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For those who don't wear money belts...

I only wear money belts if I am solo traveling, and then sometimes not, and I'd like to totally get away from it if possible. I find I use a money belt more for separating and organizing my financials/documents more than for security. When I travel I like to be able to have a small crossbody that I can pull from my purse/daybag for when I'm walking or going out just for dinner. So I have my main credit card, ID, health cards and passport in this bag, and then my back up financials, separate, often in a zippered pocket in the purse/daybag. That means sometimes both are in the daybag, attached or zippered in an inside pocket, but separated. Granted with a money belt, there is no concern, but I think it is overkill for me, most times. I never used a money belt, or had even heard of one until I came on this site about 1999 so plenty of no problem travels before that. I use a leg wallet when I do, but others use waist or neck wallets. My bags, crossbody and/or daybag, are always attached to me when in transit. Often, once arrived, I leave my backup in my suitcase. I am wondering what others do to separate their stash, but still have it secure without bothering with money belt types. I love to hear about other people's systems and it is time we started talking packing!

How do you keep your financials and documents organized or secure, excluding money belts (leg wallets, waist belts, neck wallets)? Are you comfortable having two separate spots in your bag or do you have another system? Vests? Zippered pockets? Scarfs?

Posted by
66 posts

the only time i use my money belt and neck wallet is when its a travel day
i keep my passport , vaccination passport and a few bucks in it
in my money belt : photocopy of passport and extra passport photos , extra money if i have any , back up credit card

when im out during the day , i have a cross body bag .
i keep the zippers in the front and clipped so cant be open
wallet and essentials in that
iphone is usually in front pocket and usually have my camera around my neck
if i get on a crowded metro or bus , i will put both of those in the cross body bag

with this setup , not worried about being pickpocketed
i would only be screwed if i was held up

Posted by
3212 posts

I am much like you Wray. I use a purse slung cross body. Typically has a seatbelt strap, but I don't go into the PacSafe mesh designs.
It sits more to the front so rather difficult to grab any part of it. Depending where I am, I have been known to sew a second interior so they might slash the bottom or side of the bag but there is an inner purse that would be harder to catch and cut. Therefore, nothing like a phone or camera is going to fall out the bottom. I also ensure that any item of importance is in its own pocket or pouch attached to the purse - again, so any cutting means nothing of value drops out It makes it harder for pick pockets as well. If it is a smaller bag, it goes on before my coat. I may have a more handy pocket for ready cash, but I don't spend a lot through the day.
I have a few items of clothing with 'hidden pockets', but they seem awkward and small on women's clothing. I did find one spring jacket with 2 sets of exterior pockets, but 2 pockets have invisible zippers on them and you would never know those were there. They are a good size and I can pack a good amount in them without it showing. That is a keeper as a travel coat. I wish more women's coats had decent zipped inner pockets. I have been known to sew in some.

Posted by
1509 posts

Generally I have my wallet with an ID, main cc, money and debit card, and it is in my front pocket. If it is a high pickpocket area maybe it will be deep in my bag. The rest of my things would be in my bag at the hotel. If I was in transit, same system, except the bags would be with me.

Posted by
173 posts

The advent of "athleisure" has enabled a hybrid system assuming you dress that way (leggings with pockets, etc). I do! There is also a money belt-ish waist thing made of jersey or synthetic I really like- it fits right over the waist band of the waist band of your pants. With various on- body pockets for credit cards and some cash and my phone/key and a top that hangs lower in back, it isn't bulky to be uncomfortable or obvious that I have valuable stuff all over myself. I like that system a lot better than a purse, and then use a fold-into-itself black square tote for a water bottle or sweater, etc. I do still use the traditional RS money belt sometimes, usually when in transit- but these options, especially in very warm weather, are a lot more comfortable than the sweaty feeling of the money belt in the small of your back...lastly, I stopped taking jewelry. I wear a small pair of diamond stud earrings and thin gold necklace that can go from hiking to a nice museum. (Of course, this is all just memories. I haven't been anywhere since March!)

Posted by
1649 posts

At the airport, I use a neck wallet to carry my passport and boarding pass - it's easier access than a money belt. I switch to the money belt after I exit customs and immigration.

I've sewn zippered pockets into most of my travel pants to carry my passport and extra (not for daily use) cash or backup credit card when I'm out sightseeing.

Posted by
1649 posts

I have a few items of clothing with 'hidden pockets', but they seem awkward and small on women's clothing.
So true! I cut the zipper pockets out of worn-out purses, tidy them up and sew them to the waistband of my travel pants.

I've sewn D-rings into some of my travel pants so that I can connect a small hidden wallet. I usually only use that on train travel days.

Posted by
122 posts

I use a hidden wallet/pocket I bought years ago from Eagle Creek, it has a black loop and a brown loop so you can hang it from your belt and goes inside your pants. If I’m wearing a dress or skirt I use pins to secure it to my clothes.

I have never used a neck wallet or money belt.

Posted by
77 posts

Similar to Wray and MariaF, I use a small, sturdy crossbody with zippered pockets. I usually keep my passport in an interior zipped pocket and a small wallet with one credit card/small amount of cash in a different interior pocket. I generally keep my other cards locked in my suitcase. If I'm traveling or in a really busy area, I might wear the stretchy belt that Karen mentioned and keep my passport in there. I use one called "Flipbelt" when I run that is also perfect for travel. The material is quick-drying, has lots of hidden interior pockets, and is more comfortable than a money belt. Money belts also look sloppy under my clothes, so I prefer the more streamlined look of the Flipbelt. I keep copies of my passport in the locked suitcase, and I make sure that there are pdf copies of passports, ID etc. available at home if needed.

Posted by
6331 posts

I don't do anything different than at home except having a passport on me (I sometimes leave it in the hotel room and sometimes I carry it, depends on when I think I may need it). I just use a Kipling crossbody bag. I've never used a money belt except to hold my keys when going running at home.

Posted by
5298 posts

I prefer neck wallets, but only if my shirts/sweaters are bulky enough that it doesn't look like I have a giant pacemaker on. I do use vests and shirts with zippered pockets, where the cash and card I might expect to use during the day are kept.

Posted by
11779 posts

I cut the zipper pockets out of worn-out purses, tidy them up and sew
them to the waistband of my travel pants.

The little zippered pouches I pin under my waistband (just big enough for a card and some daily cash) have come some from import shops, like World Market, but cutting them out of old purses is a great idea! However it's done, it's comfortable, virtually invisible, and easily accessed by my own fingers but no one else's...or not without my knowledge, anyway!

We leave the passports, extra cards and cash locked in our room safe, or stow them in our cross-body Pacsafe bag when changing cities/countries. Has worked like a charm so far!

Posted by
2365 posts

I always keep a backup credit card or two and the equivalent of $100-200 in cash in my hotel or apartment. I’ll keep my passport there, too if I don’t need it walking around that day. All this is in a zipper pouch, I like it the in room safe, but if there isn’t one I’ll hide it in a closet or something. I feel this stuff is safer in my accommodation than on me (I don’t do shared apartments or hostels, so the full unit is mine). The night before I leave I put it in a safe place on my suitcase so I don’t forget it. I’ll move the passport to my purse if I’ll need it the next day, like if I’m flying.
The cash and credit cards are for emergencies, if my day to day card gets lost I still have the backup.

Day to day I have a small wallet with a credit card and a smaller amount of cash. It’s in a zipper pocket inside my purse, and this pocket can be safety pinned closed. My passport would also be in this pocket if I need it, if not it’s in the hotel room. That depends on if I’m traveling far, driving, or in a place where you have to have it on you. Just depends.

I do have a change wallet (just a small pouch that holds coins) that is just in my purse. It might hold 5-10 euros in coins. It’s easier to just grab a few coins if I’m just buying coffee. It’s still in my purse but doesn’t have that layer of the extra zip pocket like the full wallet. I’ve never had a problem, but loosing 5 euros in coins is not going to be a big issue for me, the convenience is worth the slight risk.

Posted by
5298 posts

I know this is a frequent topic, but its always new to somebody. I'm usually more concerned about losing a bag or money belt than it being stolen. More than once we've seen money belts, daypacks, purses, etc., that were left behind hanging on a toilet stall door, or in the washroom. A neck wallet doesn't have to come off. For consideration.

Posted by
2548 posts

Thank you all! I do confess to wearing the money belt (leg wallet) when I'm traveling solo, while in transport, so that when I go to the restroom on the flight I have all my financials attached to me...without taking a larger purse/bag. I also have a day or two of meds on me incase we have to evacuate without bags. What can I say, I'm a risk manager. LOL I don't worry about any of this when my husband is with me because clearly he has financials to get me home...should he chose to do so. LOL

I am happy to see that others store their backups including financials in their suitcase at the hotel. I don't keep my suitcase by the door to avoid a quick grab by someone. I don't use the safe, as I'd forget my things. The chance of forgetting or losing is why I like to try to continue my home system, mostly, so I am in the habit of putting things in particular places in my purse/backpack as compared to being pickpocketed. I do have my passport with me incase I can't get back to the hotel in this day and age. I'll have a copy and/or my passport card in my suitcase, incase it is lost. The passport is the easier item for me to replace, versus all my credit cards (2 or 3 when traveling solo). As I don't travel in the summer, often my small crossbody is under my outer layer...vest, jacket or scarf. I will say that on my one RS tour, I wore my leg wallet the entire trip when out, because RS stresses that so much. I didn't want to be the one who lost my stuff for not following recommendations. LOL But, I just don't like having to have one more item to worry about.

I've always been intrigued with interior pockets sewn into the inside of slacks, but I don't like the idea of moving them from one set to another...another thing to remember, but I haven't given up on that idea. Even though my legs and butt are probably one of my better features at this stage of my life, at 60+ I won't leave the house in leggings. Plus, I'd have to redecorate the entire top half of my body to go with them...I'm not a clothes shopper. Buy good and buy once is my philosophy...except for travel related containers.

Discussing packing is such a happy discussion. I hope more people chime in. There is no right way. I find different systems interesting, just like different people are interesting! Thanks!

Posted by
3534 posts

Hi Wray, my husband leaves his passport and larger Euros in the hotel safe.

Whether we’re traveling together or I’m traveling solo, I carry a small coin purse inside my small crossbody purse for coins and 20-30 Euro. And my phone goes into the purse zipper pocket that’s closest to my body. Otherwise, we’re no help because we do wear money belts.

Posted by
214 posts

my husband leaves his passport and larger Euros in the hotel safe.

Jean, do you mean the safe at the front desk, or a room safe?

Be aware for the room safes that the maids may have a key that can open one. Once in a Paris hotel, the previous occupant had locked the safe with a code, and I could not open or access it for my own use. I inquired at the front desk, and was told to ask the maid on our hallway and she could open it. Sure enough, she had a key...ever since then, I have been wary of room safes.

Posted by
5298 posts

Wray, there was a thread some time ago, discussing using hotel safes. One of the tips for not leaving anything in them, was to put one shoe (of the pair you plan to wear the day of leaving) in the safe, so that you will be reminded to open and empty the safe. I suppose something else you would miss would work too.

Posted by
2548 posts

I'm usually more concerned about losing a bag or money belt than it being stolen.

Stan, that's me as well. My small crossbody never leaves my body. I also always stop and look back to make sure I didn't leave anything behind like a jacket (or try to remember to do this). I would never hang my purse anywhere when out and about.
Jean, I have my pin money like that as well.

CWSocial, I've sewn D rings onto all types of bags, but not my clothing...yet. And I like the idea of sewing in zippered pockets when there are none.
Agnes, You are my hero. I was there before 1999 and I'm hoping to return to that point. In fact, I'm almost there. It's why I wanted to see non-moneybelt systems. Although, it is the trips to the bathroom on the plane traveling solo that have me stumped. Maybe I just need to put my separate stash in my small crossbody until arrival. That should do it, really. I do like the bags I choose for their organization more than their security features, although I will lock a zipper when need be.
Everyone, I love hearing about everyone's systems.

BUT, I do use money belts, at home: I use one of those belt looped money belts in my purse at home to hold all those darn membership and discount cards, and extra CC. I've not used it on a trip. I do use a neck wallet at home to hold my phone so I can listen to audio books while I do my chores. LOL

Posted by
5414 posts

As I travel in the cooler months I have on jeans or long pants so I wear an Eagle Creek leg wallet with Passport, back up CC and extra currency.

I’ve never used a hotel safe as my iPhone and mini iPad come with me as I meander. Both fit in the pockets of my men’s waterproof jacket.

Since my first trip abroad when Nixon was in office I’ve always worn a men’s jacket because of the secret interior safety pockets. It’s also roomier as it isn’t cut to accentuate the hips. Hangs to just above my knees. Perfect in wet weather.

I also carry a well worn leather coin purse that has a slot pocket where a I fold up paper currency...usually a 5 pound note.

That wonderful gift has been to Cuba, Paris, Istanbul, London, Dingle, Belfast, Venice, Rome, Milan, Washington D.C., Tampa Bay, and the City By The Bay ( San Francisco). Best travel gift I’ve ever received!

At present it sits in my travel drawer with one of the new 10 pound notes I obtained in 2019 while in London.

Posted by
2548 posts

Claudia!

As I travel in the cooler months I have on jeans or long pants so I wear an Eagle Creek leg wallet with Passport, back up CC and extra currency.

I have never met anyone else who uses the leg wallet. I've found it so much better than the other types, when needed.

I used to wear mens jackets...particularly for skiing. I don't know why I hadn't thought of this.

Posted by
425 posts

I attached an old money belt to the interior of my Eagle Creek crossbody purse. I keep larger bills in there along with credit cards, passport and phone. Someone would have to get inside the main purse and then inside the zippers of the money belt to get anything of significance. Somebody could cut the bottom or sides of the purse and all they would get is my small leather coin purse used tissues and maybe a water bottle or umbrella. Backup material is kept in an inside pocket of my suitcase left in the hotel.

Posted by
331 posts

I am enjoying reading this -- I always get great ideas from other people who are creative!

Like a couple of others have said, I am more fearful of losing things versus having them stolen. I usually travel with my kids, one of whom has critical meds without which we'd be in big trouble, so I have backups for meds as well as documents and cards. And, like Wray, I am also a bag nester.

All of these considerations have led me to being a Tom Bihn junkie; I LOVE using organizer pouches and keystraps (leashes) to tether everything into my bag. I never untether anything, just pull out the right pouch, access what I need, and put it back. That way, if I'm distracted (which is often; I'm unable to talk with anyone and pay attention to what my hands are doing), my pouch is still leashed and I can't leave it on a counter or seat or wherever.

I currently use a Sidekick as my smallest bag that carries everything critical that I will always have with me (cards, keys, 3-day supply of meds, passports for me and kids, etc), leashed inside. I have tried several other smaller bags, but this one works best for me given what I want to have with me. I carry it cross-body when I am out and about, and it's small enough that I can forget it's there. And since everything is leashed inside, I'm not constantly sticking my hand inside the bag to make sure everything is still there.

My bigger bag is the Maker's Bag, which my daughter calls the "magic bag," because it holds an unbelievable amount of stuff. It is my personal bag on the plane, and if we are out all day and I need to carry more than will fit in my Sidekick, I bring the magic bag. It holds my Sidekick and also organizer pouches containing: a full trip supply of meds (my husband also carries a backup supply of meds which we leave in the apartment; I can pack a 2-week supply into daily baggies that then fit into a 3-D organizer cube), electronics, and a first aid kit, plus water bottle, jacket, iPad mini, my small binder with all the important travel paperwork, and a few other things. Everything is leashed in the Maker's Bag. Because I am that paranoid about losing things.

I have paper and google drive copies of passports and other important documents. I leave the paper copies in my suitcase. I also leave behind my "extra" credit card and ATM card when we go out for the day. Since we rent apartments, I feel comfortable leaving those in my suitcase as well.

The only thing I have not found yet is the perfect wallet. I am still looking for something small, relatively flat, lightweight (no leather), with a zippered pouch to hold coins and also slots to hold cards and a pocket for paper currency. Would love some recommendations if any of you have found the perfect wallet.

Posted by
1189 posts

Always interesting to see how fellow travelers manage their valuables.

I am a fan of money belts, as I often travel alone at the beginning and end of trips, meeting friends in the middle.
I do wear it on the plane, as I usually fly alone.

Upon arrival in Europe, after passport control, I go directly into a bathroom stall with all my stuff, and transfer my passport, bank cards and ID, and most of my cash into my money belt.
I wear it with the pouch to the back , in the curve of my lower back, under my clothing of course.
In hot weather, everything in the money belt is first put in a Ziploc bag to keep it dry.
I keep out only enough cash for my train or taxi to my first nights accommodation.
When out and about, I leave my money belt in my accommodation, usually an apartment; and use a crossbody bag with the minimum in it for the day.
If I'm in a hotel, the money belt and all its contents go with me at all times.
I'm leery of hotel safes.

I learned a trick a few years ago, and that is to take a small Ziploc bag, and put in it photocopies of your ID, PP, bank cards, etc; as well as the contact numbers for your hotel or accommodation hosts, and $100 worth of the currency for the country you are in at the time.
Fold it up small, and put it under the insole of your shoe.
That way you'll always have some emergency info and cash till you get sorted out, if you are burgled or pick pocketed.
I always do this when I am traveling alone.

And of course, always take two or more bank cards or credit cards with you, in case you lose one.

Oh, and one more thing for those who rent apartments: take a sturdy lanyard with you from home, and attach your apartment keys to it.
I wear it round my neck if not too heavy, but prefer to loop it through a pants belt loop and then tuck the end with the keys into my pants pocket.
Always travel with clothes that have pockets!! :)

Posted by
160 posts

There are some terrific, creative ideas here. Thanks everyone for sharing.

Hi DebVT: For a lightweight wallet, check LeSportsac. They have a 3-zipper,
flat, lightweight "cosmetic bag" that might work for you. Lots of different,
colorful designs. I've always use these as wallets. I pin it to my purse with a diaper pin. I started doing this after my wallet was
almost lifted on a train in Italy.

Thinking safe travels for everyone.

Posted by
11779 posts

Be aware for the room safes that the maids may have a key that can
open one.

Wally, of course they do! Guests are going to forget the safe codes THEY set all the time, or forget stuff they left in them. Management has to have a way to access them versus destroying them with sledgehammers!

My husband and I both traveled for business as well as pleasure, and the corporate rule was to lock laptops up in room safes anytime you couldn't have them in your possession, such as for company dinners or personal sightseeing. Not that it couldn't happen but neither of us know anyone personally who has ever had valuables stolen from a hotel-room safe.

Tip: Never put anything in a room safe before you've set your own code and then TESTED it to make sure it works. Empty it before bed the night before you check out (we do this) OR put something in it, like one of your shoes, you'll miss when packing up to leave.

Posted by
1527 posts

I made my own pocket which I button onto the inside waistband of my pants. (Yes, I have to sew two buttons into each pair of pants/skirt I'm taking.) I keep my passport and big money in there and I don't flip the pocket out to access it - I just slightly pull the waistband away from my body and slip my fingers down inside to pull out what is needed. I don't find it difficult to do. If anyone would like to see photos of my homemade one, send me your e-mail address by private message and I'll explain further! I feel very secure with this system.

I stole this idea from David Hume in his book Towns of the Renaissance: Travellers in Northern Italy (1995 - he also wrote a couple of other Italy books): "I had a tailor make four-by-eight-inch vertical pockets that could be secured to the inside of my trouser waistband with three buttons. My passport case with credit cards, large denomination bills and air line tickets go down inside the belt, inside the trousers, into the deep pocket where they can be gotten at by me alone, with some difficulty at that. I carry some ready cash in a smaller billfold in my inside jacket pocket. So far we have never been robbed of anything while in Italy..."

Posted by
3534 posts

Wray, my husband hates the waist money belts, but he does like the leg money belt that lies vertically inside his pant’s leg from his belt. He usually leaves his passport in the room safe because of its bulk.

Posted by
214 posts

Wally, of course they do! Guests are going to forget the safe codes THEY set all the time, or forget stuff they left in them. Management has to have a way to access them versus destroying them with sledgehammers!

I think you may be missing my point. Of course I know that someone in "management" would have access to the safe, but if maids have them, I find that troubling - the safe is not really very "safe" if multiple staffers have a key. The hotel policy is you use the safe at your own peril, so if something goes missing, you will have no recourse.

I don't leave money, passports, or valuables in room safes. I only travel with an iPhone - no laptop - and my phone is on my person at all times. I wear a neck wallet, and anytime I am out of the room, I carry all valuables (passport, money, credit cards) in the neck wallet.

Posted by
2548 posts

Nick, It looks like you do exactly what most of us do and you haven't even left the continent. I think loss is the major worry, not pickpockets. So, no, not a lot of snake oil bought on this thread.

Posted by
331 posts

Thanks for the wallet recommendation, Carole! I will check it out.

I will also add that I travel with the same system whether I’m overseas or in the US. Even my car keys and credit cards are leashed into the tiny little pouch I carry every day as my “purse” around my hometown.

I don’t fear the pickpockets; I fear my own forgetful self!

Posted by
2548 posts

I don’t fear the pickpockets; I fear my own forgetful self!

Yep!

Posted by
3360 posts

I probably shouldn't respond because I'm a consistent money belt wearer, but I'm going to do it anyway.

I'm a person who travels solo (unless on an RS tour) and has serious "underlying medical conditions," in today's favored terminology. I never leave my lodging without putting my passport, travel insurance info and the emergency form I create each time I travel in my money belt.

I carry a small, cross-body purse like most, but I would never put my passport in it, even though I also never remove it from my body. I also put that travel insurance and emergency info in the purse, my carry-on luggage and my personal item.

There's a minimal but significant to me possibility that something could happen that would render me unconscious and that my purse could go AWOL.

I gave up on any kind of traditional money belt years ago. I found them all annoying and uncomfortable and never felt like they were very secure.

I've been using a money belt like this Eazymate for years. Of course you don't wear it outside like the illustration. You step into it and pull it up, under your clothes. Using the toilet? Pull it up higher.

Order of dressing, from the skin out: bra, shapewear like this, money belt, panties (panties are always supposed to go over shapewear, not like the typical pictures), pants (I never wear skirts or pants with belt loops) and top.

The Eazymate and other similar products are comfortable and there's no chance they're going anywhere without a conscious me noticing, or someone else if I'm not conscious 😉.

There's plenty of room for all the stuff I carry in it, which isn't much. I have absolutely no need for a normal wallet of any kind. I'd never carry all my cards in one place like I do at home.

I lock my US only cards, documents, home keys, cash, extra European cash and such in the room safe or my luggage. I've never used a hotel safe.

Posted by
198 posts

Years ago I wore a money belt but have gotten away from that.

I wear either a crossbody purse or my regular Longchamp shoulder bag. The crossbody is small, but the same design as a messenger bag. When you lift up the flap, there is a zipper at the end of the flap and I put my passport and extra cash in that, as when the flap is in the normal position, these items are then in the back of the back, against me. If I use my regular shoulder bag, I just throw everything in there. All that said, I am very careful with my bags whether I am at home or traveling. They are never set down anywhere, they are either on me or on my lap with an arm through them. I do keep copies of our passports with us, and depending on what is needed each day, either the copy or the original is with me, it just depends.

Posted by
2548 posts

Lo, I've always been intrigued by your Eazymate system. When I'm traveling solo, especially in transport, I am much more concerned, particularly about identification if hurt/sick, than when traveling with my husband so I appreciate your system. To use it, I think I'd have to buy all new slacks to add that to my repertoire so that my pants would fit, and I'm too frugal for that. Unrelated, thanks for the shapewear lesson. I've never understood it before. That piece looks like it actually might be comfortable to wear! But then if your Eazymate acted as shape wear, that would be great.

On my RS tour, there was a woman who used the underwear with a pocket in it for her security.

Posted by
726 posts

It is important to me to have a system where I do the same thing the same way every time, so I don't lose anything. I don't like to split up my most important things.
I wear a neck wallet with a slash proof cord. It is made of hard to slash material. It perfectly but barely holds my credit cards and folded bills in one pocket, my passport in another pocket (both zippered) and my phone in another pocket (velcro flap).

I wear it cross body over my clothes. Then I also carry a Tom Bihn messenger bag cross body over the neck wallet.
If I am in a train station or other such close quarters, I put it under my shirt.
I put it on in the morning before leaving my room and I take it off when I change for bed.
It it true that all of my eggs are in one basket, but then I only have one basket to be vigilant about.

Posted by
987 posts

I do not travel solo so I never had to really figure that part out. I do like Agnes does, just exactly what I do at home, just with my passport in my crossbody purse. I like to use a medium size leather cross body like a Fossil or a Lucky brand, nothing flashy. I would not suggest trying anything NEW when traveling, too many opportunities to forget and not be aware. I am aware of just two things, my purse and the people around me. My purse is visible, take it if you want, my risk is low if you do. No need to wrestle me for anything that may or may not be attached to my body.

I travel like many of you have stated. Cash and card for the day on us with backups left in the hotel. Hubby and I split up cash so that if we are separated we each have means to survive and also if one if robbed we still have $$$.

Because I use a crossbody bag in everyday life it is like an extension of myself, I can go in blind and get what I need. No matter which of my many crossbodies I use they are all organized exactly the same, so when I travel there is no fumbling, unlatching, unzippering trying to locate and being distracted. I think the most covert we get is when we take money from the ATM. I am the conductor of the transaction and the Husband and I stand back to back with him as my bodyguard/lookout. I count and put the money away before he can leave his post. We then walk and find an out of the way place for us to stop so I can hand him his half of the loot.

Posted by
2548 posts

It is important to me to have a system where I do the same thing the same way every time, so I don't lose anything.

Letizia, I agree. I think this is crucial. No matter what your system is. Muscle Memory.

Posted by
1189 posts

I agree that one of the critical things about traveling is to keep your belongings in order at all times, especially your pp, cards, cash.
That way you are less likely to forget or mislay something.
Each night before bed, I reorganize my stuff so that I can just get going more quickly the next morning.
Whoever said it's their forgetful self instead of thieves that needs to be worried about is correct!

Posted by
230 posts

I carry my wallet and cash just as I do at home. If I'm standing watching a street performer or walking in a crowd I'll put my hands linked behind my back where I can feel my wallet without being to obvious.

My opinion for not getting targeted for pick-pocketing is to not look/act like a tourist. If you sit and people watch 9 times out of 10 you can pick out the tourist. They dress in ways a local wouldn't, have cameras, cell phones, ipods, etc. out all the time. Or have their guidebooks/maps out pointing around. I don't know how many times I've been stopped and ask where something was as I blend in with locals.

Posted by
617 posts

I use a standard waist-type money belt for everything but the day's cash, which goes in a zippered wallet on a chain attached to a belt loop. (The wallet was picked, once, on the Rialto Bridge in Venice, but the theft was stymied by the chain.) I could keep credit or ATM cards in the wallet, but since I almost always use cash there is no need.

I'm waiting for someone to market travel pants with velcro pads inside the front pockets, and velcro-ed wallets to match. I think the force required to remove the wallet, and the noise, would deter almost any pickpocket.

Posted by
5298 posts

Joel, I seem to remember one old trick to make a wallet harder to remove was to wrap several rubber bands around it which would make it resist coming out of pocket easily.

Posted by
617 posts

Stan,
Thanks for the reminder, I had forgotten about that trick. I'll try using rubber bands on the chained wallet.

Posted by
214 posts

I carry my wallet and cash just as I do at home. If I'm standing watching a street performer or walking in a crowd I'll put my hands linked behind my back where I can feel my wallet without being to obvious.

I am sorry, but this made me chuckle. You are nuts if you think it is safe to carry your wallet in your back pocket "just as you do at home" when you are in Europe, in tourist areas and in crowds. And if you think putting your hands back there while walking in a crowd suffices, it won't save you. I have too many friends (men) who had their wallets lifted from a hip pocket while walking down an uncrowded European street, and they never knew it was gone until they reached for it.

Anything I carry on my person for easy access, like my phone or some day cash, I place in a front, zippered pocket, or inside a jacket in a zippered pocket. I tend to travel in the fall and winter months, so usually in "jacket" weather. Anything else like passport, cards, etc., I carry in a neck wallet, of course worn under the shirt.

Posted by
230 posts

I am sorry, but this made me chuckle. You are nuts if you think it is safe to carry your wallet in your back pocket "just as you do at home" when you are in Europe, in tourist areas and in crowds. And if you think putting your hands back there while walking in a crowd suffices, it won't save you.

In 40 years of traveling on my own I've never been pick-pocketed. Most of my travel has been in Asia and South America so maybe Europe is worst than other places? The OP asked how others handle carrying their money etc. so I replied with how I did it. So maybe I'm just lucky unlike the too many friends (men) of your's. Did you tell them how they should carry their money before they traveled? So you have your way I have mine and others have their's. To each their own.

Posted by
3360 posts

What Wally said.

In Lisbon, walking downtown in the pedestrians-only zone. Young guy #1 walking ahead of us going the same direction. Young guy #2 walking toward us.

Young guy #2 passes fat, folded man's wallet to Young guy #1 not 20 feet in front of us.

Didn't see the actual picking of the pocket. Don't know where the guy whose pocket was picked was keeping the wallet.

Saw a gaggle of tourists gathered around one of those floating human statues as we continued our walk. Saw lots of wallets in men's back pockets.

Wonder if Young guy #2 went back for seconds?

Posted by
477 posts

Topic comes up often and always offers interesting solutions, suggestions, horror stories.

I have used a cross body bag (mostly leather but a Tom Bihn Café for the last decade) for decades. Except for stupidly leaving my sunglasses or chapstick behind, I've never lost a thing out of my purse. However, previous experiences and performance (or luck) has no relationship at all to what might happen to me and my bag, or its contents, in the next 24 hours.

When traveling, I have matching pants and shorts from Royal Robbins that have a rear zipper pocket hidden under the belt. That's where my critical stuff goes: cash reserves, credit cards, passport (if carrying), other ID, &c. Getting at it is a bit awkward so that takes a bit of planning. Pocket money is in the deep front pocket, iphone in the front zipper pocket, hotel key in the purse.

Wife has said, in no uncertain terms, that I am NOT traveling for at least another year, more likely two (must be at least one successful vaccine and incontrovertible evidence of flu-like herd immunity). I will need to replace my well-used TB bag by then; should be a fun shopping event.

Posted by
2548 posts

TDW and Joel, What do you have in the wallet in your pocket? And if you don't have everything, in your wallet, where is it.

My husband is a back pocket guy, but even at home he sometimes moves his wallet to his front pocket. At home it is chock full. When traveling, he has it empty but cash and ID and puts it in a interior zipped front pocket. The rest of his stuff is in a zipped front shirt pocket on a travel shirt. He doesn't wear a money belt.

Posted by
593 posts

We normally travel overseas in the winter and so it is easy for me to wear my very small crossbody PacSafe purse with its strap shortened a bit under a layer of clothing or two. We stay in rented apartments on the top floor of apartment buildings without elevators (just because we like them and they tend to be cheaper), usually for at least 5 nights, so we leave our passports, etc. in the apartment. But we carry paper copies and also photos of documents and research and itineraries on our phones.

I wear my purses crossbody at home, meaning I don't have to change my habits abroad. And except for the 40 years I've lived in Minnesota, I lived in Washington DC, London, and Chicago, so it seems normal to me to be alert (but not paranoid!) in city crowds and stores and restaurants.

Here, I should admit that my husband usually pays for things while we are traveling and I should also admit that he carries a large crossbody messenger bag that (it seems to me) is less secure than I would ideally like ---- however, I take advantage of it all the time so that I don't have to carry all my own things myself. (snacks, an extra sweater, etc.) He does not seem to mind being my B.O.B. (Beast of Burden) either at home or abroad. When I travel by myself, I use a much larger PacSafe crossbody purse. We joke that my PacSafe purses not only discourage thieves, the sight of them actually makes pickpockets flee in terror. It would be nice if these purses weren't so ugly, but you can't have everything.

Oh, one more thing, in the do-it-yourself department. So that I don't have to open my purse just to get chapstick or something else non-valuable, I sewed an external pocket to the back of it, using some very wide black elastic that is sold in fabric stores to make waistbands for pants. It doesn't look as bad as you'd think and anyway it's rarely visible.

Posted by
2548 posts

What I like most about all these posts, is that securing your items, one way or another, is mostly about not losing or misplacing them by the owner...not about pickpockets.

Posted by
593 posts

Without exception, everything we've ever had stolen from us was at home: from our own cars, garage, driveway, and front porch, and always due to our own negligence. Ditto scams. It's ourselves we have to watch out for!

Posted by
230 posts

Wray; I carry my passport card (for national ID), driver licences (because it's always in there) and a pre-paid credit card ( so if lost or stolen no one can wipe me out) in my wallet. Carry $20-30 cash in my pocket.

Posted by
19 posts

nancys8, your term (Beast of Burden) is more polite than mine. I always ask, "Why am I the donkey"? Well, it is because I carry a Baggallini crossbody when we travel. I love it because it is big enough to carry whatever we need for a day of site seeing, but small enough to not bulge out everywhere. I keep a small wallet inside and the bag zipped closed and feel very secure. My husband doesn't carry a wallet while traveling. He always wears a button down shirt with a chest pocket and in that pocket carries a small Moleskine notebook with a built in envelope in the back flap. He puts his credit cards and folded cash in that.
My husband has led study abroad trips to Italy several times and on the first few trips the older Professor in charge would take out the max amount of cash from the ATM everyday and have the students help hide the money until they need it to pay a bill. They used a bus driver who insisted on being paid in cash every few days and they paid cash at some restaurants. So imagine a bus full of college students hiding thousands of Euros in cash! Thanks goodness they don't do that anymore.

Posted by
1509 posts

Same as twd for me, except I just use one of my two ccs, and leave the drivers license in hotel if not driving. I kind of don't understand all of the drama and fear around this topic. Like others I have traveled very extensively for a long time, with no pickpocketing. That plus not carrying what I can't accept being stolen. So max loss call it $100. Somehow I am not in fear of losing $100 every 10 years or something ... that somehow doesn't seem worth all of this teeth gnashing, worry and preparation. When I look at the things that have caused me the biggest problems over the years it is invariably my own stupidity / forgetfulness not the infinitesimally small chance of a pickpocketing, which, again, wouldn't net anything except a story to tell.

Posted by
2548 posts

So it seems with all our individual systems, the bottom line is we (almost always) separate our financials in some manner, whether it is in the same purse, in another pocket, suitcase, safe or money belt. So we have more in common than not. I think most of us appear to be more concerned with loss due to our own carelessness vs pickpockets/theft. Also, more care is sometimes used when traveling solo, for obvious reasons.

Posted by
4513 posts

The key is always to have a secure system. Waist moneybelts are not the only option, as the posts here show.

What to avoid:
Wallets in pockets (front or back). These are completely unsecure against a pickpocket that is even half-way decent.

Wallets in a regular purse. Very easy for someone to slip a hand in.
Wallets in a regular bag or backpack. See purse.

Of course not everyone that uses the above methods will fall victim. It is the luck of the draw, but I am sure if someone did a study of pickpocket victims, virtually all would have been using on of those system.

The trick is to make it hard for a thief to stealthily access your valuables. Hiding under clothing is one way. Bags with secured zippers that cannot easily be opened. Wallets with secured access or inner zippered or Velco pockets. Which option is a personal choice on ease of access for yourself and comfort.

Posted by
3436 posts

OK, was not answering the original question so I have removed the bulk of my comments as being unrelated.

But those who did read the originals, you can tell I am NOT comfortable without my money belt. :-)

Posted by
2548 posts

But, the topic of this post is not about money belt or no money belt. The question is:

How do you keep your financials and documents organized or secure, excluding money belts (leg wallets, waist belts, neck wallets)? Are you comfortable having two separate spots in your bag or do you have another system? Vests? Zippered pockets? Scarfs?

Posted by
32 posts

I agree with those who say that they use the same "muscle memory" system at home as they do when they travel. At home I don’t always walk around with a purse, but when I do, it’s the same one I’ve taken to Europe: a lightweight crossbody that has a couple of interior zipped pockets and a flap with a snap that goes over the top of the purse. The outside pocket isn't zipped and it's where I carry a map, ticket/pass if I'm going to use it very soon, notes, etc. I take only what I'll need for the day. Only thing I don't like about this purse is that it doesn't have an outside pocket for a water bottle so I'm going to buy something that has a pocket for that before my next trip. I carry $10-$20 in the coin purse to buy gum, a newspaper, etc. The coin purse is in my jacket pocket (zipped). If it’s too hot for a jacket or sweater with a zipped pocket I keep bit of cash & coin, and cc/ATM card in the zipped, well camouflaged leg pockets of my wonderful Kuhl pants (lightweight, quick drying), which I wear at home too. On the road, only the passport and backup cc go in my moneybelt which is not uncomfortable to me. I wear a moneybelt because I know myself and I’ll forget it in a safe or the b&b/hotel room unless it’s strapped to my person. Sad but true. I've been thinking about getting an infinity scarf (speakeasytravelsupply.com) with hidden zipped pocket. Just not sure how carrying my phone would feel around my neck over time, but sure would be convenient. Let me know if you try them out!

Posted by
2548 posts

Bugslife, I have made some scarves. I found they hid what I put in it...tiny wallet and tiny phone...worked so well, I had a hard time finding how to get into it to pay for my food, so I guess it would work. I wore it once or twice to restaurants, but did get a little annoyed for at home. The thing about it for me is that my system, whatever it is, is consistent throughout the entire trip and I know I would not always want to wear the same scarf.

Mark, no worries. I love battles over packing so if you start another thread people can talk about the pros and cons of money belts again, instead of C-19, etc.

Ufkak, I missed what you said so part of me is really curious now. LOL

Posted by
1043 posts

I think whatever system a person uses has to work for her/him. Experienced travelers have had time to find their system. For inexperienced travelers the more organized she/he is the better and more workable the system will be. I’m organized, almost obsessive where things are packed and carried in my suitcase, tote and purse and was able to quickly reorganized when something didn’t work as well as I had planned. Last year I was amazed how disorganized my SIL was. She had no system and didn’t pre-plan. As a result we spent a day dealing with her lost passport.

I deleted my first post to stay more on topic. I do use a neck wallet to carry passport, extra credit/debit cards and cash in excess of daily amount. My tote bag has copies of reservations. I do not use hotel safes, more out of fear of not being able to open them and forgetting things. This is my comfort level.
If I’m in the US I don’t use the neck wallet and hide spare cc and cash in purse pockets and suitcase. For road trips we take more cash and excess is under the van floor mat.

Posted by
32 posts

Wray, that's good info to consider about scarves. After more thought, maybe this kind of scarf would be more appropriate for those who already wear scarves at home. Even though I like how they look on others, I sometimes feel like I'm "drowning" in material when I wear one! I do like the idea of something that looks like a regular clothing item but has another function (security, nifty organizational element, etc.).

Posted by
3360 posts

One thing I haven't seen mentioned here is the use of the spaces between and either side of the interior handle rails on wheeled luggage.

I have 3 wheeled bags, 2 with U-shaped handles and one with a T-shaped handle. All 3 have fabric covers with zippers over the back of the bags. All of those covers are cut somewhat flat. None is cut to go up and over the individual rails.

To me that wastes space, so for years I've opened those zippers and packed flattish stuff, often papers, maps and the like, that would fit in those spaces. I fill them only to the depth of the rails, making a flatter surface to pack on when I zip up the zipper.

Those interior spaces are also a good place to put or hide things that are not in use during the trip, whether or not there's a room safe. Examples for me would include cards (Medicare, Medicare supplement) that I might need in the US right before I leave and right after I return, US cash, house key and car key.

BTW, I've never had a problem with forgetting my room safe combination, but I
am 74, so that could happen the next time I get to travel 🤔. One time I did have to have the safe reset by staff when I checked in because of something the previous person in that room did.

I find that I'm using less and less European cash as time goes by, so I don't carry a lot on my person in a cross-body bag or a money belt. And I don't leave much European cash back in the room in a safe or my suitcase either.

I tend to carry one credit and one debit card in my little cross-body bag and one each in my money belt. Looks like I won't get to use my sweet little Juniper green baggallini bag I got for Ireland this year. Sigh, maybe October 2021.

So I guess I use 3 different storage places for those important things, in addition to my money belt.

Posted by
2548 posts

I want to thank everyone for their input. I love learning about other people's travel systems generally. But in this case, it is nice to know that I am not alone in thinking I can be secure like I am at home without a money belt. There are so many neat ways to separate our financials. Thanks All!

Posted by
28 posts

Lo, what a great idea to use that "extra" space behind the zippered cover of the handles! I can't believe I never thought to do that. Thanks for the tip.
Wray, I also hate money belts, I've yet to find a style that is comfortable enough to wear all day so I have stopped wearing them. As Lo mentioned, I find that I carry less and less cash with me as I try to use the credit card as often as possible both for ease of use and to get those points that I can use for future flights. Therefore, my main concern regarding theft or loss is the credit and debit cards along with my passport. I use a cross body bag that has several different compartments that are zippered and then have a buckled flap over the whole purse. It's just easier and more comfortable for me.

Posted by
1116 posts

Never used a money belt. I have my regular wallet, which is quite thin, DL and a credit card or two. A zipper pouch for some cash, although I almost never use it. I use a regular backpack, the passport stays in a zippered compartment inside my back when I need it, otherwise in the safe.

I think I’m fairly lucky. As a Chicagoan who lives in the city and is used to urban life, transit and walking, Europe isn’t as different for me as it is for many Americans.

Posted by
1649 posts

Europe isn’t as different for me as it is for many Americans.

I definitely agree with what you've said. When I'm in my suburban home town, I have a different level of caution than when I go into "the city," where I take more precautions and vigilance.

Still, it's easier to recover from a loss in either location than from a loss in Europe. So I am cautious with my passport (and extra funds) as if my "vacation depended on it." I regularly carry my passport in the zippered pocket that I sew into the back waistband of my travel pants. I know it's not going anywhere. And as a solo traveler, I know that I'd have it in a personal emergency.

Posted by
2548 posts

As a Chicagoan who lives in the city and is used to urban life, transit and walking, Europe isn’t as different for me as it is for many Americans.

I agree with Dale. I, too, am a city person and it is why I wonder what the difference is and it is why I'm tired of acting a bit paranoid since discovering RS. It's why I asked this question, really. I have yet to go on a trip where my final city does not have a US embassy so I really don't worry about my passport like others seem to do. It is quite easily replaceable in little time. As I've said before, I like to separate my credit cards and ATM card (although seldom used the last few trips) as those are more of a hassle to replace or, perhaps impossible, while abroad on a short trip. I do separate them at home as well. Traveling with my husband, there's really no worry anyway as it is unlikely we will lose our items at the same time.

Traveling solo is my largest concern. My biggest dilemma is the trips to the bathroom on the plane when solo, because I do not want to leave half my financials behind in my personal item nor do I want to bring my purse to the small restroom. There are some good ideas here for that, as well as confirmation that others leave their backup at the hotel in their suitcases with no problems.

Posted by
5956 posts

I have travelled regularly on my own on a plane and have never worried about leaving my bag by my seat when I go to the loo. Who’s going to steal it and if they do where are they going to go with it? :-)
I keep it tucked well out of the way under the seat so it would be very obvious if someone tried to take it.
On occasion when travelling on an intercity train( not a stopper) I have asked a nearby passenger to keep an eye on my bag. Again it’s hidden under my coat etc so just a quick “I’m popping to the loo, can you keep an eye on my stuff”. Never had a problem. In my experience people are happy to help. And it can be an ice breaker for a chat.

Posted by
20 posts

My daughter.had her wallet stolen when she went to the loo on a flight. I had to wire money to her when she arrived in D. C.

Posted by
1649 posts

I have yet to go on a trip where my final city does not have a US embassy

I love when my last city has a US embassy. It does take an edge off the concern about losing my passport.