How to carry money

In my opinion, the most important items while traveling are your passport (or driver’s license) and your money, whether it’s in the form of a credit card, ATM card, cash, or ideally a combination of all three.  You could literally lose everything else while on vacation, and as long as you still had those items, the trip can go on.  So I take very seriously keeping these things protected to minimize the risk of loss or theft.

The passport is easy; just leave it at the hotel, either in the room safe or with the front desk.  Nearly everywhere I’ve been, there’s been no need to roam the streets with my passport in my pocket.

With money, there are several options.  On my first few overseas vacations, I wore a money belt like the ones pictured here.  A money belt is a very secure way to carry around cash and cards, but it’s uncomfortable and feels weird whenever I sit down.  Definitely not a clothing accessory that disappears into the background; I was always very aware of it being around my waist.  For that reason, I got rid of the money belt after a few trips.

My very first tour guide in Europe – who needless to say was a seasoned traveler – wore his money on his leg.  He had some kind of small pouch with a strap that wrapped around his calf and kept his stuff secure under his pants.  I had never seen this before, and to this day I don’t recall ever seeing anyone else do it, but it seemed effective and no one noticed any odd bulges in his pant leg.  I considered this but decided against it because 1) I wear shorts most of the time, and 2) it would still bother me like the money belt having a piece of fabric wrapped around my appendage while I’m trying to move around.

A popular alternative to the money belt is a neck wallet, which is simply a flat pouch worn around the neck and underneath your shirt.  Given the choice, I’d prefer this to the money belt because it seems less restricting to movement and positioning compared to having a wide belt wrapped around my waist.  But it’s still something cumbersome that’s dangling off of me.

So what I do now when I’m out and about in a foreign place is very simple:  I carry a credit card and a little bit of cash in my front pocket.  If I walk into a crowded area or find myself in any situation where I feel I’m at even a small risk of theft, then I put my hand in my pocket and cover up my money.  I always travel with 2 credit cards and at least one ATM card, and other than the single credit card I have on me, all the others are locked in the room safe.  That way, if I do get pickpocketed, I still have some payment methods I can use after canceling the card that got stolen.

This easy method works great as long as you’re always vigilant about your surroundings.  If you’re the type who has your head buried in your cell phone as you walk around an unfamiliar area, then you’re an easy target and probably want a more secure method of money storage.


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