For fashionable people who don't use money belts...

I have never used a money belt, but unfortunately, I'm not fashionable either. I just wanted to point out something I saw that would be great for women (and men) and hopefully negate the need for a sweaty money belt or neck pouch. Maybe people already know about these, but I just recently heard about infinity scarves for sale that have hidden zippers with hidden pockets big enough for passport/money. Obviously, you aren't going to access your hidden pocket in plain sight, but still a mite easier then accessing belts/pouches. If you already wear scarves when travelling, more the better. Lots of people wear scarves - locals and tourists, and short of someone wrenching it from around your neck (which they probably wouldn't unless they saw you access the hidden pocket - or just really liked the scarf), sounds fairly safe. Travel stores may sell them, but I've seen some on etsy.com. If I wasn't travelling in weather that I think would be too hot for a scarf - Italy in early Sept - I'd think about getting one (and being fashionable at the same time!). Just a heads up!

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1732 posts

Nicole, that would have to be a big scarf to hold all your treasures! GI Joe in one hidden pocket, Hallmark ornament in another...

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3252 posts

I saw those at the gift mart in Atlanta a few years ago and thought it might work ok for winter travel, but they are a bit bulky and hot and then how can you be fashionable unless you have a number of them???You would be wearing the same scarf everyday:)) I also saw this fleece thing they were advertising for the plane...it looked like a bathrobe (sort of) with a pouch in the front for your ipad/computer or whatever... then, it was open in the back like a hospital gown and had a hood on the front that you could pull over your face if you wanted to sleep! A friend and I (who both travel a lot) could only envision everyone walking around the airport in these robes before they boarded the plane... we wondered if they would become a status symbol of the travelers who were 'in the know':))) Not sure how they sold and I have not seen anyone wearing one yet, so maybe it will take a while to catch on:) Think I'll wait and see if it becomes a trend rather than be a fashion leader on this one.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1248 posts

No no Karen - those aren't MY treasures! (well, OK, the Hallmark ornaments are, but NOT the GI Joes!). They are earning me money to buy treasures on my travels! ;)

Well, I guess you could splurge and buy a few - one in a nice pattern and a nice neutral - but yeah - if you are travelling anytime between mid-June and early Oct, I would think they'd be too hot in a lot of places. But we did have some cool days in late Sept in London and North France. They weren't all knit tho - and they aren't all wrapped around your neck (well, the ones I saw just kinda went around loosely once). I guess you could get a light-ish weight one. I still think of the day during the 3rd week of Sept when we were in Florence and I was sweating wearing a skirt and a tank top - and there went this lovely young lady with one of those dang scarves wrapped around her neck 3 times - I don't know how she could stand it in that heat, but she looked lovely! Some people are more tolerant of the heat than I.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8730 posts

If a thin cotton moneybelt is too hot and sweaty to wear.. why would a scarf be any cooler. I don't find money belts that hot or nasty.. mind you I only wear them when I have to .. in transit. I use hotel safes.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1248 posts

I've never used a money belt - I was just going by what other people have complained about - that their money and things got damp, or sweaty. And I do see some people wear light cotton/linen/silk scarves year round...I guess they don't find them uncomfortable in the heat.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12714 posts

There is a simple solutions to money belt contents getting damp or sweaty. Use some plastic bags - sandwich bags or the small half bags work great. Not sure how fashionable and money belts are linked. I think some people go out of their way to justify not using a money belt. It is not a requirement. Use what you like but recognize that any security system has some risk. Just recognize what that risk is and how much risk you are prepared to accept. I personally think that a properly worn money belt is nearly risk free and has worked over many, many trips for both of us. But be free to adopt any system that works for you.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1248 posts

I'm not saying people who use money belts aren't fashionable, this was more aimed at the people who don't want to use a money belt for whatever reason but who may take scarves on their travels - I see people recommend taking scarves to use as cover ups for shoulders in churches, keeping arms warm during cool evenings when your jacket is too far away to go back and get from the hotel, looking awesome, whatever else people use them for (protecting their necks from vampires??! :) ).

I, personally...my personal opinion, just think of most people who use scarves as 'fashionable' - since I am the definition of unfashionable and can never wear a scarf without feeling like a giant thumb sticking out. (well, my definition of unfashionable - jeans and tshirts...and no, I'm NOT saying people who only wear jeans and tshirts are unfashionable - I have even been know to wear skirts, dress pants, fancy tank tops and sandals when travelling, as well as nice dark wash jeans and tshirts with a nice design). But that's just me. I just think it's a really cool idea and thought I'd share it. I'm not down on money belts - I think they are awesome for those who want to use them. :)

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12971 posts

I've used a neck pouch for 13 years (10 trips, about 11 weeks). I never found it to be sweaty, although I do keep my passport in a ziploc bag.

For my first trip, in 2000, I bought a money belt. After trying it, I thought is was uncomfortable and sweaty, so I also bought a neck pouch. I started my trip using the money belt. The neck pouch was in my carryon. By the time I got to Europe, I was using the neck pouch, and the money belt has stayed home ever since.

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
2099 posts

In getting ready for my first trip to Europe I did way too much research as I usually do with such things. I remember reading about using money belts in RS literature so thought I had better use one. I have used either a money belt or neck pouch for ll of the past 12 years visiting Europe. I keep important possessions in there and put most things in those zip lock bags to keep out the moisture is any exists. I have visited Spain, Portugal, Rome and Turkey in the spring or fall and have never felt that the pouches were uncomfortably warm. I go to Greece for a RS tour beginning May 26 so will have to see how those pouches work in that climate. I have never read any post here of someone loosing anything out of their money belts/pouches but I have read about folks loosing stuff from other places. aloha

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12714 posts

Sorry about your loss, Dick. I guess you need to check the surrounding area both before and after. This just reinforces by idea that any system that is easier for you to access then it becomes easier for someone else. Something that is loosely attached might be easier to become unattached such as scarves, day bags, etc.

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For Charles, there was a posting here within the past year when someone did lose money from a money belt. However, in my opinion, he was using it as a hidden billfold and not properly hidden away. It was outside his shirt behind his belt buckle so that he could easily access it by pulling it up slightly and unzipping the top. (How often have we seen that.) He reported he was in a tight ticket line, had opened the money belt to take out cash when he was distracted to the side and in the next moment the money was gone. Saw nothing, felt nothing.
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While we are prone to speak of pickpocketing in the singular, the reality is that most pickpockets work in teams. Without a good distraction, the pickpocket's job would be considerably harder if not close to impossible.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
8071 posts

My biggest worry would be setting the scarf down and forgetting it. I never have that trouble with my moneybelt.

Posted by ckpatchett
Florida
28 posts

I've seen these in catalogues and online but wondered about the outline of a passport or credit card or the bulk of money. Can't believe it would really be so secret.

Posted by Donna
Cleveland, OH
608 posts

I wear scarves on occasion but I guess I'm not that fashionable. Try wearing a moneybelt in the back (doesn't add extra volume to the "gut"). Put the passport in a baggie to keep it dry.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10508 posts

If it's cool enough to wear a scarf, why not just put your wallet (or whatever else you don't want stolen) in a sealable internal coat or jacket pocket? Seems more convenient and less chance of losing it to me.

Posted by Roy
East Alabama
1007 posts

Note to self: Put hidden pocket on the buckle side, not the end, of belt. Make sure hidden pocket is inside pants, not out.
Scarves are out for me, and I am not into do-rags.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
5645 posts

Tom's suggestion of putting things in an internal jacket pocket is good. Unfortunately, most women's jackets/coats don't have internal pockets.

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3180 posts

Jacket pockets are easy to pick. Some might be tougher, like those with zippers. But for the most part it is pick-pocketing 101 for a pro.

Posted by Diane
Westford, MA
103 posts

I do it the same way as Donna. Jacket pockets are handy but then you have to remember you put things there. If you take your jacket off in a public area it's exposed to vulnerabilty.

Donna, I think we're fashionable because we both wear neck scarves.
Smile for the camera!

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10508 posts

"Jacket pockets are easy to pick. Some might be tougher, like those with zippers. But for the most part it is pick-pocketing 101 for a pro." How, exactly, is this alleged pick-pocket going to access your inner pocket if the jacket is buttoned or zippered? Better yet, why would said pick-pocket even try?

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3180 posts

^^^ The same way they slip a wallet out of your front or back pocket. Or zippered purse. They have a partner distract you, bump you some so you feel various contact on your body, then slip their little fingers in and woosh... You never know it happened till later.

I honestly think most people think their wallet is safe because they can't imagine how someone can slip it out without their noticing. But for a pro working in a team, it's easy - they do it all the time. And the secret is usually not in the fingers, but in the distraction so you don't notice or feel it.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10508 posts

So.... this team manages to somehow unfasten my coat, slip their hands inside, locate exactly where my wallet is hidden, unbutton that inner pocket, and still manage to pick my wallet, all in one fell swoop without me noticing? Hell, if they're that good, I can't see how a money belt is going to save me either. I'd better make sure I lock the doors and never leave the house. But wait, if they're that professional, they can get me there too! Help, we're all doomed!

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3180 posts

So.... this team manages to somehow unfasten my coat, slip their hands inside, locate exactly where my wallet is hidden, unbutton that inner pocket, and still manage to pick my wallet, all in one fell swoop without me noticing?

If your coat or jacket is loosely zipped, they saw you put your wallet away, and it doesn't have a pocket zipper or button (or you don't bother to use it), then yes, that is exactly how they do it. Now if your coat is fully zipped or buttoned and has a zipped pocket, then it would be much harder (if not impossible). But then again I already said as much. Not everyone wears their jacket zipped up tight. Not everyone has a secured inner pocket. The warning I gave was not to assume that just because you put a wallet in a jacket pocket, it is safe. There is also no reason to get sarcastically rude.

Posted by Kent
Pacific Northwest
9109 posts

For those who don't like a money belt digging into your tummy, turn it around 180 degrees so that it's in the small of your back, you won't know it's there.

Posted by joefackler
8 posts

I just purchased a couple of shirts at Costco, lightweight ,quick dry, similar to Ex Officios. About twenty bucks. They have a very deep pocket on the right chest with a zipper. Passport and wallet will easily fit in the pocket and as the pocket is very deep the pickpocket would have to stand on a step stool to get his hand in. I will carry a little walking around money in my other shirt pocket (buttoned) Travel Smith has some stuff to check out too (although spendy) As a final precaution I may safety pin the zipper tab in the closed position with a small safety pin. My camera strap is a cross chest strap which will go over the opening in the passport pocket as additional security.
As our boy Rick says " Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention." I am not worrying much about fashion although the shirts look pretty good compared to the clothing I have seen tourists wear. In the company of about 25 of your fellow tour members you are obviously a tourist.

Posted by Diana
The World!
17 posts

Just thought I'd share our "tried and true travel tip" to safeguard our credit/debit cards and large amounts of cash:

I've sewn a small pouch, about the size of our passports, hemming the one open end and sewing Velco as a closure. I've used a thin polyester fabric, such as lining material found in most fabric stores. There is a short loop of narrow ribbon sewn to the top, and I've attached a very tiny "carbiner" (bought at REI) to this loop. This carbiner is then attached to another short loop of ribbon that I've sewn onto the waistband of each pair of pants that we are taking. We've positioned ours about half way between the front zipper and side seam of the slacks or jeans. Use a ribbon that doesn't fray easily, such as a narrow 1/8" grosgrain. When we wear a different pair of slacks or skirt it's quick and easy to switch. This is a simple and quick beginners' s sewing project.

My husband argued, rolled his eyes and balked at wearing it--but only for the first day of that initial trip! This simple pouch has let us relax and enjoy our travels--we don't even give a thought to pickpockets! We don't carry anything of great value in our day bags, only a very small amount of "pin money". We don't carry our passports once we have arrived at our destination, those stay in our room safe or apartment. When we need to access our cards, we either do it VERY discreetly, or pop into a restroom.

We've both found these pouches to be very comfortable. In fact, we don't feel them at all. They certainly aren't obvious, unlike the neck pouches or waist type pouches we've tried. They have served us well in cities all over the world--and ensured worry free travel in notorious "pickpocket" cities such as Barcelona, Rome and Paris. I've made several of these pouches to share with traveling friends and family members--they all swear by them!
PS: I'm not especially "fashionable" either, but my newest pouch is made from leopard print polyester lining fabric ;}

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11687 posts

I almost went to Detroit once but didn't go. I did go to Windsor. Is that OK?

My brother used to go to Detroit but he never had any problems. He used to be driven by a driver in a big car. (really)

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
11687 posts

Oh yes, I went to university with a guy who said he used to go to school with one of the Supremes. He got instand cred. We set a booby trap outside his room once.