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Money belts/security for women

I have a money belt and have used it for years, but when I'm travelling in summer, I like to wear dresses, skirts etc and a money belt doesn't work. Even a neck belt is problematic if I'm wearing a scooped neck top.

Ideas for alternatives that I can use during warmer Weather? I will carry a cross body bag but always have to keep it held closely to me.

Posted by
991 posts

Just curious, what is it about wearing a money belt that doesn't work with a dress or skirt? I have used one with a dress. If it is because you can't access it, usually you only use it to store things you won't be needing such as extra cash, credit cards you won't be using that day, and your passport. I use a cross body bag for the cash I will be using that day and other things I need to access. I just keep it in front of me and put a hand over it in crowds.

Posted by
15967 posts

rizell, there are all sorts of methods for keeping valuables safe, and no single method works for everyone. That's OK as long as it does work.

Regardless of what we're wearing, money belts simply do not do it for us. We tried and neither of us could tolerate them. The answer was a cross-body pacsafe bag with theft-resistant closures. A thief would really have to work to get into it and I doubt they'd even attempt to. Our passports, credit cards and bulk of daily cash go into that, and I pin a very small, zippered pouch just under my waistband for quick access to small amounts of $: comfortable, virtually invisible, and inaccessible without my knowledge.

Travelon makes this sort of bag as well. We've used ours enough that it was well worth the price (have loaned it to friends too) and you never feel like you have to death-clutch the thing. Doing that with a bag sort of advertises that there's something of value in it?

Posted by
2120 posts

Oh, I am empathize with you. Yes, in the summer, it can be very problematic to "hide" the straps of a neck-style wallet, especially when it is so hot that the extra layer of even a light scarf can add extra heat. But, that's the only solution I've add just add just the lightest, airiest (sp?) scarf tied a little lower around my neck to hide the big squarish, stiff bulge that results when one wears a neck wallet. And, the thinner one is, the more that big, still bulge stands out. And, it is stands out, that defeats the whole purpose of hiding where one stashes their stuff, right?
The waist wallet also causes that bulge to appear, just in a different place.

And, while some will say you should not have to access the items you have inyour safe neck/waist wallet while out and about, I have found at times that I DO have to access things while out and about....the unexpected large purchase or needing to show an ID (where we did not think we'd have to), etc. Yes, you can always pop into a restroom to pull out what you need to pull out, but I prefer just turning (in a private corner) to pull out my neck wallet, etc. vs. having to potentially get up under a dress to access it.

There have been a few times that I have worn a neck wallet turned around, so the bulge part would be actually on my lower back (but that can cause issues in crowded trains or just crowds in general.

I've found a preference for traveling in shoulder season, just so it is easier to add that extra scarf to hide the neck wallet. But, that said, yes, I would still jump at the chance to go on a special middle-of-the-summer trip, I'd just add a light scarf to hide the straps of the neck wallet and have the scarf tied such that it hides that sure-to-happen bulge. A light gauzy white over-shirt could also work (and provide just a smidge of protection from the sun, too).

Then, I added to the problem when we renewed our passports last time, and we requested the passport version with more pages (since we filled out normal size passport so quickly). Gosh, that thicker passport (I exaggerate) feels like one is carrying the NYC phone book around her neck!! But, not exaggerating, it really is significantly thicker and stiffer than a typical neck or waist wallet, it requires some sort of extra fluffy cover to hide the bulge.

My sister sews in special zipped pockets into her clothing, and I guess that could work better in certain circumstances.

For our larger supply of emergency cash, the extra credit card, emergency phone numbers, etc., I've altered a neck wallet that my husband wears holster style under his arm. Does it get wet from sweat during the hot summer? Oh, yes. We save specific sized plastic bags for extra protection. We also take an extra one altered neck wallet for him to wear while the other dries out.....yes, ewww, gross, but it works. A woman could also wear this in a similar fashion, and that would leave just one strap to hide around the neck, and I guess you could fashion a temporary velcro or other loop to pull it under the shoulder seam???

Posted by
15503 posts

I do know some women who have taken a Hidden Pocket type of money belt and used a safety pin through the loops to pin it to the inside of their dresses. Of course this doesn't make it very accessible but it is probably more comfortable.

Posted by
8580 posts

rizell check out a runner's type of hidden pocket the tube waistband Amazon has some similar products. They might be more unobtrusive than a regular money belt.

Posted by
542 posts

Thanks for all the responses so far!

If I wear something underneath the dress around the waist, it would be practically impossible to get to.

Two years ago in Italy it was 90+ degrees, and there was no way I was going to wear anything else around my neck. On those days I did just use my cross body bag and keep it close.

I will look into the PacSafe and other Travelon bags.

Posted by
221 posts

I do use the neck wallet when I wear a dress. I just wear it over my shoulder and pin the strap to my bra. That way the wallet rests on your side. It worked out well for me on my last trip to Europe.

Posted by
542 posts

OK, question: if I wear the neck wallet under my dress, how do I get to it to access my money, credit cards, etc?


Posted by
173 posts

Diane, I like your system. The pouch would rest along the lower ribs rather than under the arm. Will try it next trip.

Posted by
1307 posts

And I now do what Diane does.
I can adjust the strap for longer or shorter, longer if I think I might need to get into it during the day when I am out and about.
It wouldn't work with spaghetti strap dresses or "extreme" sleeveless because the strap would likely show in the back.
Mine is silk and it's made by Eagle Creek. It's soft and comfortable; I really do forget it's on me.

Posted by
2768 posts

Wear it under your dress and don't access it during the day. It's for your passport and emergency cash/cards. Carry daily cash and if you need it a credit card in a purse. In an emergency you can go to a bathroom or something otherwise just use it as storage for stuff you need safe but not easily accessible

Posted by
4535 posts

If you have a secure bag or purse, there is no reason to have a moneybelt or neck pouch. They are redundant. The point is to keep your valuables safe, not to make them inaccessible. And to find a method that works best and is most comfortable for you.

Now this does mean the bag or purse needs to be secure. Thieves cannot easily unzip and access it. Several companies mentioned in this thread are designed for this specific purpose. And it means one cannot be careless with the bag. Never sling it over a chair or set it down - it stays over your shoulder all day. If this is an issue for you, find another method.

As a man, I like wearing a belt loop wallet. It just hangs on my belt and cannot be removed or easily accessed by thieves. Everything goes in there and I can pretty easily retrieve what I need. As long as I wear a belt it works.

Posted by
606 posts

You have to do what works for you. I think each person develops his/her own system.

As a solo (female) traveler, I wear a money belt the entire time--it contains:
1) passport (including an updated emergency contact page). I don't leave my passport at the hotel. I want to be able to leave the country immediately in case of political emergency or other threat. Paranoid I know, but still...
2) $100 in emergency cash
3) a back up credit card
4) a single sheet of paper with my credit card numbers, and important phone numbers in case my iPhone is lost or stolen.

In my purse I carry ID, local currency, primary credit card, copy of my passport photo page, and emergency contact info.

On recent trips to London in December and March, I put the money belt as soon as I got to my hotel room. I wore it 24/7 (yes I slept with it on) except for taking showers. It is terry cloth against my skin so it does not get sweaty, I don't put much in it so it's not bulky, I spin it around so it sits on the small of my back instead of on my front (much more comfortable) and no one knows I'm wearing it because I never need to access it when out and about. It's so comfortable that I forget I am wearing it. In fact that I forgot to take it off before heading to Heathrow to fly home(!) No problem, I just ducked into the restroom to remove it.

I like the peace of mind. I hope you find a system that works for you!

Posted by
15967 posts

We all have to do what's comfortable for us but Julie, I really don't think you need to sleep with your money belt on!

Posted by
4171 posts

I have a variety of money belts.

The one that I like the least is the neck wallet. I'm curvy with lumps and bumps aplenty. There is no place on my upper torso than is flat enough for that thing to be anything close to comfortable.

The one I like the best is the runner's waist band. It's an Eazymate like this one. It's the most comfortable of any I have, but I have not actually worn it loaded up, so I don't really know how well it works in action.

This may be TMI, but regardless of the heat, I wear a shapewear cami and shapewear panties. Shapewear tops are always supposed to be worn under shapewear bottoms. I wear the moneybelt between the shapewear cami and the panties. I don't seem to have any problems in the heat because the shapewear breathes. I'm hoping the runner's money belt will also breathe.

Any comfortable waist money belt can be accessed from the waist band of a skirt, a front button up dress or a pair of pants. I can definitely see how wearing a dress without a front opening would make access difficult. I'd love to wear a skirt or dress on a trip, but I look like Mrs. Potato Head in any kind of skirt or dress. I don't even own a dress or skirt.

I hate the way most photos of people wearing a money belt show it on the outside of their clothes. It's a good way to illustrate the money belt, but the absolute wrong way to wear one.

As for purses, I take the smallest cross-body possible with only the things I have to have, not everything I think I might need. Last trip it was this one. This year I'm going even smaller with this one.

If I have to take some other kind of bag for some reason, I prefer something see-through so that potential baddies can tell there's nothing worth stealing. My favorite was a cotton mesh one similar to this or this. I had it for a long time, but it finally rotted away. I hope to find one at a market in Rome this summer. I really like the long handle and it will make a good souvenir.

Posted by
606 posts

Ha--I can see how my comment might have been unclear. I'm not worried about someone breaking into my hotel room! I'm concerned that if the fire alarm goes off in the middle of the night (and it's for real), I wouldn't have the presence of mind to grab my money belt before dashing out. :)

Posted by
630 posts

As a man, I like wearing a belt loop wallet. It just hangs on my belt
and cannot be removed or easily accessed by thieves. Everything goes
in there and I can pretty easily retrieve what I need. As long as I
wear a belt it works.

Douglas, you can still wear the belt loop wallet without a belt. Just use carabiner clips and clip them to the belt loops. Just another option if you don't want to wear a belt. :)

Posted by
4970 posts

Julie, FWIW, you don't sound paranoid to me -- just a good planner which we define as hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

Posted by
14150 posts

Julie, I HAVE had the fire alarm go off in the middle of the night! It was a false alarm but I realized I needed to have my room key/clothes/shoes/purse/moneybelt staged in case of emergency.

It helps me to develop habits of putting stuff in the same place or same order in each hotel so I don't forget something. So, moneybelt comes off in the hotel room, it goes across the top of my purse on a desk if there is one, if not- on a chair. Key right beside the purse. Shoes/socks underneath that.

Posted by
1420 posts

Yup. Fire alarm 11pm. Smoke in their commercial laundry area, they finally let us back into lobby (January , Boston) I stood near lovely family of German tourists w perfect English who could not understand the thick accents of the Boston fire fighters . i often tell the story of the night i had to translate English to English ...."the father is curious when they can take the children back to their beds" "the captain is sure the machine just over heated, but they need to check a few more things before they can let us go upstairs "

Posted by
173 posts

We were awakened by a fire alarm in the middle of the night while in Vegas, so I'm very particular about hotel room organization of valuables.

Posted by
606 posts

I had to take biennial travel safety trainings at my previous employer and let's just say that the trainer had seen everything. :)

Posted by
144 posts

We were once asleep and the fire alarm went off in our hotel. It was years and years ago but the memory stays with me.. It was so dark in our room and the first night in our hotel... it sure taught us a lesson. I never travel without a flashlight. I place it on the nightstand and have my shoes and purse ready to leave quickly.. I found the best little flash light that clips on to anything .. leaves hands free if necessary at Eddie Bauer.. bright, light and easy to pack.. I always have it in my purse on airplanes.
So handy..

Posted by
208 posts

I've stopped taking a flashlight. Now, I just use the flashlight feature on my iPhone. I always keep it at my bedside. That's one MORE item my phone has replaced! LOL.

Posted by
524 posts

I use my money belt just for my passport and emergency CC/cash. I put it on backwards so it dots at the small of my back. You can't even see it. I wear with skirts and dresses.

If I wear a neck one and don't want it to show, I put in on one shoulder and loop it around my bra strap, then place crossbody.

Posted by
490 posts

I swear by this! Get one with the long straps the simple one snap design is silly... and can fall off easily, I prefer this style..

I attach only ONE strap to my bra strap, it fits several credit cards and cash...then I snap it shut, tuck it into the side of my bra under my arm, you won't feel it as long as you do not over pack...and that way you have it handy, yet the strap means no one can grab it out of your hand and run with it.

As for your passport you will probably have to wear in under your clothing..but if it is just the passport it won't be so bad.

Enjoy your travel!

Posted by
225 posts

JJ - I have used that bra wallet and it works well, except that I feel very self conscious while wearing it. I hadn't thought of tucking it in the side of my bra, but I would imagine that it's also an odd sensation. It is not even nearly big enough for a passport though.
This is a very controversial subject (some of the posts can get very frightening). I will wear a money belt when it's not terribly uncomfortable, but I do tend to rely on an anti-theft travel purse. I like my travelon. It's very light weight. Twice, we have been targeted by pickpockets (both in France - different trips, and both on the Metro). Both times, the anti-theft purse foiled the pickpockets. Once, my son was carrying it at the time and he didn't even realize what was going on until he felt the zipper tug. It tugged because it was clipped shut and the thieves were unable to open it.
I have also made my own "body safe" I used a very soft fabric so it wouldn't rub on my skin and I pinned it to my bra on the side of my body (much the same way JJ used the bra wallet). Worked like a charm.
I would suggest playing with some ideas while still at home. When you've found a way that is comfortable for you, you'll feel more confident while traveling.

Posted by
206 posts

Late to the discussion but, I wear a money belt all the time since I am not a "purse" person. I bought a silk money belt because the cheaper kind gave me a heat rash. Once on a trip after a hot day, I even washed it in the hotel sink. It dried well enough later that day to wear it again. If not, there is always the hotel hair dryer....At night, I keep it right on top of the next day's clothes so it goes right on. Or, in the event of fire alarm going off, I can dress fast and not forget the money belt. I always keep my passport in it, same reason as above, might have problem in case of international incident, or even fire at the hotel (our hotel was evacuated once, we were the last ones left, had been gone all day, power pole struck by lightning fell down, hotel lost power, everyone had to leave). You just never know, and it gives me peace of mind to have what I really need with me at all times.

Posted by
33 posts

I am really appreciating all these tips, because a traditional money belt is very uncomfortable to me.

For what it's worth, I've been to Europe 3 times and never used anything other than a regular purse or backpack, and never had any trouble. But it would be great to find a comfortable solution to completely safeguard the passport and credit cards for a little extra peace of mind.