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Being sneaky with the money belt

I'm headin to Italy at the end of the month. This is my first time in Europe and using a money belt. Since a lot of people here have used the money belt, I was wondering how you go about taking money out while trying to be inconspicuous. I'm just imagining that I will be out getting some gelato or in line to get tickets at a museum and trying to pull out 10 euros from the money belt would stand out like a sore thumb.
Any tricks to the trade?

Posted by
14 posts

As a woman who has worn a money belt--there's no good way to dig into it in public! I would carry only large bills and my passport in the money belt, and keep a bit of walking-around money in a more easily accessible place. True, you could get your pocket picked, but i guess you have to determine the tradeoff for yourself.

Posted by
8906 posts

A money belt isn't supposed to used like a wallet or purse. You should keep a day's spending money in your wallet. Passport, credit/debit cards, and extra cash go inside the belt not to be touched unless it is an emergency.

Posted by
21 posts

From reading several threads here and there, it seemed that it was safest to not carry anything in your pockets, especially in Rome. So I was under the impression to just keep things in the money belt.
I do have a pocket in my anorak, so maybe i'll keep the small bills there.

Posted by
16 posts

I put money/wallet in my front pocket and saftey pin it on the inside. It doesnt show, is easy to unclasp, and I dont go into my money belt, only at hotel. You can have a decoy wallet in your back pocket

Posted by
1508 posts

If you have an inside pocket on your jacket (mine has a small zipped internal pocket) keep a small wallet there with your daily spending money. I have also kept my small coin purse/wallet clipped in on the farthest inside part of my bag or backpack. If you need to take out more money during the day, do so in the bathroom. It does require a bit of planning ahead (where are you going that day, what will you need for cash) but the point is to keep the things most valuable to you safe (passport, credit cards, plane tickets).

Posted by
1449 posts

Anthony, I keep a days spending cash in my pockets. I have one that has a velcro latch so I put the larger bills in there (usually 30-40E), and then the smaller bills and change in another pocket.

I don't want to lose 30E to a pickpocket, but it won't ruin my trip if I do. So I have my cash accessible for my convenience. I figure it also makes me a bit safer; if a pickpocket was to be targeting me and watching to see where I keep my money, he'd see me reach into that pocket. So he/she would clean out that pocket figuring it would have all I was carrying.

But the stuff I really don't want to lose is elsewhere. In the moneybelt is the stuff for serious safekeeping like the 200-300E from the ATM, my credit card, passport, etc.

Posted by
11442 posts

I would never assess my money belt in public, two reasons, first as you are trying to be " sneaky" rustling around without showing your belly,, a bill or CC could fall out,, I would rather carefully open it and see exactly what I am taking out. I do this in hotel room , and ONLY in emergency do I open outside room and then I do it in a washroom stall.

I have only done that once or twice, because like everyone else I always keep a days money in my purse,, or pocket . I also leave my stuff in the safe at the hotel which some do and some don't , so I don't wear the money belt everyday anyways.

I have travelled enough to not be too paranoid, just be careful, and try not to be obvious about handling money. Better to take a 20 euro bill out of pocket to pay for gelato then to rout through your money belt in public showing cash, passport and CC to any interested onlooker.

Will it really ruin your holiday if they get 20 euros?

Posted by
1170 posts

Are the ones worn around the neck a "no-no?" They hang like a chain with a pendant.

We bought two of these not knowing about the money belt.

Posted by
842 posts

We have both money belts and "neck purses". We use the "neck purse" and absolutely love them.

Each person neeeds to determine what is the most comfortable and convenient for them.

Posted by
1313 posts

I took both to Italy, wore the money belt once and HATED it (I nearly dropped it in the toilet at the Colosseum...) I found the neck pouch was much more comfortable. But there's a wide range of opinions on the board and you just need to see what works for you.

Again, as with the money belt, you only access it in a private place (hotel room). Think of it as 'deep storage.' I had a flat chest pocket in my coat that I kept about 15-30 euros for gelato, etc. and I also kept things like my metro tickets and chapstick in there so a pickpocket would have to go through a few non-valuables to get to the cash.

Posted by
11757 posts

Keep your walking around money in your front pocket. Keep money you won't need today and other stuff you really can't afford to lose in your money belt. Each morning get out a fresh supply of walking around money before you head out for the day.

If you absolutely have to get into your money belt, I suggest using a toilet and opening it there.

For both ease of use and sweat, it's better to wear the belt outside of your tucked in shirt and inside your pants just below your belt line. I rarely tuck in casual shirts at home but I do in Europe. It's not required but I feel like I have fewer "loose ends" to keep track of.

Posted by
21 posts

Thanks everyone for all of the responses. I'm glad that I put this post out there.

Posted by
1449 posts

As a different take from what Brad posted, I found I do better if I tuck my shirt in over the moneybelt. For me, at least, as I walk around and sit/stand I've found if it is not tucked in under the shirt the money belt can slide up above the top of my pants and be visible (especially the strap, sometimes the pouch in front). Also the shirt provides another layer between the pouch and the outside; while a brazen thief who saw the pouch might be able to grab it and yank/run if it is near the top of your pants, there is no direct path with a shirt covering it. However sweat is a bit of an issue. Rick's belt has a plastic barrier which helps. I also put paper items into a lightweight baggie which keeps them dry.

Posted by
152 posts

I've used a neck pouch several times. When the need arises, I just put my back to the crowd, against a wall, fish it out, get whatever I need, and put it back. I've done this in train stations, museums, etc.

It probably looks goofy to a passerby, but who cares, so long as you're careful not to advertise too much. You're a tourist, and when you are at a museum or restaurant, everyone knows it anyway.

You don't want to have your credit card, or a wad of cash out for too long. If I was not in a place where I could make an exchange, I kept the cash or card, firmly in my hand, in my front pocket until I got somewhere to put it back.

Posted by
135 posts

when you go to the ATM, you pull it out, put your money and credit card in, and tuck it back it- word to the wise, always put a safety pin around the c clasp, because they do slip- and my wife has found hers sliding down a pants leg!

I bought a different type, essentially a zippered pocket that hangs on my belt, one tucked in on each hip- one for the passport and tickets, other for credit cards and real money... and spending money is in my front jeans pocket- if someone can get their hand in there without me knowing... well, I'd need to be comatose...

Posted by
53 posts

Anthony. Good choice on the money belt. Make sure you get the kind with 2 zippers. Euro's are larger that Dollars so put your American Greenbacks in the smaller one with your ID and credit cards. Put Euros and passport in the other. put about 30 euros in you pocket and the rest leave in your belt. bathrooms in the stalls are a great place to get cash from your belt and put it in you pocket. if you REALLY have to dig in while in public, first look around, then pull it up just enough to clear the zippers then carfully pull out what you need and make sure none fall out with it. email me if i can help more. I went by myself for my first time too. good luch and have fun.

bill

Posted by
37 posts

I purchased from Travelsmith the pouch that hangs around the neck, underneath clothing, and it has a steel cable which supposedly cannot be cut by a pickpocketer.

My mom & I will be traveling for the first time in Europe too...15 day transatlantic cruise & another week in Europe by ourselves.

We both will be using the neck pouch and we both will probably keep a little cash in pocket, but if needed to get into secret pouch, we will do it in a bathroom stall or hotel room.

Posted by
2000 posts

I use the neck type money pouch and once or twice I've had to go into it in public to get extra cash or my ATM card, which I did not anticipate needing. In a restaurant or on the train, etc. it's easy to discretely get to it and take things out, you don't always have to retreat to a rest room. Unless you are doing major disrobing to get to it, it's unlikely anyone will notice you doing this.

Posted by
466 posts

Anthony: Europe is no different than any big city in America. You need to be street smart. If you are going to carry a wallet, carry it in your front pocket. Don't carry anything important in your back pockets or in a jacket pocket. It is not that dangerous to be taking so many precautions. Everyone in Europe is not a pickpocket ot a theif. Just be careful in crowded trains but enjoy your trip and don't worry so much about getting pickpocketed. It probably will not happen so stop worrying!!!!

Posted by
135 posts

I didn't like the feel of the neck pouch bouncing around on my belly... and I wear my pants to tight to have the money belt under 'em...

But I think a traditional American type wallet is asking for it. Loose cash is fine in your pockets, and your documents and cards absolutely need to be safe, tucked in somewhere under your belt. Just my .02 cents

Posted by
15 posts

Good advice from everyone.
The cotton moneybelts get sweaty, so take a few ziploc bags with you, and put all your tickets and passports in them inside the belt.
That way they won't get damp and disintegrate!!

Posted by
850 posts

I usually keep some spending money in my pocket but not much. Some shirts have a zipper pocket on the sleeve which you can put some bigger bills. Personally, I have pulled my money belt up many times and never worried about it because I pull out what I need and push it back down. I just don't do it with a crowd around me but if they see me from a distance I don't worry about it. They cannot get to it unless they mug me or rob me at gunpoint and I have not seen that happen in to anyone in prior trips. Talked to one person in Cinque Terre last may who had his pocket picked. Was carrying his wallet in his back pocket and was with a tour group at the train station. Never heard of anyone having their money belt pick pocketed or should I say pick belted.

Posted by
21 posts

Forgot that I posted this. I went to Italy about 6 weeks ago. The cold weather ended up working out for me. Since I had my jacket on every single day, I was able to use the jacket pockets for daily cash usage and not worry about needing to access the money belt.

Posted by
114 posts

My husband and I use money belts and the neck pouch also, but for extra security we use our special "travel vests". We bought these at Campmoor a few years ago and they are very neutral and reversable--black on one side, tan on the other. There are pockets on both sides, some with velcro. We sewed a little brass macrame ring inside one of the velcro pockets and then clip our wallets to this. We only carry a day's supply of cash in the wallet, and the rest goes in the money belt. I do not carry a purse, but keep my tissues in one pocket and keys in a third, and a snack in the fourth. This is very convenient, and when the vest is buttoned up, very secure. I just reach in my vest and pull out my wallet; no rummaging in the money belt.

Posted by
151 posts

My husband and I are avid money belt wearers and so far haven't lost anything to pickpockets. We are guilty of accessing them in public and though it never has been an issue, I think it's best to avoid getting into them whenever possible. I can recall pulling out a credit card at a store in Paris and clerks commenting to each other on my handing stash.

I like the around the waist variety as I tend to get a sore neck even from a lightweight necklace. They do add a little bulk under summer clothes so your vacation photos may be a little on the lumpy side. We use the Rick Steves silk money belts, no metal reinforcements, etc.

Posted by
1449 posts

Eli, I wear my money belt under a tucked-in shirt. If a skilled pickpocket can get into zipped pockets in jackets, I don't want to take a chance with the money belt if the money belt zipper is visible. And (for me, at least) sometimes with walking around and getting up/down the belt can ride to the top and the zipper become visible above the belt line. If its under the shirt its still blocked, but if it's hanging out then it shows I'm wearing one and also presents somewhat of a target.