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Reasons locals don't use moneybelts

They aren't carrying multiple credit cards and cash
They aren't carrying their passport
If they happen to lose any of the above, they won't lose a vacation day fixing the problem.

They aren't distracted figuring out where they are going.
They aren't distracted reading maps or signs.
They aren't distracted admiring their surroundings.
They might not be in areas frequented by tourists & pickpockets.

If you aren't a local, you might want to take precautions, because pickpockets can and do spot non-locals. I have not been pick-pocketed on numerous trips to Europe, but I have seen incidents.

Posted by
6030 posts

They aren't quite as paranoid as certain visitors.

That is because they are not any of the other things listed by LIZinPA

Nick-- Do you lock your door when you leave home? Lock your car when you park it some where?--- see you are paranoid too!

Posted by
5817 posts

Well as a "local" I carry multiple credit cards and cash. I carry my passport and other forms of sensitive ID. I carry expensive electronics and a selection of keys that would be hard to replace. The loss of any of these would be a huge pain, in some cases career limiting!

I am constantly distracted and spend most of my working week in areas full of tourists. Actually I am often distracted working out how to fight my way through the crowds of tourists.

In 25 years of living in London I have seen 2 "incidents" of attempted pickpocketing which I immediately reported to station staff. I hope you reported the incidents you saw too?

Pickpockets do not care if you are a local or a tourist.

If you feel better carrying your valuables strapped to your body go for it! It works for you. It doesnt mean it is actually necessary.

Posted by
1063 posts

When I travel I normally use a money belt only when in transit between stops. Then i have my passport, multiple credit and debit cards, and maybe a large amount of cash. During days at stops I do not use a money belt as I only carry one credit card and a minimum amount of cash. I only carry a debit card while on my way to and from an ATM machine.

Posted by
1285 posts

Can someone please explain to me why there is a debate about moneybelts?

Seems to me those who wear them want to prove how much smarter they are they those who don't.

And those who don't wear them want to prove how much smarter they are than those who do.

It's a tie. Give it a rest already!

Posted by
5817 posts

Or you could just not bother reading the posts with Moneybelt in the title if it bothers you that much?

Posted by
7109 posts

Love your post emma. I’ve lived in and visit Europe often since 1960 and do not use a moneybelt. Never been pickpocketed and have never seen an attempt despite years of riding the Paris mêtro, not saying it doesn’t happen, just saying I have never seen it.
Everyone should do what works well for them.

Posted by
2274 posts

My sense is pickpocketing is not as common in England as on the continent. And, even there, there are spots like Barcelona, Athens, where it is a lot more common than perhaps other places. And I agree, there are people who use them and those who don’t and that is the way it is. Those who post about not using them and after multiple trips have never been pickpocketed I say, good for you. But, that experience does not influence me in the least and I would hate to think a novice traveler would take that as solid advice. I will continue to use a moneybelt as will Rick Steve’s after being pickpocketed in Paris.

Posted by
5017 posts

They aren't quite as paranoid as certain visitors.

Fixed that for ya:

They aren't quite as clueless as certain visitors.

Posted by
1451 posts

There's always a discussion about this - all relative and good questions/concerns. Doing as much research as possible to where you are going is key. Bad things may still happen, but better preparation would help.

As a rule, don't carry all your cash and credit cards in one place. If you are able to take more than one card, maybe leave one in your hotel room and a bit of emergency Euro - €100. I understand that if people are on a budget trip, they may not have the "luxury" of having/taking multiple credit and/or debit cards. Some save for years to go on a trip once in a while. Do the best you can. Money belts or similar have proven to be very effective.

Being out of one's natural element can cause some havoc as LIZ in Pa pointed out. "Anyone" can get ripped off if the opportunity presents itself easily with a perp. In the USA, it is more customary to get mugged either forcefully or with a weapon pointed at you.

American travelers are sort of caught off guard about pick pockets because it is done so discreetly - in most cases. Then there are those who are too trusting or really not experienced with big city life and its adventures. Also, one is in "vacation mode." So, thieves scope the prospects and start to hone in.

It would be a PITA to lose all your money, cards and PP abroad. A local (just like we do in the States) can run to their own home bank, Dept. of Motor Vehicles, Consulate, whatever or whomever to get things replaced. A traveler or tourist would need to take a day or more to get things straightened out. And not knowing the language fluently would also be a hindrance. Also, your out-of-the-country bank would need a day or so to send you a new card or whatever. So, if you're moving a lot, as on a tour, that would be a hindrance.

Common sense, street smarts and awareness should still prevail. I'm sure, even at Disney World, people steal people's stuff - distracted by Goofy and Mickey - baby strollers with bags hanging off them. It's not right and thieves need to be dope slapped. But, if you don't take precautions to minimize or stay alert, then your stuff can be up for grabs for perps.

Posted by
1159 posts

not saying it doesn’t happen, just saying I have never seen it.

I’m fairly sure that’s the whole point.

Seeing it means they’d get caught.

Posted by
1451 posts

Can someone please explain to me why there is a debate about moneybelts?
Seems to me those who wear them want to prove how much smarter they are they those who don't.
And those who don't wear them want to prove how much smarter they are than those who do.
It's a tie. Give it a rest already!

I don't see it as a competition. There is no right or wrong answer. Do whatever or wear whatever makes "you" feel comfortable. Some can say, accurately, they have never worn a money belt and/or have never been a victim of pickpockets. That fortune may continue for them. Or perhaps they don't set themselves up to be a target - a whole other discussion.

Posted by
1063 posts

"Also, your out-of-the-country bank would need a day or so to send you a new card or whatever. "

Some banks will not send replacement cards to a foreign country.

Posted by
1451 posts

Some banks will not send replacement cards to a foreign country.

That is true too, Bob.

Posted by
2274 posts

As opposed to a Monet belt? Not nearly as valuable, no.

Posted by
2275 posts

The only issue I see with the money belt discussion is that it can inspire extreme paranoia in some travelers. If one prefers the security of a money belt, great. But there is a certain category of traveler that gets obsessed and sees crime on every corner. That’s just not the case and the excessive worries can hinder their enjoyment. Of course other people feel that their money belt stops them from worrying so they can enjoy themselves. Everyone is different, the issue I have is on the emphasis some people here put on money belts. Not that money belts are a good idea but that they are the ONLY WAY to avoid TOTAL DISASTER!!!!

Posted by
11388 posts

I am not clueless.
I have traveled quite a bit in europe.
I dont wear a money belt.

Situational awareness is more important than a money belt.

I have read posts by tourists who wont use a hotel safe as they are afraid of leaving their passport in it when they leave.. those travelers should wear a money belt.

Posted by
5539 posts

I have received new credit cards overnight via FedEx while in Italy, not stolen.

Posted by
17615 posts

If they happen to lose any of the above, they won't lose a vacation day fixing the problem.

That pretty much describes it. It's probably not much more likely to happen in Europe than at home, but if I were to lose my wallet to a pickpocket at home, it would not be such a big deal. My banks right there; I can easily cancel my cards. I don't need a passport at home, and I have my checkbook at home; I can easily get more money. Not so in Europe. I can probably cancel my cards online, if I have internet access, but it will probably take a phone call to get new card, but it would take time to receive them, and I'd have to find a consulate to get a new passport.

To paraphrase Pascal, it's not the probability of it happening over there, it's the consequences.

Posted by
2400 posts

The only issue I see with the money belt discussion is that it can
inspire extreme paranoia in some travelers. If one prefers the
security of a money belt, great. But there is a certain category of
traveler that gets obsessed and sees crime on every corner. That’s
just not the case and the excessive worries can hinder their
enjoyment. Of course other people feel that their money belt stops
them from worrying so they can enjoy themselves. Everyone is
different, the issue I have is on the emphasis some people here put on
money belts. Not that money belts are a good idea but that they are
the ONLY WAY to avoid TOTAL DISASTER!!!!

So what is your solution? Should we all advocate NOT wearing a moneybelt for any reason, because we don't want to spook the small minority of travellers who might fixate on the possible negatives of a foreign vacation? I think this type of traveller is likely to fixate on something else, if not this. Face it- certain people will fantasize about vacation disasters no matter what. So are we supposed to cater to their unrealistic fantasies? Or simply state the reasons why moneybelts (and/or their equivalents) might be a prudent choice, and let them decide for themselves whether or not to wear them? Personally, I wear a neck pouch every day when on foreign vacations, as a prudent safety measure. But I'm far from paranoid when out and about. And I certainly don't warn anyone that not wearing one would lead to disaster, total or otherwise. Come to think of it, I don't recall anyone else making such an exaggerated response. Oh, and we've had 2 pickpocket experiences, both in Paris. One was successful, the other got caught. But DH was wearing his moneybelt both times, and the successful thief only got a few €€ that were loose in the front pocket of his pants.

Posted by
116 posts

Liz, Giasoli, Bob, and Lee - Thank you.
Nick and especially to NEW Travelers: I am not paranoid.
I wear a money belt in Europe so I can relax and enjoy my visits even on public transportation and in crowded venues, with my alertness dialed down a little from riding certain public transport in the US. Bad things, even if infrequent, can still happen, but I can feel I've taken reasonable precautions.
By taking reasonable precautions, I can focus on the positive aspects of traveling in Europe, and not on the potential negatives. And I know several people upon whom unsuccessful theft attempts were made, including myself; and some who have been successfully pickpocketed in Europe, none of whom were using money belts.

Posted by
15566 posts

The first time I ever saw a money belt, it was worn by a European, my cousin's husband's cousin from Denmark. He was doing his summer "backpacking" through America. He wanted to see New York City, and since I lived out of town in NJ, I was elected to be his NYC host. One thing on his bucket list was to buy a Nikon 35mm SLR camera, which were apparently quite expensive in Denmark. So I took him down to 47th St, shopped and he found the camera he wanted for a price he was satisfied with. He pulled up his T-shirt, exposing his belly with a money belt strapped to it. Pulled out four $100 bills and got his camera. He was traveling Rick Steves style with his passport, return flight tickets, and a big wad of cash stuffed in a money belt. That was in the 80's.

Posted by
990 posts

LIZ, well said. I'm a local and you are about 90 percent spot on.

Overseas i wear my money belt and occasionally access it in public. If someone wants to make a grab at my lower chest to steal something good luck.

Paranoia lol. No my friends just good old horse sense.

Posted by
1451 posts

A little kindness goes a long way. I really think some can be a bit more understanding of OP's or some others who post.

The short or snarky answers, the gruff tone or the tough love are not warranted. It's not inviting the OP to come back - some get scared really.

Every single person who has traveled - once, twice or three hundred times was "new." We are "always new at something" - a job, a home, a city, a friend, etc., etc.

Put the info out here if you want to answer an OP. Give them the reasons and perhaps refer to a personal experience (as some do) to wear or not wear a money belt. Same thing with getting Euros ahead of time. Same thing with carrying or not carrying your passport. No matter what I read from those who don't, I still carry mine because I want to. And, I give my own reasons why. No one has to follow that. It's a suggestion.

Posted by
4435 posts

I think the main reason that locals don’t wear moneybelts is the same reason that I don’t wear a moneybelt in my hometown. If your wallet is stolen at home, you just go home or you call a friend or family member. The risk of theft is low and the impact of the theft is also low. When you are on vacation, the impact of a theft is higher.

I had my wallet stolen when I lived in London. I was coming out of the Notting Hill Gate tube station on a Saturday morning in a large crowd. When I discovered that my shoulderbag had been opened, I returned to the tube station and reported the theft to the Transit police in the station. They had the toll free number for Visa International and let me call from their office. I then went back to my flat where I had a place to stay and a fridge full of food. No wasted vacation day, no imminent travel plans, and I could have called a friend to help me out had I needed some cash. This happened on a Saturday and I had a replacement card on Monday.

While I still rarely use a moneybelt when I travel in western Europe, I do lower my risk by not keeping both of my credit cards in the same place.

If wearing a moneybelt makes you feel more comfortable, go for it.

Posted by
1451 posts

Besides a money belt, neck wallet, safety purse, or some other security bag, the next best defense is to be aware, be street smart, don't put yourself in a situation where you can be compromised.

If you choose to wear a money belt, it's good to put extra Euro and/or an extra card (if you have one) in there; also your PP if you choose to carry it. In your regular day bag, purse, wallet or whatever, put the "day's money" in there.

Actually some perps are taking a risk too. There are lots of people who know/practice self defense, karate and other martial arts.

The pickpockets want to tip-toe in, get your goodies and skip away. They are not looking to be smacked up side the head. So you won't really see violence in Italy.

Posted by
7626 posts

You know where I wear a money belt? When I travel to the US and have to stay in a hotel. The place scares me to death.
I also wear one when walking the Camino or walking through the Madrid train station.

I don't wear one anyplace in Germany, my messenger bag worn cross-body is good enough for me though I often have quite a bit of cash on me. Never carry my passport except for crossing borders or flying. A hotel safe is fine for storing that once I get to a destination.

Those of you who wear back packs? Yeah, you should wear a money belt. Do you carry your wallet in your pocket, front or back? Yeah, you should wear a money belt too.

Posted by
2400 posts

It would be nice if Marcia would post her thoughts on the subject after the theft, and aftermath, that they suffered through.

Posted by
1451 posts

You know where I wear a money belt? When I travel to the US and have to stay in a hotel. The place scares me to death.

There are nice cities and towns in the US. And there are bad - just like everywhere in the World. The US gets a bad rap because robberies and muggings are more violent. And no one really wears a money belt or neck wallet on their home turf - in their comfort zone. The reasons were stated by many.

Posted by
12084 posts

Taking precautions depends mainly where I am. In Germany and Austria a lot less, hardly, only being alert. Traveling in Germany I know what I'm doing, be it in an unknown small town, say in Schleswig-Holstein, or a large city, in the western or eastern part, regardless, it makes no difference.

Out and about on day trips out of town, I carry my passport. I carry cash and 3 credit cards, all dispersed, certainly not located in one spot. I am always reading signs to get myself oriented, plus going to some places frequented by tourists and a lot of spots/towns totally not visited by tourists, unless they're German.

In Paris I take precautions, am careful but certainly not paranoid. I don't use a money belt only the "hidden pocket" and neck pouch.
I expect the locals to spot me out as an outsider when I'm there in the summer.

Posted by
152 posts

I have a different perspective: getting back to Rick Steves and his philosophy. Then and now supporting travelers with less experience successfully and with greater confidence get to see new places- showing one how to navigate public transport, etc. on the tours. The money belt is just part of that process.
Over many years of travel I have also devised a system that works for me, but still find a traditional money belt useful in some situations, also in the US. However, clothing has really evolved since early Rick and the era of bulky pocketed travel vests and the like. With the advent of "athleisure" my last trip, for example, I was able to fit my credit card, room key card and some cash in the cell phone pocket on the upper thigh of my leggings and I didn't even have to bother with my tiny crossbody wallet thing. Another pair of yoga-type pants has an invisible zipper in back along the top, where there is a surprisingly roomy pocket. Covered with my t shirt it it so much more comfortable but functions the same as a money belt.
Experienced travelers find what works for them- I think consistency is key so you have a set routine related to your stuff. I agree about trying to not look lost even if you are, and being aware of your surroundings. After that, you and me and everyone else are just subject to fate!

Posted by
1451 posts

Posted by joe32F

" Nick-- Do you lock your door when you leave home?"
Not usually, what would be the point? Even if I locked up the house, I can't lock up the garden. Is someone going to steal my oranges or piddle in my pool?

Locking doors and windows is a deterrent for a thief. Sure, if they want to break in, they will try their best. Why make it easy? "Steal your oranges, lol?" Not unless he was really hungry and took a break after "working so hard" to steal stuff from your home or car.

Posted by
331 posts

A few points.

One Travelers, especially Americans tend to be a bit obvious and tend to have things that thief’s like like money and credit cards. And the thief’s Know this.

Next point Teavelers tend to go to places that are more frequently worked by pick pockets. Case in point the only two places I have EVER been warned about pick pockets being “common “ in an area are both in Europe. One was in line to go up the Eiffel Tower and the second was the changing of the gaurd at Buchingham Palace. So you may say London is safe but the Police officers that kept shouting out warnings about pick pockets and referring to the location as the most pick pockets in all of London don’t seam to agree.

I am sure that places in US are as bad or worse, I image the elevator to the top of the Empire State Building is probably bad too. But I tend not t visit them. I don’t stand out like I do in Europe and I don’t loose precious time and have my expensive vacation “ruinid” by getting pick pocketed. If I go into Detroit to the Auto Show and lose my wallet I am out a bit of money. I have to contact my credit card companies and I have had my trip to the Autoshow messed up. But it cost me maybe $50 and I can return with little problem the next day or wait until next year.
If I lose my wallet in London with my cash and credit cards I have messed up at least one day. I have probably adversely effected a trip that cost thousands of dollars and that is much harder to “do over”.

It is not the likelihood of something happening it is the level of “damage” that results that is the problem. At home the damage is minimal, it increases if I am on vacation, it increase if I am doing something expensive, it increases if I am doing something I have always wanted to do for years or decades . All of these make it for me a situation that I don’t want to chance. Odds are nothing will happen but the results will suck so bad that I don’t feel like risking it,
It is the same reason I do a lot of things, because I don’t want to have to deal with the results if things go wrong.

Personally I want as relaxing and easy and enjoyable vacation as I can and I don’t need to take the gamble. Same reason I have insurance on my house against tornadoes, odds are I will never need it and thusvit is a waste of money but if a tornado hits my house it would be so catastrophic that I don’t want to risk it.

Posted by
5539 posts

Honestly, we travel Abroad frequently as do our friends. I find it interesting that this forum is so pro moneybelt where other travel forums are not. Is it because Rick Steve’s gives them to tour members? It just surprises me.

Posted by
12084 posts

Every time I am in London, I go to see the Changing of the Guard at least once or twice per visit. There are occasions when I find the event better than on some.

Posted by
5817 posts

The moneybelt obsession is definitely a "Rick Steves brand" thing. I don't think they give them away anymore. Imagine the unfortunate RS fan, preparing for their latest trip. Desperate to "pack light" but buried under a pile of complimentary money belts ! :-) I think they give you an allowance to spend in the online shop now.

As with all social forums there is an element of echo chamber in action. The same ideas and theories bouncing around and increasing in "apparent" importance and validity. A lot of confirmation bias in action as well, on all sides. Add to this an element of "Rick worship", if he says it, it must be true! And you have a bit of a perfect storm, which can on occasion border on to (unintentional....probably) scaremongering.
It's why it's always worth using a number of different sources when researching. No harm in a range of views.

Posted by
2275 posts

So what is your solution? Should we all advocate NOT wearing a moneybelt for any reason, because we don't want to spook the small minority of travellers who might fixate on the possible negatives of a foreign vacation? I think this type of traveller is likely to fixate on something else, if not this. Face it- certain people will fantasize about vacation disasters no matter what. So are we supposed to cater to their unrealistic fantasies? Or simply state the reasons why moneybelts (and/or their equivalents) might be a prudent choice, and let them decide for themselves whether or not to wear them? Personally, I wear a neck pouch every day when on foreign vacations, as a prudent safety measure. But I'm far from paranoid when out and about. And I certainly don't warn anyone that not wearing one would lead to disaster, total or otherwise. Come to think of it, I don't recall anyone else making such an exaggerated response. Oh, and we've had 2 pickpocket experiences, both in Paris. One was successful, the other got caught. But DH was wearing his moneybelt both times, and the successful thief only got a few €€ that were loose in the front pocket of his pants.

I don't have a solution exactly, but I think the emphasis should on how money belts can help in the unlikely event of a theft. Because it is unlikely, most people will not be victims of pickpocketing, that's just statistics. The issue is that the consequences can make things difficult so a money belt is one of many strategies to help. Some people do get very, very strident in their money belt activism and that's not helping anyone. So maybe a focus on money belts as one possible strategy. The goal is to minimize the consequences from a theft while enjoying the trip. How one does that is a matter of priorities, preferences, and individual factors.

I personally find money belts overkill and I mostly travel in southern Europe. Often in pickpocket prone areas like Rome and Barcelona. Ive never been pickpocketed, I did have one attempt in Paris and just yelled at them to go away.
I split my cards between my husband and myself so if one person is pickpocketed there is a credit card not affected. I don't carry much cash. I use common sense in watching my surroundings (I think this one is key). My husband keeps his wallet in his front pocket, not back. I keep mine in a zippered cross-body purse. We don't use backpacks in cities (way too hard to watch). I leave extra cash and a backup emergency credit card in the hotel. The exact same things I do in NY or Chicago, it's pretty much second nature. That's not to say others shouldn't use a money belt. Whatever works for your travel style, my point is just that it's not the only way!

Posted by
11415 posts

So maybe a focus on money belts as one possible strategy. The goal is
to minimize the consequences from a theft while enjoying the trip. How
one does that is a matter of priorities, preferences, and individual
factors.

Mira, I think you've nailed it. Money belts don't work for everyone (my husband and I can't tolerate them) but that doesn't mean there aren't alternative methods, if security is the concern. The best solution depends on personal preference/comfort level so providing some alternatives to try is more helpful than insisting that belts are the ONLY way.

Posted by
172 posts

I definitely agree with the goal of "minimizing the consequences". I live in a major city and never use a moneybelt when attending crowded functions here. Passports and credit cards are difficult to replace when traveling; therefore I use a moneybelt. I sometimes wear it when traveling in the US also. As Sarah Murdoch points out, all you really need is your passport and credit card!

Posted by
1105 posts

I like to think that looking like I'm lost is an asset --
so much so that it seems to be turning into my default appearance.
Rather than being pickpocketed, I'm more likely to have someone offer to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge --
which is an even trickier scam to pull off in Madrid or Athens than it is in NYC.

Posted by
12084 posts

"Moneybelts don't work for everyone...." The first time I wore the moneybelt I saw it as a nuisance. That was the end of that, changed over to using the Eagle Creek "hidden pocket."

Posted by
971 posts

The only time I have been pick pocketed was in my home city of Copenhagen. However it was in a hotel restaurant, where I was having a work related lunch meeting. So I was in the tourist zone and since i was working, I was not at all paying attention to my surroundings when someone pretending to be a waiter lifted it out of my coat pocket. I doubt it would have happened in my local supermarket.
As has been frequently mentioned in this thread, it was annoying to have my different cards replaced, but not as much of a problem as it would have been if I had not been at home. The wallet only contained a few coins ( Denmark is a virtually cash less society) so the pick pockets got away with nothing.

Posted by
107 posts

This discussion about whether it is necessary or not to use a moneybelt, and all of the discussion of why or why (it isn't necessary) not is why I am here. New traveler here, about to do first RS tour (in Italy and then Paris) and this kind of nuanced discussion is my meat now. :)

Posted by
9 posts

Well, it depends on what the traveler is comfortable with whether to use a money belt or other alternative accessories or rather have nothing. What matters most is having your senses doubled -- but not to the extent of losing the fun in your tour visit/vacation. Applying precautionary measures like having separate things to put in your money, passport (and don't forget your flight ticket if you have one!), and other valuables that you need as a tourist or by putting it inside different places in your bag. I personally suggest that joining in such a huge crowd or being in a crowded place is somehow a great idea rather than (especially if you are alone!) being on a quiet street -- but that doesn't mean or imply you MIGHT NOT be pickpocketed in a large crowded area, but that thought that you could scream once pickpocketed would get you help to chase the thief.

Posted by
440 posts

I don't use a money belt, not because I don't think I wont get pick pocketed, just because I don't feel the need to. I put cash in my little North Face messenger bag which has multiple safe compartments, my partner calls it a man bag. And my phone I can normally feel in my pocket anyway.
I never leave the hotel with my passport, if i get stopped by Police I will happily go to the hotel to show them my I.D.

Posted by
2662 posts

Never used a money belt on 12 trips to Germany and Austria and northern Italy, Dolomites. Never felt ill at ease. I'm aware of my wallet and surroundings. I always leave my passport in the room safe.

I live in northern NJ by NYC. When I go to NYC, I don't wear a money belt. Why would I wear on in Berchtesgaden, Germany?

Posted by
14 posts

I lived in Santa Fe, NM for a while and I could pick out the tourists without a problem. Go to Europe, I bet the locals can pick up most of them. Thus the criminals will pick out the tourists. They know you are there for vacation and will finally be gone soon. Local police will just help you out until you leave because they know you will have to go back home. Even if the criminal gets caught, you'll never find out about it. Plus a criminal can camp out in the same area for a long time because they know their target will never be back, as opposed to the local.

Criminals pick out the tourists. Easy target. They do it in the US too. It's that we never hear about it.

Posted by
990 posts

I access my money belt in public, but never in the middle of a crowd. If someone wants to take it from me they'll have to lift up my jacket and shirt and grab for my stomach. Good luck with that.

Posted by
2274 posts

When I go to NYC, I don't wear a money belt. Why would I wear on in Berchtesgaden, Germany?

Because pickpocketing is very rare in the US (you’re more likely to get mugged in NYC) and common in Europe.

Posted by
12084 posts

I access my "money belt" in public too. It's actually the hidden pocket or the neck pouch, after which I tuck it back in. If "they" want it, they'll have to jump me American style for it...wrong battle field, pal.

Posted by
1369 posts

I love the security of my money belt. And my neck wallet for my passport and boarding pass when I'm at the airport or in transit between cities. Because I really don't want to ruin my vacation by losing my passport. And as a previous poster mentioned, for me, it's about developing a routine, a set of habits, so that I don't screw up myself and leave something somewhere.

But I hate the money belt that I used to use. Too sweaty. So I found a book with all sorts of ideas for sewing my own travel gear: money belt; hidden wallet; neck wallet, zipper bags, kindle case. I found some fabric that inspired me and made them all!

Now my problem is which one to use!! I can't wait to try them all!! You'll recognize me on my next trip - I'll be the one with the money belt AND the neck wallet AND the hidden pocket :-)

Posted by
8487 posts

I'm at a loss at all these arguments about money belts.

It's not about the money belt, it's about "I'm right and you're wrong."

If you want to use a money belt, use a money belt. If you don't want to use a money belt, don't use a money belt.

I use a money belt. I like using it. I don't have to make excuses as to why I wear one. If you don't want to use one, I don't care. It has no effect on me whatsover.

As to all things travel, do what makes YOU happy and not someone you only know by a screen name.

Posted by
3106 posts

Frank II

I agree with you 100%. I am a money belt user. I have repeatedly stated why elsewhere here so will not repeat myself again. I just don't understand the almost fanatical anti money belt feelings some have. Each to his or her own though.

Posted by
10161 posts

Rick's opinion seems to be that the pick-pocket threat differs by countries, and differs between regions of a country.

Posted by
2388 posts

I'm only halfway through these comments. But, presently, I agree with Mira:

The only issue I see with the money belt discussion is that it can inspire extreme paranoia in some travelers. If one prefers the security of a money belt, great. But there is a certain category of traveler that gets obsessed and sees crime on every corner. That’s just not the case and the excessive worries can hinder their enjoyment. Of course other people feel that their money belt stops them from worrying so they can enjoy themselves. Everyone is different, the issue I have is on the emphasis some people here put on money belts. Not that money belts are a good idea but that they are the ONLY WAY to avoid TOTAL DISASTER!!!!

Although I've been known to use a money security device in the past, I do think it was due to RS as I never used one before so there is a bit of paranoia on this forum. That being said, I do use it when traveling solo sometimes and I do this for organization more than safety while in transport...when I don't have sufficient pockets. And usually it is just deep in my bag. I keep my items separate so only one would get lost. I did wear a money belt on my RS tour because we were asked to do so. Otherwise, I just behave as I do at home as I live in the city.

Posted by
1097 posts

"Because pickpocketing is .... common in Europe."

Nonsense. In some parts of some towns in some countries in Europe, perhaps this is so. But it's not a concern in any of the places I've ever lived. Of course, you should wear a moneybelt if you prefer, but please don't claim Europe is some homogenous continent filled with petty thievery. That patently isn't true any more than Canada has the same gun-crime as USA. I suspect crime within the US also varies between, say, a big city and a small town. Or even within districts of the same big city.

Posted by
4062 posts

I also could care less if someone wants to wear or not wear a money belt.

What gets on my nerves is the fear and panic that ensues after newbies get the impression that Europe is full of thieves standing in every dark corner waiting to take your stuff.

I’ve lived in Europe for a dozen years, traveled all over and have never had a single thing stolen. In fact, I have left my wallet and phone behind only to have kind strangers chase me down to return these items. It is not a scary place.

Posted by
4852 posts

Moneybelts: the horse that won't die! I don't think it is paranoia that RS brings to the discussion, or why he brings it up. People read more into what he actually says. Its the fact that most Americans don't even realize that there is a threat from pickpockets, scam artists, or just plain losing important documents when you're 5,000 miles from home. Look around next time in you're in a public space in the US (outside Manhattan, the Las Vegas Strip, or heavily touristed areas of major cities, and you'll see countless numbers of people with big fat wallets and cellphones hanging out the back pockets of their jeans. Police warn about that here, but no-one cares since skilled pickpockets are rare (unlike skilled muggers). But abroad, its a potential trip disaster. If you recognize there is a (slight) threat, and choose to trust your instincts, then thats your choice.

Its the people who wear money belts hanging on the outside, that make me shake my head.

Posted by
5817 posts

It’s not the wearing of money belts that is the issue. As has been said, do what you want to do.
What bugs people is the over exaggeration, bordering on scaremongering, that often accompanies the discussion.
The lazy treatment of “Europe” as an amorphous mass doesn’t help.
Some very localised areas will have pickpockets. The vast majority of the continent doesn’t have a problem. The constant discussion making it sound like a hot bed of thieves is really quite offensive and completely unhelpful to new/nervous travellers.

Posted by
1255 posts

^^^^
Ding ding ding. The frustration is this is such a fringe, rare issue, but yet so, so much discussion. Threads with a hundred posts talking about how to stop something that experienced travelers who have spent hundreds and hundreds of nights in Europe have never encountered, that is an issue in only a few areas, but even there is rare. It's simply not worth this level of discussion.

Posted by
1285 posts

I agree 100% with Frank II. And I think all of us who are frequent travelers and who frequent this forum have viewpoints on this topic and aren't going to be swayed. Nor should we be trying to convince anyone.

The challenge comes in when I novice traveler posts something along the lines of, "I'm making my first trip to Europe. I've heard about pickpockets. What's the best protection? Should I wear a moneybelt?" And then they get a slew of conflicting information and opinions, all of which are perfectly valid but which only serve to cause confusion and anxiety for the noob. And it's made worse by the fanaticism and insults.

I am working on a post for my blog that lays out the various arguments and provides some common sense considerations to help people decide whether they would have a better trip wearing a moneybelt or not. I'm thinking of a self-assessment. Things like, "Are you good at maintaining presence of mind when you are in large crowds and have been on the go all day?" Or "Do you get nervous and easily distracted when you're in a strange place?" Or "How likely are you to absentmindedly put your purse down so you can take a picture of something?" Or "How much stuff do you expect to carry while you're exploring the city, and how will you carry it? Backpack? Shoulder sling bag? Purse? Pockets?" Or "Would having your passport and credit cards and cash in a pouch under your clothing make you feel more or less confident? More or less careless?"

I'm not sure all the questions yet, but I think giving people stuff to think about and make an informed decision, rather than trying to convince them that they should do what we do, is a good thing.

Posted by
1255 posts

I disagree. There is a right way and a wrong way. The right way involves having a realistic sense of risk, something that some people don't seem to have. So the right way may include money belts in some rare cases, it certainly doesn't include them in all cases. This whole argument is the logical equivalent of:
Person A: "Well you should never stand under trees."
Person B: "Whuh? "
Person A: "Oh, because lightning could hit them, its not a safe place."
Person B: "Whuh? It's not even raining, it's a sunny day."
Person A: "Well, you can never be too careful. Who are you to judge me."

Sorry, that is wrong. Just as wearing a money belt at all times in "Europe" is wrong, just because 3-4 places have a slightly elevated risk of pickpockets.

And further:
Person B: "That's ridiculous."
Person A: "Well, I've never been hit by lightning so that proves it."

Posted by
8905 posts

is an issue in only a few areas, but even there is rare.

A rare event is getting hit by lightning. Everyday at popular attractions across Europe, tourists get nabbed by pickpockets. If it was such a "rare" event you wouldn't see so many "beware of pickpocket" signs or announcements on trains and subways.

stop something that experienced travelers who have spent hundreds and
hundreds of nights in Europe have never encountered

I've also spent hundreds of night in Europe and have had multiple instances of either myself or someone traveling with me either nabbed or an attempt; there's no correlation.

If using a ten dollar money belt or free hotel rooms safe will save me the aggravation of having to waste precious vacations days getting a passport replaced/contacting banks, I will sing their praises every time.

Also, lets not loose sight of the other function of money belts: they also prevent you from accidentally loosing valuables. Probably an even bigger threat than the thieves themselves.

Posted by
1255 posts

Actually a lightning strike gives too much gravitas. It is more like:

Person A: "You should always carry an umbrella, at all times, here in Arizona."
Person B: "Whuh? "
Person A: "Oh, because it could rain and then you get wet."
Person B: "Whuh? It's not even raining, it's a sunny day. In Summer. In the desert."
Person A: "Well, you can never be too careful. Who are you to judge me."
Person B: "That's ridiculous."
Person A: "Well, I've never been rained on so that proves it."
Person B: "What happens if you get rained on, do you melt or something?"
Person A: "Oh no, it just takes an hour or two to dry out. But who wants to be inconvenienced on vacation."
Person B: " ... "

Posted by
10161 posts

We don't hear much from travelers who have been pick-pocketed.

Posted by
1285 posts

I have been pickpocketed.

When it happened I was in transit between destinations. I had a moneybelt. I wasn't wearing it at the time. It was in my backpack. They got my wallet, but fortunately not the items that were in my moneybelt, including my passport and some cash. Unfortunately, I had neglected to transfer some other important items (my driver's license, my credit card) from my wallet to my moneybelt before making that leg of the journey. I had to spend hours on the phone arranging for a replacement credit card, and I had to cancel a rental car I had reserved for the last few days of my trip, and I had to cancel a hotel reservation that depended on driving, and I had to get a new hotel reservation instead. Fortunately, my next hotel was prepaid; otherwise, I would have been on the street.

But as Kaeleku has pointed out, this is such a rare occurrence, and carrying or wearing a moneybelt is such an enormous burden, it is foolish to worry about it ever happening again.

The thing is, wearing a moneybelt is such a low risk proposition, to make the straw man argument that it's analogous to carrying an umbrella in a place where it never rains is nonsensical. It's more analogous to wearing a seatbelt, or carrying an umbrella when you are visiting London in October, or carrying a photocopy of your passport, or carrying backup credit and debit cards, or buying travel insurance. You make the decision by weighing your tolerance for risk against the cost/burden of the protection.

Nevertheless, Kaeleku, I 100% support your decision to not carry or wear a moneybelt, or to take any other precautions against unlikely risks.

Posted by
5232 posts

Yes, it's a personal choice. Knowing myself, I am better off always wearing a money belt while traveling so it's just habit to put it on in the morning and requires little thought. I don't find it at all uncomfortable.

Posted by
12084 posts

Before using the hidden pocket and/or neck pouch, I used the money belt on one trip, it was a nuisance, bothersome. Prior to that never used any of this stuff even though friends and the Mrs had urged it.

Posted by
10662 posts

Well, I'm not a tourist, I'm a Traveler. I never carry more than 7kg, and that in an old grocery bag. I only bring clothes that I can wash each night in a public fountain. Ive never been anywhere where I didn't feel perfectly safe and I feel comfortable and I feel appropriate at the opera in flip flops. I certainly don't wear a money belt as those are only for people who don't know better.

Posted by
3116 posts

They aren't carrying multiple credit cards and cash

Oh really? Of course we do! As native New Yorkers, my husband and I certainly DO carry multiple credit cards and cash. Why would the OP assume otherwise?

And yes, we don't wear money belts at home! I won't be wearing one in England or Wales next week; I did wear one in Paris 4 months ago.

Curious, why is this thread in the "Tourist Scams" forum? What exactly is the scam?

Posted by
12084 posts

I see myself as such too... a traveler, but in most countries in Europe I am a tourist.

Posted by
101 posts

My favorite airport thief story:

https://darwinawards.com/stupid/stupid2000-04.html

Note to pickpockets - if you're going to grab someone's wallet and run, choose a victim who didn't just set the world 100m sprint record - literally the fastest man alive. The thieves aren't always as smart as we give them credit for. :)

Posted by
37 posts

I have been pickpocketed in Amsterdam. Thank goodness I had my money belt. They only got a little cash and my favorite sunglasses. My passport and credit cards were safe. I don’t like wearing it, but my personal experience keeps me doing it.

Posted by
393 posts

"Because pickpocketing is .... common in Europe."
Nonsense. In some parts of some towns in some countries in Europe, perhaps this is so. But it's not a concern in any of the places I've ever lived.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eiffel-tower-closed-to-the-public-as-workers-strike-over-pickpocket-concerns-10270064.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-22098102

We were pick pocketed twice in Italy. Our first day out right by the Leaning Tower of Pisa 3 girls approached us with clipboards. I kept walking. I told my my husband of this possible scam but he didn’t want to be rude so he stopped to listen to them. I walked a few feet away then I turned, walked back, and pulled him away by his arm. In that brief time they managed to completely unzip the Pacsafe sling bag on his back. He hadn’t secured the latches. Fortunately anything of value was in the inner pocket. We made sure to properly latch our PacSafe sling bags the rest of the trip. They’re great bags if you latch them properly.

The second attempt occurred while walking down a train platform in Tuscany. It wasn’t crowded. My daughter had put her water bottle in my husband’s cargo shorts pocket. I guess the water bottle was mistaken for a fat wallet. A man walking along side my husband put his hand in my husbands pocket and his hand got stuck. It was so odd. They walked a few feet with my husband staring at the man whose hand was stuck in his pocket and the man kept looking straight ahead like nothing was going on. Finally the man dislodged his hand and walked away.