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.
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 Bangkok, Berlin, Beirut, Brisbane, Baltimore or Buenos Aires are not wearing a money belt either! Take reasonable precautions but live normally!
There 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?