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All In Money Belt OR Stash in Hotel/Apartment/B&B?

THIS is the question. I've heard RS state on his videos that he's never had his hotel room rifled, but cash is cash & it just seems too easy for quick-fingered hotel maids to strike.

We will be in Paris & Lucerne hotels, then an apartment in Florence and a B&B in Salerno. I'm leaning towards keeping everything in the money belt (actually neck pouch) all the time or maybe stashing while in the Florence apartment.

What do y'all think?

Posted by
16761 posts

I never leave anything valuable out to tempt people who might otherwise be honest. Normally, all my back-up cash and credit cards are on my person in my money belt. If I'm going to the beach, the money belt doesn't work, so in that case I usually lock it unseen inside my large bag, or if the room has a safe, then this would be pretty much the only time I would use it. Those steps won't stop determined thieves, but I don't expect many of those.

For apartments, you should have an idea of how often any staff are expected to visit, if at all, but of course you know that someone has keys. I'd take the same precautions there, namely not to leave any valuables that I can easily carry and to do my best to hide and secure any that I can't.

Posted by
5281 posts

You will get people who have done it both ways and are sure their way is the best. Do whatever makes you feel secure. We are in the everything-strapped-to-the-body-all-the-time camp -- money, credit cards, passport -- and don't find the money belts any problem. Not that we think it's unsafe in the hotel/apartment but it's just easier to have everything with us. Others feel differently.

Posted by
5484 posts

The answer may depend on the amount of cash involved. A corollary forum issue involved the need to accumulate a large (mult-thousands) amount of Euro denominated currency for what ever reason. While in Paris, I needed to accumulate through multi-ATM withdraws about 3000 EUR, not an amount I would normally walk around with even in small town USA.

Our strategy was to spread the currency around dividing the currency accumulated between my wife and I and also hiding currency in a couple of bags left in the Paris hotel. Hope was that in a black swan event, we would only lose a baby swan's worth of currency. Strategy is not keeping all of ones eggs in one basket.

I don't have any idea as to how prevalent muggings are in Europe, but if confronted with a weapon carrying mugger demanding your money belt (or neck pouch), wallet and iPhone, the prudent thing would be to give it up. Now if one is carrying 3000 EUR in one's belt/pouch, there may be enough of a hesitation to trigger a violent response from the mugger.

Bottom line is avoiding the ALL in one place.

Posted by
1713 posts

Well, there's that too. While I don't think we'll be carrying more than 1000 Euro at any given time due to ATM debit withdrawals, we are planning on paying cash whenever possible. And I know that the apartment dude in Florence needs his total amount of Euro in cash upfront, so I would guess we'll have between 500-1000 on us at all times. Not a small amount.

I think I will neck pouch it for all except maybe 50 in a ratty wallet in my front pocket & go from there. Only thing is that I am not an undershirt guy, so I will have to do a test to see if I can stand the damn thing up against my skin all day long. At least it'll be cold and I'll have a jacket on so it won't look like I have a pacemaker!

Posted by
4498 posts

If hotel maids stole from rooms, they would soon find themselves out of a job and the Tripadvisor reviews would go negative in a hurry. I won't say it's never happened, but it is likely very rare.

Now what can happen is that maids leave doors open while they work in several rooms at once. Another guest walks by and sees money or a valuable sitting on a desk, and in less than 10 seconds it is gone. So NEVER leave valuables out in the open. I put them in my bag which is locked with a travel lock. As noted, it won't prevent someone determined from getting in, but it deters the quick grab and go.

Your valuables are just as safe if properly secured on your person. A neck pouch is pretty foolproof. "Muggings" are extremely rare in most of Europe. Most thieves work in stealth.

Posted by
4938 posts

Jay what would you do if you were visiting San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York City, or whatever city you live in?

Posted by
1713 posts

Not really a valid argument, Stan, except from a devil's advocate point of view. I live just outside Chicago. I visit Vegas. In both those areas, I know where the bad areas are and stay the hell away, regardless of how much $$$ I'm carrying on my person. Where I'll be--Paris, Lucerne, Milan, Florence, Naples--I really have no idea where I shouldn't be. And besides, this 'petty theft' seems to take place more often than not where people congregate--trains, subways, tourist attractions--not 'bad' areas, per se.

So it's inevitable that in those European cities I will be in areas where that kind of crime could take place. I guess my final answer is to wear a neck pouch with everything, pay cash whenever possible (to minimize credit card scamming), utilize the debit card only at bank ATM's during working hours (so I can get the card back if the machine eats it), and, finally, to enjoy but be aware of surroundings. I've been in enough bad neighborhoods to be able to sense that if it feels nasty, it usually is.

Posted by
2347 posts

You may not be an undershirt kind of guy, but you might try it anyway. My husband bought a few black t-shirts, with breast pockets, and wore those under his sweaters. He could keep the neck wallet under the t-shirt, and some spending money in the pocket, and it was all secure. He felt very comfortable with it all.

Posted by
4938 posts

Jay, I was thinking in terms of your comfortableness in leaving cash in your hotel room in those American cities, vs abroad. I don't see their maids any more or less trustworthy. I understand not knowing the turf in those cities. FWIW, I use the room safes while traveling at home and abroad.

Posted by
7640 posts

Use the hotel room safe if they are available.

What Douglas says is valid. In todays world with instant reviews, hotels and their staff that weren't trustworthy would find themselves closed in a heartbeat.

Muggings and burglaries aren't common crimes in any of the cities you are going to. Pick-pockets, yes, but not muggings.

Posted by
42 posts

Have traveled all over the world. Only time a machine ate my atm card was on a street corner in Bangkok. Very stressful. By that time, I was always carrying a back-up atm card so I was not lost. I try to carry the back-up elsewhere on my person in a safe place, in addition to a money belt. Have had my pocket picked (or attempt made) all over the world. When you go to other countries, thieves are opportunistic. They usually are not violent. They create a distraction so a second person will be less noticed by you. Have never lost anything of value because I do not carry anything of value in my pocket. I travel solo, so cannot depend on someone else to carry extra card or cash. I have been known to carry $100 underneath the lining of each shoe. I always figure it will buy me out of trouble anywhere in the world, or at least get me to the embassy. Had friends who were robbed (clearly by professionals) at a major park in Madrid on a Saturday afternoon. They had weapons and took all their money, money belts, credit cards, passports, etc. I try not to carry too much cash and get it from an atm every couple of days. Make sure the atm is at a bank. Last year in Ireland, I had trouble getting cash from atm. I do not have chip pin technology on my atm card. Some of the banks require that now. I went inside and they helped me to get money. Keep it all on you. Chances are remote you will encounter professional thieves.

Posted by
12086 posts

Hi,

I don't use the room safe either here in the US or in Europe, never have for stashing extra cash, credit cards, etc. In your case I would/do use both the neck pouch and the hidden pocket, where cash is split up among different places as are credit cards. If I wear a light jacket, passport and some cash go into an inside zipped pocket not easily opened because of the zipper.

I've never had my room rifled in all my trips, although one time in Paris I thought that had happened, was about to complain at the front desk, which was a good thing I did not. I found the "missing" item in my luggage where I had put it. Luckily I was wrong in thinking that the maid had taken it, as I correctly discovered was not the case.

Posted by
30929 posts

Jay,

I never use hotel room safes as I used to work as a Locksmith, and they're not as "safe" one might think. While thefts from hotel safes are probably not too common, I prefer to keep my valuables with me in my Money Belt. I don't typically carry large sums of cash, but just use the ATM when necessary to get a few hundred Euro at a time.

Posted by
11481 posts

We're more comfortable splitting cards and cash between the room safe and our Pacsafe/hidden pouches (we don't use money belts) than having all the eggs in one basket. That's necessary when moving between cities and countries but otherwise the goods are divided up. We usually keep our passports in the safe as well and just carry paper copies.

Tourists rarely stray into "bad" areas as there often isn't anything fun to do or see in them but sure, crime can happen anywhere. We just feel more secure knowing we've got a backup if misfortune comes to one or the other of the stashes. We also use our credit cards at every hotel which will take one, and have used them for a fair amount of meals as well - just as we would at home.

Posted by
11613 posts

If I have change leftover from the day, I usually empty my pockets and leave it on the dresser until the next morning. Sometimes I forget to take it with me, but it has never disappeared. Once it was rearranged by coin value!

I tend not to leave valuables in the hotel room, and I have never used a hotel room safe, but everything gets stashed away in a neck pouch (worn cross-body or holster style under clothing).

Posted by
7 posts

Hi Jay,

How much money will you be carrying? I would advise against carrying so much cash that it bulges or doesn't fit in your money belt. Most places have ATMs or take credit card. Paying a $5 foreign withdraw fee is a whole lot better than being robbed of thousands.

I also would not trust the hotel/hostels. I never leave cash I'm not willing to lose, and certainly not my passport. I've had my bag opened, and locks broken through before, and thankfully I left nothing valuable behind.

Posted by
1713 posts

An update. We returned about a week-and-a-half ago, all in one piece, after 18 days on the road. Before we left, we decided that any time we would be leaving the hotel/apartment/B&B, everything of value would go with us. Wife had the money belt, I had the neck pouch. As I said somewhere else on a thread, the security was nice but what was better was that I knew where everything was at all times. With multiple pockets inside & out of my jacket, it would be too easy to leave something behind or to drop out of my pocket.

Only time I can think of that someone could have tried pickpocketing me was on the Paris Metro, which was most always crowded to the gills, and I was standing most of the time. Otherwise, being March instead of July, the throngs of people were just not there, which was very nice indeed.

Comfort-wise...yeah, I felt that string around my neck at times, but a small price to pay. I'll do it exactly the same way next time.

Posted by
11613 posts

Jay, thanks for posting that all went well.

Posted by
431 posts

Hi,

For the most part I think the hotels are pretty safe because the 1st one accused will be the person that cleans the room. My husband accidentally left about $1,000 on the bed. We found it all right on the desk when we returned. I wouldn't normally leave that much cash just laying around. Since then we will split it up if we are carrying large sums. Some in my money belt, some in the hotel in different places.

Mary

Posted by
431 posts

Hi,

For the most part I think the hotels are pretty safe because the 1st one accused will be the person that cleans the room. My husband accidentally left about $1,000 on the bed. We found it all right on the desk when we returned. I wouldn't normally leave that much cash just laying around. Since then we will split it up if we are carrying large sums. Some in my money belt, some in the hotel in different places.

Mary

Posted by
516 posts

I agree with the poster that said that everyone will think their way is the best and will have reasons to support, so here's my strategy:

  • If I do have to leave a portion of my cash in the hotel room, it's usually tucked deep in my bag and the bag is locked and on occasion I've even locked my bag to a large piece of furniture using a cable/wire lock.
  • I ALWAYS have my passport on me at all times along with a couple of color copies. Some might argue it's safer in the hotel safe, but I have a tendency to think "doomsday" scenarios and in the event of some catastrophe where I can't get back to my hotel, or the hotel burns down or whatever, I have what I need to either 1.) fly out of town or 2.) go to the US consulate or embassy.
  • I never use the hotel safe for reasons other people hear have noted.
  • Up until last year I used a money belt for the bulk of my money and my passport, after which I switched to a neck wallet, for comfort.
  • It's true that a mugger could ask you for your money belt by threat of force, since money belts are so common and they probably assume you have one. If you really want to be safe, you can wear an empty money belt as a decoy and use a neck wallet for the real thing. That way, if a mugger did demand your money belt, you could just give it to him and he can assume he's done with you.

Although in Europe ATM's are everywhere, I once took a trip to Tanzania and the tour operator required that the various excursions be paid in US cash of bills dated no earlier than 1999 or 2000. The total amount of cash needed in this case exceeded $1000 USD. Because USD, especially new bills, are virtually impossible to get in that part of the world, I needed to leave home with all this cash. So I ended up distributing it all over my person: some under the sole of each shoe, some in a money belt, some deep in my bag, some in an ankle wallet tucked under my sock.