid capsules in there as well?

Posted by Sean
New York
148 posts

Even if you forget your guidebook at the restaurant, you're guaranteed to find the money back. In this day and age, no one opens a book.
It's also a great way to keep your Euro bills brand new. Happy trails!

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5383 posts

I wear a messenger bag, cross body. It is what I wear all the time. My stuff is handy when I want it to be handy. It closes at the top with a zipper, then a flap comes down over the entire thing, fastening at the bottom. I have a purse that is somewhat similar, but it zips at the top and then folds over on itself, fastening at the bottom. A bit more stylish, and far, far safer than putting money in a zippered pocket or an inside jacket pocket. Money in a guide book is possibly the worst suggestion I have heard in a long while.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5640 posts

Since you're a woman, let's address what will work for you, not what may work for a man. I have a small crossbody purse that I use for those things that wouldn't go into a money belt. It NEVER comes off me while out in public. That way I can't accidentally leave it somewhere. I don't keep any more than the days worth of cash and other things like tickets, etc. that wouldn't be the end of the world if something happened. My small purse has several zippers. I put the money and credit or debit card in a zippered area that is on the back of the purse so it's against my body. I have another crossbody purse that's a little larger and can hold a water bottles map and guidebook along with my other things. That has a back zippered area and a larger zippered area that has a flap that folds over the zipper and has a clasp. Again, I never take it off my body while I'm out. The trick is to make it hard for pickpockets and to avoid accidentally leaving something behind. It's not unheard of if you put something down and then get distracted and walk off without it.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8721 posts

I do as Andrea and Jo and carry a good purse,, can't imagine not carrying one.. I withdraw cash from ATM keep bulk of it and passport and cc in money belt or at hotel safe and use cash for daily expenses. I just use CC for hotels , train tickets and big ticket item.. figure better to use cash .. just the way I was raised. Since hotels and flights are on CC get points that way anyways. I use ATM card to withdraw cash from chequing account, I thought most folks did that . Ruth, money carried in a money belt is DEEP STORAGE you never go into it in public period. Keep 50 euros in purse for stuff.

Posted by Laura B
San Francisco
786 posts

I carry an "old-lady" bag with shoulder strap in cross-body position it's big enough to carry the pages from RS guidebook needed for the day, plus snacks, spare tissues, sunglasses, small coin purse, folding cash for the day, but it'sd not a huge leather tote-bag. (It's very similar to what I carry for everyday use, just scruffier looking.) Cash and credit cards are strapped to my body in a money belt.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3180 posts

Personally I use a belt-loop pouch. My belt loops through it and it folds over on itself and has Velcro and zippers. Everything goes in there. It is as secure as a money belt or neck wallet as no one can access it without my knowing. But I can easily access it when I need to. But that only works if you wear a belt and probably not for most women. I know many ladies keep a wallet with spending money and/or a card in their purse. A travel purse that has extra folds and zippers will be more secure than a regular purse that snaps shut or just zippers from the top. And of course it's more secure if worn across the shoulders and never hung over the back of a café chair. I also carry a day bag with me, most people do. Spending money can be stored in a pocket inside the day bag. Even if someone quickly rummages around inside, they likely won't find the pocket with your wallet. And even if they did, your losses are minimal and not trip-ruining.

Posted by Sean
New York
148 posts

But Douglas it's not a good idea to take a day bag with you, in the first place. Train thieves will try to grab it from you by force.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11663 posts

Except in the US, I have never heard of, and certainly never seen, "Train Thieves" forcefully removing day packs. There is much less mugging here in Europe than in other places or cities. Pick pocketing, yes. Mugging - very rare.

Posted by Sean
New York
148 posts

Not really, it's just that I've been reading trip reports and many people reported having been mugged on the metro. Some well-dressed thieves tried to take away their backpacks, and the other passengers pretended nothing was happening. Excuse me if I come off as a stroll, I'm just trying to help.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4515 posts

"I'm only trying to help" ... always the cry of the person who is definitely NOT trying to help, but to be noticed and be a gadfly. How is it helpful to speak of "train thieves", I'd like to know, unless you have personal knowledge and not a tale from a cousin's friend or have read a scare piece in a local newspaper written by someone whose specialty is trips to Las Vegas.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5640 posts

I don't recall any trip reports where "Train Thieves" ripping bags off people forcefully was mentioned. Maybe we can be told where to look for that information.

Posted by Sean
New York
148 posts

It was a trip report on Fodors. I don't know if these people make things up, but
one woman reported that her son got mugged at knife point And another reported having her bag forcefuly picked by thieves on the metro.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5640 posts

I've been on this board for years and don't recall hearing about what you are essentially describing as muggings. I'm sure it does happen in Europe from time to time, but I don't think it happens there like it does here. I carry my purse here the same way I do in Europe.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

I got one of the around the neck passport pouches. i do have to undo a couple buttons to get at it, but thats better than dropping trow. so far the only issue i had using my not Chip-n-Pin (CnP) credit card was to use try and buy train tickets. I was able to use my card to retreive my tickets. And as far as using it to w/d $$, no problem. also, ive been buying shirts with pockets. two (2) if at all possible. That way i can put my camera in one and other things like tickets in the other. my last trip, it worked great. happy trails.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12686 posts

One of the strength of this site, is that posters share their knowledge gain from experience and not what they read or think they might know no matter how smart they think they are. Give us the detail of your experience so we can draw our own conclusions. If you have been mugged, tell us the circumstances. Just repeating someone else's experience is rarely helpful.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
1156 posts

....And, do you put your pistol and cyanid capsules in there as well?.... I keep my trained rattlesnake in mine .

Posted by Sarah
Here and there
79 posts

I carry a large-ish purse when traveling and just keep a wallet in that. I'm a fan of the Longchamp Le Pliage series because they're easy to pack, are lightweight, hold a lot of stuff, and are quite common in Europe. They're actually significantly less expensive there than in the USA. I realize that I'm in the minority on this site, in that I don't use a money belt, but I tend to either stay with friends and family where I feel secure leaving my passport and credit cards and/or tend to use a hotel room safe to leave my passport and credit cards. So far, in living in two European countries and four non-European countries, and spending up to three months in hotels for work a couple of years, I haven't had any issues with pickpocketing or theft from my hotel room. Not to say that it can't happen, because clearly it does, and maybe I've just been insanely lucky (not super likely), because I'm often hyper-alert of my surroundings because of where I've lived (more likely), and/or because I'm often mistaken for a student even though I'm well in to my 30s and don't look like I have much of value (more likely), but I've never had a problem with pickpocketing or theft. If a money belt makes you feel more secure, then by all means do it because I'm all for people doing what makes them feel comfortable so they can enjoy their trip. However, I wouldn't worry too much about keeping a wallet with your day's cash, metro pass, museum tickets, etc. in your purse or something. While it's possible you could get pickpocketed, it's not super, super likely and you'd only be out your daily cash, a metro ticket, etc. if you did. Probably things that wouldn't be too hard to replace in the unlikely event you are pickpocketed.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1730 posts

I stopped carrying a purse in daily life years ago. When I had kids I seemed unable to keep track of both a diaper bag and a purse, so just put my stuff in the diaper bag. Then for a while I carried a money clip and ID in a pocket. But the problem, as you say, is that women's pants do not have reliable pockets. I now keep a slim men's wallet in my bra. I don't root around in my cleavage, I keep it up high, near where the shoulder strap starts to get thicker. It shows a bit but I don't care. I have rather, well, ample storage. I can access the wallet easily and mostly discreetly. When I travel, I use a waist money belt to divide my assets. And perversely, I carry a purse. Although I think of it as a day bag, and it's a cross body messenger bag that holds crap that at home would be in my car. I also keep a zippered coin purse for euro coins, and keep metro pass and hotel key in that, in my pocket or bra. Incidentally, I work retail, and I'd say that approximately 10% of women use their bra for money or cards. Another large percentage have a purse and organized wallet. The remaining have to root around in a ginormous bag hunting for their money.

Posted by June
Edmonton, Alberta
381 posts

I use a small pacsafe purse cross body, rectangular, just big enough for boarding passes,passport for the travel days, cash and cc slots, lipgloss & tissues. I keep it on most times under my coat, so I rarely take it off during the day. I have used it for many trips, love it.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3252 posts

I carry my stuff in a small Maruca purse which is a cross body, small, lightweight fabric bag. Made in Boulder Co and lots of cute designs. It has a matching wallet with a cross body strap as well. Inside that is my passport, money, credit cards, etc. I tie the strap of it to the strap of the purse so I don't set it down by mistake. I never take off that purse when traveling. I also use the same purse when I am at home so I am used to knowing it's there. I will carry a separate bag for camera, day stuff, etc...but the other purse is all I have. I have never and would never wear a money belt...just way too uncomfortable and hot for me to even think about...(this is from someone who cuts out all the tags in my clothes because they bother me) If you were feeling uncomfortable... like on the metro or somewhere... you could always use the wallet around your neck and under your clothes.
If I read all these scare stories I don't know that I would travel to Europe let alone venture out of my hotel room:))) More than 30 trip, often alone, no problems:)

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2193 posts

I won't dispute the oft-repeated Helpline statistics about how bad crime is in the U.S. – more muggings, shootings, murders, rapes, etc. than pretty much any other place on Earth apparently. Still, how many of you have been mugged or pickpocketed while on vacation anywhere in the U.S.? I travel a lot...I know many folks who travel a lot. I know of only one person who has ever been mugged/rolled while on a trip, and it was his own fault for trying to walk back to his hotel from the French Quarter at 2 am. IMHO, green tourists are more likely to be pickpocketed in a city like Paris than they are of experiencing any type of crime in the tourist areas of Chicago. You really don't need a money belt in much of Europe, but you certainly do in the cities with infamous reputations for pickpocketing. We just don't have pickpocketing here, and tourists don't really get mugged here either like some seem to suggest happens alot. If one wants to travel totally crime-free, he should go to Japan or Korea. BTW, when I use a money belt in Europe, it's the neck-pouch variety...worn under shirt, messenger bag style. Valuables are in the money belt, and smaller daily spending cash, metro pass, etc. are in front jeans pocket for ease of access.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3692 posts

Like others.. I use a small purse (7.5 x 8") cross-body for everything important and I never take it off. I'm like Terry kathryn, I can't stand anything on me that's not absolutely necessary.. I even hate carrying a purse that's why mine is really small. Last 6 trips have been in summer when it was really, really hot and a money belt would drive me nuts. When I'm in a crowd I clutch my purse in my hand, even though it's around my neck, and if anyone even dared to touch it they would be very, very sorry.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10500 posts

Here's another solution, but it only works during the colder months of the year. Keep your wallet and passport in an internal pocket of your coat, preferably one that you can seal with a button or zipper. Inconspicous, easy for you to access and nearly impossible for a pick-pocket to reach without you noticing. "I am also worried about the ability to use a US credit card because of the new chip technology" It isn't new, and just about anyone who wants business from tourists will accept a magnetic swipe card. There are exceptions, of course, but it rarely is deal-breaker.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA, USA
334 posts

I use ATM and withdraw the cash. When I am purchasing train tickets I either get in line and use my credit card to buy it, or I have withdrawn enough cash previously to have for that day's travel purposes. Like others here, I carry my day of 50 euro,a credit card, and small coin purse in my shoulder bag. Everything else is in my money belt and worn daily, too. By law in European countries you must have your actual passport on your person. I keep the photocopy in the safe.