Don’t carry a Money Belt

It seems it is almost compulsory for a tourist on their first overseas trip, to carry a money belt.  Every travel goods shop will tell you that you have to have one.


I don’t do it!  I tried for a few trips. I wore the one around my neck and the one around my waist.  With relief, I abandoned the practice for the following reasons:

1. Nothing spells “Target” more than a money belt. I try to look like I belong wherever I visit and money belts blow that! Thieves can see them, shopkeepers see them. Far from protecting oneself, I think it potentially puts a traveller at risk. I am more worried about being mugged than being pick pocketed!

2. They are hard to get stuff out of quickly. I remember one time in El Salvador, I was required to show my passport as ID. Surrounded by a group of  locals who saw exactly where my money belt was and what was in it was a somewhat uncomfortable moment!

3. They are horrible to wear,  make me sweat and they are annoying. On my first trip to India, everything in my money belt was soaked in my sweat. It was gross and I had to explain the mysterious stain in my passport for years.

Picture 147

A younger me in India – spot the belt around my neck and its bulge on my tummy

I do what I do at home. I carry a small amount of cash and a credit or debit card in my regular wallet. If worried, I will take a dummy wallet. I keep my passport and other essentials safely in the hotel safe or in a top pocket. I don’t wear a money belt at home and I don’t carry lots of cash, why do it when travelling? The locals that surround me in BangkokBerlin, Beirut, Brisbane, Baltimore or Buenos Aires are not wearing a money belt either! Take reasonable precautions but live normally!

touristsThere are, of course, some tourists who almost deserve to have their valuables stolen! Wandering down dark streets with a wallet  full of all their valuables hanging out of the back of their trousers is an open invitation! Or storing cash or passport in their back pack!


The travel world is divided on this topic – what do you think?


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  1. I have spent three of the past seven years on the road and always carry a money belt when traveling internationally. My money belt cannot be seen and it ensures my passport is on me.

    You can carry small amounts of money in a wallet, however a money belt is the best way to carry the rest.

    Why do you think it makes you a target more than a wallet. I am not trolling. I am genuinely interested in learning about other people’s perspectives.

  2. No kidding…..or a fanny pack….inspite of Matthew McConahaughys seal of approval. Winding up a week in Budapest- money for the day goes in front pocket- extra goes in wallet in inner pocket of purse hung diagonally across shoulder so harder to pull off. ATMs were invented for a reason.

  3. All nylon money belts are cheap and great. I also do a scottevest, pocketed fishing shirt, cargo pants and a pocketed tilley if out and about for the day. Comes in handy for tightly packed trains and markets. The money belt can also carry items other than cash – medicines, passport copies, etc.

  4. They fall into the same category as fanny packs and travelers checks. Travel “tools” from another era.

  5. David — Really? The Worst?!!! I am honoured! Could you not just say you disagree and give a useful reason why? 🙂

    ccord— Although I miss travellers checks/cheques. They had a certain style about them!!

  6. I took one on my first overseas trip to Cambodia at 19…and other than shoving one in my suitcase to soothe my fretting mother’s raw nerves, I have never used one since. Totally agree – they are an equally inconvenient equivalent to a neon sign flashing “Mug Me”. I bought a slash-proof cross-body bag with a lock-zip instead. I found it a much preferable option.

  7. I think it needs to be recognised that it is harder for a woman, as women’s clothing so often offers less in the way of pockets (if any) than men’s. Also, not every traveller stays in a hotel with a safe. Many of us use little local guesthouse/hostel-type accommodations, such as losmen in Indonesia, youth hostels, etc., which either don’t offer those facilities or are less safe than keeping things with you. After suffering, like you, with a bought money belt in the tropics, I made my own belt, with a plastic lining to protect the money and passport from perspiration, and a body-side outer soft cool lining to protect me from the plastic! Like you, I never carry a lot of cash these days, due to the convenience of ATMs. I find the Travelex cards the best, as it means I don’t need to use my credit card in what could be a dodgy ATM, and only load a couple of hundred dollars at a time unless I am expecting to be paying a large amount (e.g. for an airfare). I can reload as often as I like (I know there are fees, but I think it’s worth it) on my mobile or laptop anywhere, anytime. If I need to get cash or passport out, I try, ahead of the need, to remove it from the belt discreetly (in a toilet if possible) rather than in front of others. I also keep the money in the zipped half of the belt, and the passport in the other, so that if I do have to retrieve the passport openly , the cash does not show. I totally agree with the “look like a local” advice. I also have to say I do it differently from one country to another – I am at my most cautious (paranoid?) in Asia, and when I went to Finland, I acted entirely as I would in Adelaide, with almost no precautions at all.

  8. Guys, everyone is different. I am glad Martin is comfortable without one. I am not. Maybe I should go on holiday with Martin and he can be my cash carrier? LOL

  9. I bought a money belt from a company called landing gear just before the last trip i took. It can be worn unseen under the clothes and has a mesh at the back that makes it really comfy to wear.
    I was not keen before but after using it for a few days i found it a must have for all future trips!

  10. I worked in the travel business for over 10yrs. Money belts may not be popular but I have traveled all over the world and when worn under your clothes is a great option. I have purchase one from AJ accessory in amazon and is great, it will not make you sweat in hot climates and has plenty of space for all you credit cards, money and every room keys. Who cares if its not cool to wear, is about safety.

  11. I travel for work and leisure. I started using one recently. I never thought I would. But it is very comfortable and great for keeping my credit cards and money safe. I got mine from Alpine Rivers on amazon. I would recommend it. You just have to know how to use it. I do not use it for quick access to money. Instead, I keep what I need for the day in a small purse. It means my travel money and credit cards are secure and out of sight of prying eyes.

  12. Have you tried the detachable, secure and water-resistant ‘pock-its’ that attach to comfy bamboo undies for both women and men?
    You can get them at

    I used to use a money belt or a hidden pocket, but find these better as they sit flat, and can be taken off when you don’t need a pocket o become regular undies.

  13. To add to my previous post, I have just spent 3 weeks in Indonesia, and although I took my money belt, I didn’t wear it, except once, when I needed to take my passport with me, but didn’t like to risk losing it. It is a completely hidden flat pack which sits under my clothing, and has no straps showing. As I was staying in a flat, I left money and passport in hidden places from when I arrived, although I don’t see the need to carry much cash when cards are acceptable almost everywhere. Each day I carried just a few dollars plus my Travelex cards (I have 2, just in case) in an ordinary purse. I never take a handbag (even in Australia I only use one if going out to somewhere special), just an ordinary shopping-type bag. I have to add that I never wear jewellery when travelling, (apart from inexpensive earrings), because that is another thing which just advertises that you have something worth stealing. And I wouldn’t be caught dead with a bumbag!

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