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Money belt plus small purse?

Hi,
I admit that I have been reading about money belts for awhile on here but
would like a little help to resolve a few questions.
My daughter and I will be leaving in about a month to go to Madrid, Paris,
Amsterdam, Barcelona...places that I know are famous for pickpockets.

I am willing to buy the money belts...So you carry your Original OR Copies of your passport in the money belt?
What about leaving the RailEurope and airline tickets locked up in the room in our luggage or in a safe?
The Paris hotel does not have a safe but they have security screening at every entrance and long, faithful employees.
They said to lock up anything we felt was necessary in our luggage there.

So would be lock up extra money, RailEurope, airline tickets, and the original passports in the luggage?
And wear money belts with a copy of our passport, metro tickets and some money?

Then is it safe to wear a purse to keep our cell phone and some money for the day in?
I like to use a credit card....should I keep in my purse? My purse does NOT have metal strips to prevent the
straps from being slashed. Do I need that too?
If I put it in the money belt, how do I retrieve it without looking suspicious?

Thanks. Yes, you can tell that I am not a seasoned traveler, but I am trying to educate myself before we go.

Posted by
8009 posts

You will get a variety of answers, some conflicting!

Your money belt is deep storage. You never access it in public so if I think I will need my credit card during the day I put it in my purse. I use the same small zipper wallet at home inside my purse. I also have another small zipper case that I put my day's money in. I put both of those small cases inside the internal zipper pocket in my purse so there are 2 zippers to go thru to get to the wallets.

I put ALL my cash in my money belt but I am not going to access that during the day. If I need more money, I go to a bathroom to retrieve it and put it in my purse.

I put my original passport in my money belt. Many will tell you they carry color copies, but I am not comfortable with that. This sounds very survivalist but I want my ID with me in case there is a security problem and I need to get on a train or plane and go.

I just use a LeSportsac purse and it has a regular strap. I'm not a fan of the pac-safe/travelon purses. I also use a small cross body bag (Travex wallet) from Eddie Bauer if I want to go with a very small purse.

Posted by
672 posts

Hi Phyllis,
Here's what I do when traveling in Europe (usually for 5 - 6 weeks at a time ). I wear a money belt and I keep my passport, debit cards, all but one credit card and any extra cash in it. I use credit cards quite a bit while traveling, so one stays inside my fairly-secure purse, which I wear cross body. I keep a small amount of cash in my purse. I never access my money belt in public. We don't get airline boarding passes until we check in for the flight, so there's nothing to carry around and keep secure. Metro tickets are in my purse. Train tickets I keep in my carry on for the flight over and, then, in my suitcase. I especially like the ones I can retrieve at a station once I'm there - less to keep track of. My cell phone has also become my camera, so it's in my purse or in my hand. As for passport copies, I keep a copy in my photos app on my phone. I don't carry a hard copy.

Posted by
6243 posts

Metro tickets, daily cash, and one debit/credit card go in my purse inside a couple of zippers/clasps or occasionally in a deep front pocket if I'm not carrying a purse that day (for instance if I'm carrying a day pack to have more stuff with me - I never put money in anything on my back). The only thing I carry in my money belt is cash (a few large bills just in case), plane/train tickets I won't use that day except in an emergency, add'l credit/debit cards I'm not likely to use that day, and my passport (if I'm traveling town to town, otherwise I leave it in hotel safe or locked in suitcase).

I carry a normal sized cross body purse that I would carry at home. I agree with other poster that pacsafe/travelon bags with steel in straps and locks etc are just overkill that calls attention to the fact that you have something of value in there. And they usually add add'l weight that I don't need to be carrying around.

Posted by
2445 posts

Opinions on this vary, but I think in general
money belts are not accessed during the day, unless emergency!
That is, keep what you need for the day (a small bit of cash, one credit card if you use it for daily purchases) in a purse or other safe, accessible place. Along with your phone, sunglasses, whatever. Just carry the purse crossbody and be aware of it. Your metro ticket will need to be in the purse - you can't be reaching into the money belt to get on and off the metro!
So, yes, you will need a purse or day bag. Don't worry about the metal straps - that's a gimmick, in my opinion. Just find a purse that zips closed (one that just magnet-snaps is easier to reach into) and is carried crossbody so you can keep it in front of you.

Use the money belt to keep extra cash, credit cards, anything you want safe and don't expect to need during the day. The money belt is UNDER your clothes so you can't easily be digging into it every time you want to buy a bottle of water. If you go out for a nicer meal, yeah, you can go in the rest room and get your credit card. But not for a random purchase at a souvenier stand or whatnot.

Here is what I do - I have a money belt but only use it in transit. That is, if I am on the train going from Paris to London or whatever, moving hotels. Otherwise, no money belt. I'm a rebel ;) During the day I leave everything but what I need that day in the in-room hotel safe (your hotel sounds good, don't worry about lack of safe). I carry a purse with what I need for the day (in my case - personal items like lip gloss, cash, one credit card, metro ticket, kindle with guidebook, phone, drivers license (for ID), passport copy, and camera) . Yes, I leave my passport in the hotel in Europe, if I am staying in town. People debate this one round and round, but that's what works for me.

I actually safety pin my wallet to the inside of my purse (the wallet has a wrist strap so I attach a pin to the end, pin it to the lining of the purse and it's like the wallet is on a leash).

As for rail passes - keep them wherever you feel safest. I don't use them, but I'd treat it like my passport.
Airline tickets - I have never had these. Seriously - check in on-line, print your e-ticket from the hotel the night before the flight or just go to the airport with your info to check in (sometimes your hotel won't have internet or a printer, no biggie, the airline desk will print your ticket). I actually was not aware that paper tickets were still issued.

Posted by
11450 posts

Everyone has their comfort level.
I am from a small city on an island off the west coast of Canada.. so not a big city girl, however I am an experienced traveller.. .

I never bother keeping rail or plane tickets safe or locked up.. no one wants them. That's the key.. no one wants them at all.. lol and you can reprint them if you lose them .. Obviously its easiest and best not to lose them. .but I never even pass a thought about anyone stealing them.. they are useless to them.. completely useless.
So.. those are off the table ( worry wise).

I bring a debit card and 1-2 credit cards when travelling.
I personally only use the credit card for hotels, train tickets and expensive ( rare) meals.
I use cash for everything else. People vary on that..

During normal sightseeing day I bring my cash with me.. leaving cards/passport etc back in my room.. in a safe. without a safe I would inquire if they have a safe behind the front desk, I have stayed in hotels with such.. I leave my passport, extra cash, cards etc there too.. ( in safe).

If hotel had no safe then wear your money belt. Leave tickets in room though.. just wear passport and cards and excess cash( excess from daily spend)

On a day I am taking a daytrip out of city.. I do bring my passport. .in my purse.

My purse is not one of those expensive heavy safety purses.. 30 years or more of travel and I have never felt the need to carry a "safe".. lol
I do however use a GOOD purse.. its lightweight.. and has excellent closures.. a zippered inner pocket ( where passport and credit cards go) I don't bring a wallet, just a small change purse with like maybe 80-100 euros in it.. extra money would go in the inner zippered compartment. My purse zips closed.. AND has a full flap that close over entire top and CLICKS shut( not a flimsy snap etc). I wear my purse cross body ( actually I do this at home too.. its comfier and gives me free hands )

No one should carry all their money in a moneybelt. That's DEEP STORAGE.. no one will see you go in it because you never go in it in public.. you carry DAILY spending money in your purse .. like a local would.. do you think they go out to buy bread wearing a moneybelt? Pickpockets target locals too.. anyone who looks EASY or careless. Tourists have a tendency to look more vulnerable as we are often distracted. that's all.. trust me.. locals get ripped off too ( its just easier for them if they do as they can just go their local bank and get new cards and for us its a big screw up )

So:

Carry a copy of passport for everyday.. but take original if there is no safe at hotel.. and if leaving the city.

Metal straps not needed.. common sense.. paying attention.. and a well closing purse is ..

Tickets are just paper.

Ps split your assets .. I have travelled with my daughter .. and also alone or with hubby.. when I am with another adult one carries one credit card.. the other adult carries the other one.. that way you are never completely screwed if pickpocketed.

Finally watch your cell phone. It is a favored steal item. Keep it out of sight most of the time.. never ever lay it down on your table at a café or restaurant like you might at home. Best not to carry it openly in your hand.. keep it away unless taking a photo or actually using. it..

Posted by
2353 posts

OK - I am the exception to the rule. I walk around with my phone in my hand and use it for maps, google, camera, whatever. When I am not looking at it it is in my purse or my husbands inside jacket pocket or my "girl pocket".

I carry a big, thick leather, Nine West purse with thick reinforced straps. The straps are the perfect length to carry on the shoulder but not hang down so low as to allow easy entry in to the bag. I carry lots of things in it - passports, money, credit cards, phone, water bottles, net book, kindle... For me this works, then I do not have to remember to clean out a safe before moving on.

It is carried on the shoulder that is between my husband & me - not on the exposed side. If I set it down it is between my legs or a strap is put through the arm of a chair.

We used a money belt our first trip over - never again.

We have successfully caught 3 pick pockets in the act - 2 in Rome, 1 in Cannes.

I have always felt comfortable this way no matter where I am. We practice other techniques to not be a target - walk with purpose, know where we are going, if we stop along the side walk we stand with our backs against the building, I am always aware of where my purse is.

I noticed the local women all carried purses so why not me?

Posted by
11450 posts

Christie obviously if one is using their phone it is in their hand..

I agree..local women do carry purses.. and I have always carried one .. so why would I do differently.
However the contents of a local womans purse are a bit different then mine.. I doubt they carry their passports everywhere.. and I am sure they don't carry large sums of cash.. or a credit or ATM card that could not be replaced in a few days by their bank..

What is a girl pocket??

Posted by
396 posts

The concept of using a money belt for deep storage and a wallet/purse for daily money is a great idea in theory, but in reality, it's a bit of a grey area. I want to travel, either by train/plane etc with everything secure, but I've been asked for my passport and credit card on trains. I know I will need my passport at the airport, so in these cases, I have them readily available, most of the time upon leaving the hotel. That's a bad thing, because I've been told, pickpockets work the transit system to and from major hubs. Upon heading to tourist attraction I know I will be paying by credit card, I have it ready. Another bad thing 'cause pickpockets work these areas too. I have to withdraw money today at the fist ATM I find, so I have my debit card handy, sometimes for quite some time and then walking around with money and a debit card in my wallet, real bad ! Arriving at a hotel, they require my credit card. It's happened more than once that I've had to drop my pants to retrieve it from my money belt. Poor planning on my part. What if you're spending the day shopping, do you hide your credit card all day, or keep it out all day. And as anyone knows, finding 'that" bathroom to move things between deep storage and daily wallet sometimes isn't that easy. I would estimate that my valuables are out of deep storage about 1/3 of the time. I would prefer more, but it is what it is.

Posted by
20970 posts

Warren, you make it far too complicated. A little anticipation of what you might need that days goes a long ways in solving most of the problems related to access. If I am out and about with no anticipated use of passport, it is the money belt. If I am going to need it that day, then it is in a secure pocket - most likely a secured shirt pocket. And the same for credit or debit card. If I am getting cash that day, then debit card goes in another secure pocket. I am amazed a the length some posters go to discredit money belts.

Posted by
2353 posts

A girl pocket is tucked in your bra.

We almost always travel on a rail pass so the passport is necessary to have convenient frequently - I just got in the habit of carrying it my purse - I always know where it is..

Posted by
646 posts

I wear two money belts. The first is the kind RS recommends. It goes under my pants or skirt and has passport, drivers licence, debit and credit cards I won't use that day out, multi day train/metro tickets, and the rare train ticket that is mailed and cannot be reprinted. In extreme heat, I've left these in a hotel safe or carried them in an internal purse pocket and worn the purse cross body. When moving city to city camera chips go here too.

The second belt looks like a dress belt but has a zipper on the underside. Excess cash goes there. This is useful to carry cash for full week apartment balances. More and more landlords accept PayPal or credit card, so this belt may eventually go the way of all things.

What I need while out may go any number of places: in a small day pack in an internal pocket, a zippered or buttoned pants pocket, in a zippered or internal purse pocket. The variable is what I'm wearing. Cash for the day, museum passes, apartment keys, credit or debit cards I plan to use while out go here. Ditto phone and camera.

I've never been pickpocketed. But four years ago there were three attempts on my husband in Rome and one in Florence. They would have been the lucky new owners of his pocket change and chapstick. Everything else was in his money belt.

Frankly, the only reason I take extra precautions in Europe is that the consequences of losing passport or credit/debit cards abroad are higher than at home. I don't feel anymore vulnerable than I do at home.

Passport copies and the numbets to call to cancel credit cards go in my luggage (a small backpack ) when we change cities and live in the hotel or apartment when we are touristing.

Posted by
11613 posts

I wear a crossbody messenger bag (zippere) with my neck pouch pinned inside that, so it can't simply be lifted out. Passport, ATM card and withdrawn money, and credit cards are in it.

I have a small leather change purse with incidental cash (usually less than €20, sometimes €50) that I keep n my (gasp) pocket.

Posted by
3039 posts

I think petty crime seems to obsess many people traveling to Europe. Of course it's sensible to take basic precautions to avoid becoming a victim, but most of the millions who travel each year don't suffer any attacks. Pickpockets mostly want cash. It seems prudent to avoid carrying huge amounts as you walk around big cities.
The days when a passport was of value to anyone but the rightful owner are long gone. They used to have photos that could be peeled off and someone else's affixed. Not anymore. However, it's very inconvenient to lose one, so we carry copies and leave the originals in our room.

Airline tickets? Aren't they all electronic now? If not, someone would need your passport and have to look like you to use them. My experience is that the security agents look at id's quite closely in airports. Anyway, why carry the tickets any time other than when you're going to the airport?

I've heard of purses being slashed, but I suspect that's pretty rare. What you do need to think about is not leaving a purse slung over the back of a chair, even when you're sitting there; and not setting it on the floor in a restaurant, even when you're sitting there.
Since you're traveling with another person, you can have different credit and atm cards. In the event one gets hers stolen, the other can get cash or pay by cc for the other.
Be careful, but get a grip.

Posted by
3421 posts

Phillis, Sent you a PM with some suggestions.

Posted by
2353 posts

Why PM? Is it not advice from which others could benefit?

Posted by
1573 posts

Hi Phyllis, I put my passport, credit and debit cards, driver's license, cash, and a slip of paper with emergency info for trip insurance in my money belt. I carry cash that I'm planning to use for the day, maybe a credit card, metro tickets, and museum pass in a small, cross-body purse. I leave a copy of my airline ticket number and any train tickets in my luggage at the hotel.

I'm usually changing hotels every few days so I never use hotel safes. Several times tour members/traveling partners have left stuff behind and we had to go back to retrieve it...

In 2013, I was almost pickpocketed in Paris on the Eiffel Tower elevator. I had my money belt on, otherwise, I'm sure they would have taken my stuff.

I don't get crazy about security, but I try to travel smart and to be aware of my surroundings.

I hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
741 posts

I put passports in my hubby's passport belt loop holder he got here from Rick Steves. LOVE IT. Never have to worry about it as unless they rip off all my hubby's clothes, we are safe. LOL

I have a money belt with extra cash, license and debit / credit cards. I am a cash traveler so it is rare I need Credit cards during the day if ever.

I then have a crossbody bag that I carry with a small amount of spending cash, memory cards, phone, mints, extra batteries, lipstick, emergency rain poncho, map and change. It is a pacsafe purse but not a big one. I love that the locking zippers make me feel safe. I would hate to lose memory cards more than my money.

I also have a very small pouch that connects to my bra straps that I carry more $ and one card. Unless I need it, nobody sees it and it works for us.

My Mom carried the same purse I did with her day money and her money belt for passport, license and credit cards.

We were in France for 26 days and only once did we feel a threat. I stared that woman down and refused to let her walk behind us. She glared at me but I KNEW what she was and she knew I knew what she was. Montmartre can be a little crazy sometimes.

Posted by
1573 posts

Based on current events, I think each adult should carry their own passport. If I was traveling with family, older teens would each have their own money belt and carry their own passport too. While I'm sure you wouldn't leave Europe without your family or friends, you could be separated and might need to provide identification.

Posted by
330 posts

We bought the pac safe 75 neck pouch. It is fantastic. I can fit 4 passports, my cell phone and cash inside it if needed. It has 1 zippered compartment.

It has a fabric coated steel cable for a strap and is adjustable. I wear it around my waist like a fanny pack most times. It doesn't interfere with my back pack that way.

I would much rather have this than a money pouch/belt inside my shirt or my pants. But this can be used under clothes too. I just feel safe enough with it that you would know if someone tries to open it. It has a velcro closure

. It can be lengthened to go over your shoulder or around your neck.

The pouch is lined with a steel mesh.

They cost anywhere from $15-22 depending on deals you might find. Highly recommended

Posted by
74 posts

Has anyone ever traveled to Europe and NOT worn a money belt? I am just hearing of this (new to European travel) and it sounds very uncomfortable. How unsafe is it to wear a cross body purse with your passport, credit card and cash for the day in it?

Posted by
3105 posts

I really enjoy my travelon bag. I like that I can "lock" the zippers and someone has just one extra step to try to get at the contents. I don't think they are ugly or heavy, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It only took one time of seeing another traveler's life made so much easier by one of these bags, before I bought my own!

Posted by
4522 posts

Laura - Many people don't use a waist money belt. Some use another secure system that they prefer, and some just stick their wallet in their pocket or regular purse. The former is a perfectly safe option; the latter is quite risky depending on where you will be traveling. While not to cause too much alarm, pick-pockets are a significant problem in some European cities and it is very easy for a veteran thief to pick your pocket or purse without you knowing.

A cross-body bag or purse that has secure pockets is safe as long as you are not the type to set it down or sling it over a chair. It HAS to stay on you and it HAS to have secure pockets, not just a standard zipper or clasp that most purses have. Some people use neck wallets, ankle wallets or belt loop wallets.

Posted by
74 posts

I had seen a picture of what I thought was a money belt and was actually a fanny pack. LOL.
I came across a money belt yesterday in JCPenny believe it or not. I see that it is not quite what I expected. I personally would feel better with a shoulder bag and have my hubby wear the money belt. Hoping I can convince him of that! He has pointed out that we have been to NYC many many times and have never used a money belt and that my daughters were in Florence for six weeks last year and did not use a money belt. So we shall see...

Posted by
630 posts

I've never needed a money belt in NYC either.

I've never used a money belt in NYC either. I also live in Boston, and I don't use one. However, I do use money belts and/or neck wallets when I am out of the country mainly because I don't want to waste a vacation day trying to figure out how to get money or a credit card to complete my vacation. I also don't need a passport when walking around NYC or Boston; however, I do need a passport to visit Europe. And I don't want to waste a day at the Embassy getting a new passport. My vacation time is more valuable to me than the money - and I want to enjoy my vacation. :)

Posted by
74 posts

Thanks everyone! Well, I picked up a money belt and the one for around the neck under the shirt. I will wear the money belt and try to convince my hubby to wear the other one.

Posted by
12154 posts

On my trips in the 1970s, '80s. and '90s, I never wore any sort of money belt. I've been doing it ie, using the neck pouch and/or hidden pocket since the 2001 and 2003 trips. Mostly I travel solo but when traveling with family, no one carries my Passport or my plastic and I certainly won't carry theirs. You're responsible for your own train ticket (be it printed from home or bought at the train station) and other vital "stuff"

Posted by
72 posts

We traveled to Amsterdam and spent a week there. My husband had a money belt for all our cash, and I used a cross body security purse with the metal straps so they could not be slashed. It also had a padded compartment for the iPad which I used in the Rembrandt show as there was a special guided tour for the show. My clothes do not have pockets which is one way around being pick pocketed. Of course, they can steal your purse so hanging onto it while traveling and never leaving it in a chair next to you is important. In a restaurant I keep it around my neck and in my lap. The purse had a secret compartment where I kept my passport and credit card with a few Euros and it uses a fabric that stops scanning of documents, which is another scam. There were signs everywhere in Amsterdam telling people to watch out for pickpockets. While waiting to go into the Rijksmuseum a well-dressed woman started chatting us up and asked if we were English. She wanted to see our tickets for the Rembrandt show and we showed her the computer printouts. Maybe she was a scam artist who was trying to get us to open a wallet or maybe just a friendly local. The Dutch are very polite but not necessarily extroverted so she was out of character in that regard. After chatting with us for a while she got bored and walked away. I absolutely recommend not using a wallet and using a money belt and/or security purse.