Security in Europe

Hello all,
I have been to Europe numerous times and (thankfully) have never had a problem. I know Rick pushes money belts, but I just cannot wear the darn things. They are so uncomfortable and sweaty. I also know that people wear the heavy travel vests. Not my style. There may not be an answer to my question, but has anyone found a comfortable solution for storing valuables on your body? I also never carry my passport, I leave it at the hotel. Has anyone had a passport stolen from a hotel room? Thanks JonnaRob, Orange, CA

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8785 posts

jonna, I have been travelling to Europe for many decades, and I personally only use a moneybelt while in country to country transit. I only put my passport and CC and Atm card in it ( not train tickets etc that some folks cram in there) and since I am generally only wearing it a few hours every week or so its not that bad. The rest of the time all that "stuff" ( cc , atm card, passport, and bulk of cash) stays in hotel safe. I have never had an issue with it,, and am happy with that solution for me. I carry a "normal" purse, but it has features that make it a good travel purse. It has a full flap that "clicks" shut covering its top zippered opening. Inside it has a zippered pocket, so if just doing a daytrip and I want to carry my passport ( just in case I miss train and have to grab a hotel room etc) I just keep stuff in the zippered inside compartment. Three layers of protection to get to it. Purse is lightweight but strong nylon , with wide strap and I wear it cross body style Thats what I do and it seems to work for me.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10590 posts

If you travel during the cooler months of the year, just put your wallet in a sealable internal coat pocket.

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
477 posts

Hi Joanna, I also never carry my passport, I leave it at the hotel. Has anyone had a passport stolen from a hotel room? You need to be aware that you are required to carry your passport or national identity card when traveling in the Schengen area, not just when crossing borders. You need to be able to prove your identity and citizenship if checked by the police, immigration officer, revenue officers etc... If you are unable to do so, they are entitled to detain you until such time as they have satisfied your identity. A few weeks back I was travelling by train between Lausanne and Geneva, when we were checked by police offers who got on at one of the stations along the way. From our carriage, they took a Swiss (loudly shouting: "but I'm Swiss!") of the train to be identified later... Jim.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
849 posts

Just wear a crossover purse (there are some bags like Kipling that allow you to fasten your wallet/other valuables to the inside of the bag so it won't just fall out or get snatched easily). I always leave my passport in the hotel as well. In all my travels, no money belt.

Posted by Wray
Boston, ma, usa
323 posts

Hi Jonna, I wear a moneybelt when in transit, after US airport security. This is mainly for trips to the airplane restroom incase someone wants to fiddle with my carryon while I'm gone. I think I am one of the few that wears a leg pouch as I dislike the waist and neck pouches. I always wear bootcut pants in transit. Sometimes, I skip the moneybelt altogether and just use a passport holder that I can carry cross body. I then usually leave my passport(PP) and one credit card in the hotel or flat. If I carry my PP during the day at my destination in my cross body purse, I make sure someone can't reach in and grab it. I either put it in a zippered compartment or attach its container to my purse. If I were to be mugged, they can have anything they want, including my PP. My daughter, on the other hand, lived and traveled in Europe for 7 years and never used a money belt and has never lost her PP. I am just one of those that is extra cautious (Insurance career) and I am just as cautious when in the USA. Wray

Posted by akros
17 posts

This was a real problem for us. We tried money belts, neck wallets, etc. - travel partner has been known to drive away in rental car with security wallet on the top of the car! We finally bought shirts with zippered security pockets. Passport, money, credit cards never leave this pocket except for in the hotel room. For daily spending, we both have a front pocket wallet with the day's spending money and one credit card. Works for us.

Posted by Maryam
Washington, DC
766 posts

I do wear a money belt, but the kind I have would require you to wear a belt with it (which I almost always do in my regular life). Rather than wrap around the body, it has two loops that would go through the belt on the pants. I find it more comfortable, and very easy to access when need be. I like carrying my things with me, so the money belt is a must. I do have a cross-body messenger bag that I also use with inside pockets that can be zipped. I find that to be pretty safe as well. For added security, you could safety pin the zipper to the bag, and it would be rather impossible to open for a thief.
In cool weather, coats with inside pockets work great for carrying almost anything (LLBean, EddieBauer, NorthFace, etc. have nice ones).

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7927 posts

I carry my passport. It's not only your only valid ID in Europe, it also shows when you entered the country - and proves you are there legally. Like the US, Europe has illegal immigration issues. That said, more often than not the police know you are American and know their immigration issues aren't with Americans. If you did have an issue, the police would most likely let you go to the hotel to get your passport. I still think some sort of secure, inside your clothes, wallet is a good idea for extra money, credit cards, etc.; anything else really is accessible to thieves. I've tried a few options, moneybelt, neck wallet, leg wallet and none is exactly perfect. My wife prefers a neck wallet, worn around your neck and under an armpit inside your shirt (tie a knot in the cord to get it the right length) and see if you like that. Whatever you use, make sure the pockets are plastic lined (or put your stuff in a ziplock) to keep your stuff from getting sweaty.

Posted by steve
troy, ny
387 posts

i recently returned from spain and carried a messenger bag. i was amazed by the # of men carrying them.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

Jonna, Valuables is relative. for some it maybe a baby for others it could be a cheap watch. When i travel i travel light and that includes blingz. no blingz for me. i use a casio watch 24/7/365. other "valuables" is my credit card and cash. my only other "valuables" are my cameras. Eventhough they are the pocket style, they hold my pictures. If they arent on me, then im either dead or sleeping. i bought a small camera case that goes over my belt to hold one camera and spare batteries and the other goes in my shirt pocket. my other "valuable", my passport is around my neck in one of those necklase pouches. That it. your mileagle may vary. happy trails.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
3117 posts

I have a raincoat which I wear a lot when traveling. The coat has a breast pocket on either side; they hold wallet and other valuables at times. I wear a money belt turned to the back. I hardly notice it there.

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

I will probably be hung by my hair for heresy for saying this on Rick Steves' site (just like the amazing stone inlay scene of St. Zoe in the Siena Duomo), but I don't use a money belt or anything "special." Hate it! I carry a large, fashionable purse (what better reason to shop in Italy!!), always one that has a secure zipper on top, and have trotted all over Europe for 25 years with no problems (different bags over the years, but all the same idea). One anecdote obviously is not proof that nothing will ever happen to you, but carrying the same sort of bag that millions of European women carry is not insensible. To be sure, I am not careless. I always hold onto it securely, and keep it in front of me in crowded situations. One concession to security--I love a bag with a clasp arrangement inside for keys. I hook my wallet onto this to make it harder to lift out of my bag. Heck, sometimes I can hardly get it out. I generally leave my passport and any significant cash at the hotel, but carry a color copy of the picture page with me at all times. I also carry my US driver's license to leave as collateral for audio guides. Again, be sensible. Don't leave cash and a passport laying on the bathroom counter. Leave it in the safe, or in your locked suitcase.

Posted by christa
alameda, ca, usa
335 posts

I, too, carry my regular purse and have never had a problem, though depending on the country being visited I may decide to wear a cross-body bag. I keep some money in my wallet and the rest I put in my bra. I have one of those pocket things that attaches to my belt and goes inside my pants but have not felt the need to use it. Passport stays locked in suitcase in hotel room.

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
2119 posts

I have gone to Europe every summer for a month for 11 of the last 12 years.
I have always worn a money belt, first one around my waist now one around my neck. In it I carry my passport, CCs (2), debit cards (2), (2 so 1 is always a back up just incase), big cash, travel tickets, itinerary, and a copy of my travel insurance just incase something might happen to me and I am unable to communicate. I carry my daily spending money and daily admission tickets in a zippered upper chest pocket. Others have posted that they do not know of anyone loosing anything out of a hotel safe or that they do not wear a money belt because...... I have read lots of stories here and elsewhere about folks getting pick-pocketed or purse snatched. I have never read about anyone loosing anything out of a properly worn money belt. This works for me.

Posted by Ron
southwest, Missouri, U.S.A.
1555 posts

Hello Jonna. The security wallet mentioned by Maryam is the Civita Hidden Pocket. It is for sale at Travel Store at this website. A belt goes through its loop, and the wallet is tucked into pants or a skirt. The wallet can slide to a side of the body, for it to be comfortable while the person is sitting. I have one of those. It is more comfortable to wear than a money belt, and more secure than a neck wallet.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
800 posts

My grandmother always said the best money belt for a woman was her bra. As I remember it she was about a EE; that advice might not work so well for a AA.

Posted by Jonna
Orange, CA, USA
11 posts

Thank you to all who have replied! I have seen the cross purses, but have never tried one (I carry a little backpack). I also like the idea about a security shirt rather than a vest. I will definitely check out these ideas. I am retiring this year (school teacher), so I will finally be able to travel in cool weather and take advantage of inside jacket pockets. Men appear to tolerate money belts better than women. Remember, guys, we are used to having purses. Some great ideas!

Posted by gone
2081 posts

Jonna, I just got back from another trip and i noticed alot of women with purses. No problem for them. However, i did notice that they eiher had it x shoulder and had it cluched tightly to their body and NEVER just swinging loose under their arm like you see over here or at least where i live. In any postion it was held close to thier body by their lower arm. I could also tell if i was walking towards them, they were sizing me up. im sure to see if i was a threat. If i noticed they were concerned, i would move to the opposite side of their purse. dont know if it helped, but for me but theres only so much i could do. happy trails.