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Does my husband need a money belt ?

This is our first time traveling to Europe. We near a large city and have traveled in the US ( where we live ) and Canada.

I've read a lot of posts, but would like to have your opinions.

Flying out of Logan ( Boston ) and connecting through Amsterdam to Strasbourgh. We will be picking up a rental car in Strasbourgh and dropping it at Orly before taking a cab into Paris. Then a cab to CDG for flight home.

All of our hotels have safes and we leave cash and valuables in the safe.
Any transfer with luggage will be by rental car or cab.

We tend to be walkers, so may use the metro once or twice.

From what I have read -your money belt is the vault - not day to day cash - which is secured differently.

To me the risky areas are:

Flight out and transfers ( Logan - minor risk ) Amsterdam & Strasbourgh - not sure.

Flight home - CDG airport

Would please share with me your thoughts, experiences and recommendations.

Posted by
8906 posts

One thing to keep in mind that money belts protect you from both losses from theft and accidentally loosing things. The latter is probably the greatest threat. In your situation I would use a money belt type device while in transit from place to place and the rental car. When you are out sightseeing the hotel room safe will suffice.

Posted by
13972 posts

Are you going to use a credit card or ATM card when you are out and about? I would feel uncomfortable if I carried a credit card around all day (in pocket or day bag) in order to pay for dinner in the evening. I also would not ever leave cash and valuables in a parked car - certainly not a passport.

PS - be sure to have both your drivers' licenses and your International Driving Permits with you whenever you drive the car.

Posted by
166 posts

The reality is that the chances of getting pick pocketed are small if it does happen to you it can certainly put a damper on a otw wonderful experience. Your going to get a lot of different ideas on this so I'll throw mine into the mix.

1) Either use a money belt or choose clothing designed to prevent pickpockets (Clothing Arts.com)

2) Most importantly you want peace of mind while your visiting these wonderful places in Europe so why not make sure you don't have to worry about calling from overseas to cancel your credit cards and get new ones or get a new passport.

3) Men can use the money belt that has a loop that goes through their belt and then tucks down into their pants, this is simple and effective.

4) Keep your credit cards and debit cards and any extra cash in the money belt. Take out the cash you want to spend that morning or afternoon put it in a small leather pouch (sold on Rick Steves store site), I put this pouch in my front chest shirt pocket that has a button down flap and a inner zipper. This may seem like overkill but it works for me and in certain places it has been very effective (Barcelona, Paris, Rome, etc.)

5) If your going to take a purse make sure you can wear it cross body comfortably, and that it has a zipper closer, my wife likes the one she bought from "Packsafe", a company that specializes in secure luggage and bags.

6) By doing these things you can then enjoy your trip and concentrate on the awesome sights around you and not on "fear" of being exploited. Europe is a wonderful place and I have traveled there for over 10 years and still look forward every year to going again! Have a great time!

Posted by
772 posts

I would never leave my passport in my hotel room. I just feel better having it in me in my money belt. My husband prefers the neck one if he doesn't want to wear the waist one.

Posted by
5738 posts

We always keep passports, iPadsin hotel safes. If no safe in room, lock them in luggage.
Secure credit cards, ATM cards in zip pockets inside of zipped cross body bag. No problems in over 30 years of European travel.

Posted by
3996 posts

I have had three trips within Europe so far this year, each lasting at least 4 weeks and we never use a money belt or neck wallet and we have not had any issues. We have used these for travel in Africa.

Passports, driving licenses and credit cards are in my cross body bag. Passports stay in our apartment and in certain countries where it’s legal to carry a driving license, we do so, otherwise they also stay back at base. We ensure mobile phones are put in buttoned or zipped pockets. Just be vigilant.

Posted by
2336 posts

Rick has a good article on this topic here: https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/theft-scams/outsmarting-pickpockets. You’ll find many opinions on this board. Those who never use a money belt and have had no problems? Good for them! But pickpockets are out there and my comfort level is best served by wearing a money belt. I keep a copy of my passport, a credit card in the belt, about 50 Euros in a zipped pocket for gelato and the like, knowing that could be lost. If we sit down for a meal and I need a credit card I go to the WC, take it out. After I pay, back to the WC, put it back. A bit of a bother but better than the hassle of reporting and replacing a lost card. I was almost pickpocketed in the Athens metro while being vigilant. I’d say your biggest risk is the metro and in crowds. Vigilance helps, but these thieves are very good at what they do.

Posted by
10846 posts

I agree with donseery; its a matter of personal comfort and enjoyment. Especially with the places you are going. Except maybe Paris you arent going where the act is prevalent. I go over a couple of times a year and have gotten into the habit of wearing a heavy duty neck wallet with a wire sewn into the strap (Pacsafe is the brand). But i wear it across my body on the outside like a small "man bag". Do I need it? Not really probably, just a matter of personal comfort. Every thing is convenient but the two step opening method leaves things relatively safe and i always know where it is. Spending money i just cram in my pocket like i do at home. I also split cards and cash with my traveling companion so if one of does get hit, we still have a trip. I carry my passport because i am more likely to forget it in a hotel safe than i am loose it and in most of Eastern Europe where i spend most of my time its law. But thats just me. The difference between home and traveling is that at home i have a support network to replace everything while traveling that isnt the same, and while loosing my wallet at home messes up a day, in Europe it would mess up a lot more... Again, more personal comfort than anything else...

Posted by
915 posts

My family and I have traveled almost 20 years in Europe and only the first trip did we try and use a money belt or neck wallet. It ended up to be very uncomfortable and so we left them behind after that.

First, we don't travel with excessive amounts of money or jewelry or have multiple credit cards. Second, we make a copy of passport and CC cards. We leave the copy of the CC and the actual passport in safe in the hotel along with the money we will not be using that day. While people can steal a safe, I've never heard or read about anyone stealing from a hotel safe. Some people will say you need your passport on you at all times. After traveling through Turkey and Western Europe we've never been asked for our passport outside of hotels or some attractions.

We all use some form of cross bag or purse with zippers and pouches and we are vigilant on watching each other put away their money. Knock on wood, we never had a problem on public transport or walking. But it's what YOU feel comfortable doing.

Posted by
5035 posts

KER, traveling in Europe is no more risky or scary than to popular tourist destinations in the US. Losing your passport and cards to a pickpocket or room thief while traveling abroad is a low risk, but high consequence event. Choosing to not wear one is like saying you wont wear seatbelts because you've never had an accident. If you do lose your passport and cards, are you prepared to deal with the situation? If so, then do what's comfortable. Thievery comes up a lot in discussions because so many US travelers are oblivious to these kind of risks and prevention, at home or abroad.

You need to have passports accessible yet hidden while at airports, because you may have to show it at security checks. You dont want to be digging under your clothes for that. Once through, put them in your money belt.

Like Michael said, losing your valuables is probably the bigger risk. Wife found someone's daypack with valuables hanging on a restroom door once. It happens.

Posted by
614 posts

I have been traveling internationally for over 20 years and I use my money belt when I travel along with a cross-body purse. I typically leave my Passport in the safe in the hotel or flat. If driving, I keep it on me in my money belt. During that time, I have never been pickpocketed, but I have traveled with friends and colleagues who have not been so fortunate and it is an inconvenience replacing credit cards, but it is a major trip disruption replacing a lost passport. Money belts have become more comfortable over the years as well.

Regardless of your decision to take a money belt, you do need a strategy to protect your valuables and how you are going to replace them if they are lost or stolen. You have received great advice already on this forum and I would check out RS advice as well.

Sandy

Posted by
113 posts

Can you afford to be picked?
Even Rick Steves had his pocket picked last year. No one is 100% safe from the professionals.
When on the train in Rome, a fellow traveler's wife yelled at a pickpocket who had his hand in her husband's pocket. He and I were close enough to touch and yet I didn't sense the stranger's hand, arm, body. Her husband said he felt absolutely nothing. There was nothing in his front pocket of value but a folded guide pamphlet had the appearance of a wallet or phone he guessed.
When visiting the Roman Forum, I was completely engrossed in the history of the place. A couple of fellow tour travelers told me there was a man who was checking out my over-the-body handbag. I can't say I was particularly aware of him as there were a lot of people around. He was discouraged because not only was it in front of me but I had the zippers tied together with a ribbon.
I know myself well enough to know I'm not on constant alert so I used a money belt for my passport, credit cards, extra cash. If I needed anything from the belt, I simply found a restroom or someplace discreet to get what I needed. It helped with my peace of mind. I planned my credit card and cash needs in the morning before venturing out.
Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
3141 posts

Does my husband need a money belt ?

You're asking only about your husband and not you? Why?

A money belt isn't a tourist scam.

Posted by
45 posts

Thanks everyone,

One thing I can I always count on is great advice form both sides of the equation and of course the usual snarky answers. I often wonder why people take the time to reply rudely to a question.

So the reason I am asking about my husband is that I ALWAYS use a cross body bag. ( raising two very active little boys insured that I always had to have both hands free ). My husband is reluctant to wear a money belt on touring days - and I wondered if everyone wore one all the time - or only when it seemed risky.

He does take a small camera bag that he can swing to the front.

It's definitely not that I am being cheap, and in terms of planning - I'm pretty much ready to go. ( leave in 6 weeks ). I have rough itineraries planned, guidebooks read, all reservations for hotels, museum pass etc. So pretty much winding up some odds and ends.

Posted by
3322 posts

I have been going to Europe for 15 years, mostly for business but have had the opportunity to take 10 RS tours and do several trips on my own for a total of just over 50 trips through almost every country in Europe.

I never go anywhere in Europe without a money belt. I wear it every day everywhere except sleeping at night. I keep my passport in it (inside a sandwich sized zip lock bag to protect for any moisture), all of my credit and debit cards (2 of each from different banks in case one bank shuts me off because they forgot to note my travel plans), whatever extra cash I have I'm not planning on using as spending money that day, and emergency contact info. This doesn't take up too much space and is not uncomfortable at all using the silk money belt sold in the RS online store. If I miscalculate and need more cash during the day, I find a secluded spot to access my money belt to get it, same with credit cards (you don't have to use a toilette do do this but sometimes that is the only option). I never leave anything of value in my hotel room because I have seen how simple and easy it is for a hotel employe to open a safe when you forget your passcode. Not saying any current hotel employee of any place we have stayed would do that, but others out there surelyknow the same tricks for getting in to a locked room safe.

I have seen other people victimized including one woman in Rome who's pack safe bag did nothing except cause her to be dragged down the sidewalk for almost a block by a thief on a motor cycle who ended up with the bag after it finally slipped off over her head. She was not a pretty sight after this, but survived with minimal injuries. She lost everything of value because it was in that one bag.

Like many other things that might happen but have not happened to me yet, I have never had anything taken from me (although I have found other people's hands in my empty pockets in the subway of Paris and London), but I am prepared so that when it eventually does, the loss will be minimal and not cause my travel to grind to a stop.

Posted by
5817 posts

Moneybelts aren't a "scam" but they aren't a necessity either.
Many more people travelling in Europe don't wear one than do, and no locals do. :-)
There is no law that you need to wear one and despite the regular chat on here most of Europe is not a hotbed of thieves. Some areas have problems I would be careful in busy tourist areas of Paris, but then again I might just think that because I have been slowly indoctrinated on this site!

Genuine question,if you aren't carrying any valuables when you are out what will you be putting in your moneybelt? Regardless of my opinion, I doesn't sound like you actually need one?

Obviously you need to be aware and apply commonsense. Use your cross body bag Don't store anything in the outside pockets, keep them in inner zip pockets. If you husband has a wallet don't let him carry it in his back pocket. To be honest he's better not carrying it in any pocket if it is something you are going to worry about If he doesnt want to carry it in a bag can you carry it for him? ( My inner feminist died a little there!).

There is no right or wrong answer to this one just opinion. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

Posted by
3322 posts

I'm sure that I could just as easily be robbed walking to work in the morning where I live now as in any city of the world. The reason I don't want that happen somewhere outside the US is because if they do get my passport, I am stranded until I can get another. At home, losing my wallet and my license is only a minor inconvenience and won't stop my regular daily routine after I call all the credit card issuers about the loss and find time when it is convenient to get my license replaced. Hmmm, maybe I should wear a money belt at home.

Posted by
12104 posts

I wear " the hidden pocket" whether I am traveling solo or with family, walking a lot and taking the subway and buses too. I much prefer the "hidden pocket" than wearing the money belt.

Yes, I would suggest using either hidden pocket or the money belt...you can't lose, or shouldn't anyway. I don't use the hotel room safe. If you carry 60 to 300 Euro in the "hidden pocket" out and about, who is going to know?

Posted by
3263 posts

Regardless of where I travel overseas, I always wear my money belt. In it I have my passport, driver license, credit and debit cards, extra cash and perhaps most important of all, detailed emergency and medical information. I did that when my husband was traveling with me and I do it when I'm traveling solo.

Why? I have some medical issues that could render me unable to communicate. Shoot, any of us could be in that position no matter how healthy we may be. If I have my important identification information buried under my clothes, it is far more likely to stay with me than my cross-body purse in an emergency.

After trying almost every style of money belt on the market, I finally decided on this Eazymate. It is very secure and very comfortable. Obviously you wear it under your clothes, not over them. If you click on the size guide in the pictures, you'll see that is unisex. Since I bought mine, many more manufacturers have put similar items on the market.

Posted by
2432 posts

My husband does not wear a moneybelt, and he is well traveled. In fact, I don't know anyone personally (but me solo) who wears one. I also don't know anyone who's been pickpocketed using any sense (one story). He did not like it the one trip he tried it...and I don't blame him. The only one I like is the leg wallet, which I only wear when traveling solo and changing locations. There are many ways to keep your back up money secure. As you indicate, your back up valuables will be in your hotel room mostly. That is what I do. So for you, the issue is when changing locations. My husband has a travel shirt with a deep zippered chest pocket under a regular pocket flap. He also has a pair of chinos with a zipped pocket inside his front pocket. He keeps CC in his shirt and his wallet in the zipped inside front pocket. He has a scottevest... which he uses at least in transit because it can go through security in the bins, etc. as you can't wear the moneybelt anyway. The key is he has a system, he sticks to the trip's system so he doesn't get distracted or flustered, and has his backup separated from his daily money and his one daily CC.

Most of the people who are pickpocketed according to this forum's descriptions, don't have the items secure. Men with wallets in their back pockets (I believe this was even RS...with all his credit cards.) This is never a good idea. Women with wallets in purses, unsecured. Security doesn't work if you don't zip, latch or whatever. When you do, there's no need to be paranoid. If he doesn't like a moneybelt just have him develop another system. He's more apt to lose his things than have them stolen. IMO. Also, where you are traveling together, your items will be separated anyway so... while a hassle, you will finish your trip and get home again. Have a great time and relax!

Posted by
3321 posts

So far as leaving passports, extra credit cards, extra cash, and such in hotel safes is concerned, I simply don't. But to each his own -- I don't have a problem with those who do. I simply prefer to have those things on my person in a money belt. While highly unlikely, one could be prevented from returning to one's hotel by terrorism, natural disaster, or medical emergency. As someone on the forum observed a while back, with a passport and credit cards one could, if one had to, abandon everything at the hotel and still carry on. And as someone mentioned above, wearing a money belt and carrying a purse are not mutually exclusive.

Since you asked for recommendations, let me throw out some other things to consider.

Before you get to the airport (probably when you leave home or your hotel) place the money belt in a LOCKED compartment of your carry on. At security let it go down the conveyer belt as usual. Then, after you clear the TSA security area, find the nearest rest room and put it back on. That way if your carry on has to be gate checked (and it sometimes happens regardless of size) you still have your money belt on you. Easy-peasy peace of mind. Lord forbid your carry on is gate checked and then lost with the money belt inside.

While going to and through the airport, have everything in the belt except day money, one credit card, maybe (or maybe not) one ATM card, and travel documents you will need in route such as your boarding pass & passport. Carry those in a secure zippered shirt / blouse pocket if you have one. If not, use your purse / "man bag" / personal bag. When going through the TSA check point you can put those things, plus cell phone, watch, and misc. in a zip lock baggie in your purse / "man bag" / personal bag. Remember, your money belt will be TEMPORARILY in your carry on so your goodies will be in two different places.

While in Europe, I carry the passport and travel documents (such as train / plane tickets for later use) in the money belt also, and only carry day money and one credit card in an easy to access but a secure zippered shirt / blouse pocket. But you could use a purse or "man bag".

The way to "hide" a money belt WHEN WEARING IT WHILE OUT AND ABOUT in Europe is this: (1) Put everything that goes in the money belt in a double zip lock freezer bag to protect against moisture from perspiration. (2) Wear it on the small of the back. (3) Tuck the bottom half or two thirds into the top of the undies. No one can get to it without your knowledge. If you need to retrieve something from it (highly unlikely) step into a rest room and do so.

There are many different opinions about this subject and everyone should do whatever makes them comfortable. No right or wrong answers, just food for thought.

Posted by
954 posts

Keep in mind that money belts can cause problems when going through airport security.

Posted by
401 posts

Skimming the responses to your question, it seems to me that it comes down to a personal sense of risk tolerance.

In other words, it's up to you and your husband to decide, based on your own sense of how much risk you can tolerate, whether you will choose to take preventative measures such as wearing a money belt.

Some have trouble accepting risk, and so take measures to reduce the chance that even a low-probability event might occur to them.

Others are willing to accept risk, and make choices that to some may seem reckless, but in actuality bear little chance of causing any harm.

Personally, I've never worn a money belt and I can't imagine the circumstances that would cause me to change that pattern of behavior. Certainly, anyone can become a victim of a pickpocket. But just as certainly, one can learn behaviors that substantially reduce the potential for becoming such a victim.

And I've worn seat belts since the late 1960s when my dad bolted a set of aftermarket belts onto the floor of our '65 Buick.

Posted by
3537 posts

My spouse was pick pocked on our last trip,to Rome. So I asked him your ? He said absolutely.

Posted by
19 posts

I will use a moneybelt sometimes for our passports and "extra" credit cards. But, by far, the best thing for daily use for a guy is a PacSafe billfold with a chain that goes around your belt. I have had it for 10+ years and it works great. I also wear travel pants that have zippered pockets inside of the normal pockets and I keep my phone there. I have found this to be the safest way to travel. If I am actually mugged (vs. pickpocketed) I will be out of luck but that still seems to be unlikely.

Posted by
457 posts

Let's be honest: money belts are a pain. However, I have always used one and will continue to do so.

I don't think your flights are the riskiest times. The riskiest times are when you arrive in a city, walking around in a city, taking the train, etc. I have a money belt and also keep some items in my cross body bag. Never keep everything all in the same place.

We also rent apartments so I am less worried about leaving passports behind in the room, unless I think I need it when I am out.

For me, I would rather be safe than sorry.

One time I was traveling on business in Amsterdam, got relaxed, put my purse on the ground by my feet at a restaurant. Next thing, my little wallet with credit cards was gone. But my passport was elsewhere. I was being stupid, and of course I regret it. Such a hassle to have to cancel credit cards, etc.

Posted by
13972 posts

Pickpockets will find it pretty easy to take things from a camera bag, whether it's in front or behind you. Same with a woman's bag. The only real deterrent is a lock. You don't realize how often you'll be distracted just looking at a new sight or framing a photo.

Posted by
3 posts

We always use money belts when traveling. I recommend getting two and you and your husband trade off wearing them. Since they are under your clothes they can get a little smelly after a few days, so you need to rinse them out. They can also be a little uncomfortable if you have a lot in them, so getting a break from wearing one is nice. Also, we put everything inside a small Ziploc bag inside the money belt to protect the contents from sweat. And we put a handkerchief between the Ziploc bag and the back of the money belt so the Ziploc bag doesn't stick to your skin.

Posted by
45 posts

Quick update:

Just spent a long weekend in a BnB in Vermont. Hosts lived for 3 years near Versaille. We talked to them about our trip and the first sentence out of their mouth was pickpocketing.

Hubby just bought a money belt and is trying it out this weekend.

Thanks All

Posted by
179 posts

Every time you stop moving is a chance for a pickpocket. Waiting for a crosswalk, in a line at a museum. These are good places for thieves, not just at transit hubs.

I walk nearly everywhere in Europe. I still wear my money belt, and I feel confident when I feel my belongings right where I left them.

If he doesn’t want to wear a money belt, try a hidden pocket instead. I find it more comfortable.

Posted by
45 posts

We just returned and thought I would updated everyone,

I used a Baggalini cross body bag. I had a small fossil wallet which clipped to the inside bag and I could clip through the link so the wallet was tough to unzip

DH used his camera bag which locks the zipper with a latch.

We kept passports and extra credit cards and cash in hotel safe. We carried day money and each carried one different card.

In the museums when it got crowded, we kept our hands on our bags ( they were to the front ).

The only time I thought someone was trying to pickpocket us was at Trocodero Metro stop. It was very busy and a group of girls were making a big commotion at the ticket machine. They then started to follow us down the stairs, I stopped to let them pass and they circled back behind my husband. I put my back to the wall and told them to move on.

Posted by
426 posts

I went to various towns in Greece this month. I went to the Jewish museum (it occupied me for about 1-1/2 hours or less). I am reminded that Jewish sites in Europe always seem to have tight security. They always ask for identification. I did not leave my passport, money, credit cards, or anything super valuable, in any of my hotels. I went around with both a chain wallet, in a front pants pocket, and a money belt - the kind that looks like a fanny pack but is much thinner, straped around my torso, above my waist. I used the money belt to carry my passport. The passport does not fit in my wallet and this feels like a good way to reduce my chances of loosing it. But I don’t have to go to the bathroom to access my moneybelt. I just unzip it and take my passport (or anything else in it) out when necessary. Nobody seemed to mind this.

Posted by
10846 posts

Mike,

First, on the subject. There will be a segment of thieves you will never detect; but there is a segment that is detectable; or at least can be identified as having a higher risk of being dishonest. Just because you can know it all, doesnt make one smart to avoid the obvious.

Then to your comment on security in Jewish areas. Before i travel someplace new I like to use Google Street View to preview routes and land marks. Some years back I was checking out synagogues in Paris on street view. I noticed something interesting, that in 3 of the half dozen or so synagogues i pulled up there were armed guards in the photos. Does speak volumes.

The Budapest Dohany Synagogue now has a metal detector and controlled access; gone are the days of pretty much just walking in. Very sad. But for those worrying, there hasn't been any antisemitic violence in Budapest, that i am aware of - and i do look, for very nearly a decade and even that was a one-off situation. Not to say there isn't any discrimination, but that's rampant across Europe. Putin's motorcycle gang showed up a few years ago and the police quickly redirected them, and during the Jewish Cultural festival you will see guards on about every third street corner. But that's about the worst of it.

Some one in a post recently talked about the benefits of hiring a Jewish guide when visiting the Jewish neighborhoods. True in any city and incredibly insightful.