Oh, the satchel full of cash! A symbol of the worried and apprehensive traveller, or a safe haven for your most prized possessions and a potential lifesaver in an emergency?
Money belts have become increasingly necessary as a result of fundamental shifts in the ways in which we pay for trips, reserve accommodations, and even carry cash while we are on the go over the past decade.
Opinions among travellers regarding the most effective way to protect your cash and credit cards while travelling are split.
The fees charged by foreign credit cards are nearly nonexistent, Venmo is a thing, and traveler’s checks are no longer even a thing.
Because carrying cash is becoming both less essential to traveling and simpler to do while on the go, one of the essential items of travel gear—the money belt—is becoming unnecessary.
Is the money belt no longer in use?
The Changing Currency of Travel
When I first began travelling, which was more than ten years ago, I carried traveler’s cheques (yes, the letter “q” is included in the spelling). For those of you who are too young to remember, traveler’s checks were like a magical version of Monopoly money that you purchased in advance of your vacation.
The nicest thing was that they were very impossible to steal, and yet you could use them just like cash at places like hotels and restaurants.
In the event that your traveler’s cheques were misplaced or stolen, all you needed to do was contact American Express (using a payphone and your handy calling card for international calls), and they will reissue new checks and cancel the missing or stolen ones.
The procedure was a nuisance, but it resulted in a significant increase in the amount of peace of mind that could be enjoyed at a time when carrying your whole wad was routine.
Because of how automated teller machines (ATMs) used to operate, your only alternative choice was to carry a considerable quantity of cash with you at all times. Traveler’s checks were not an option.
Either your US debit card did not work at all while you were abroad, or the international fees were so high that you had to withdraw hundreds of dollars at a time. This caused the same cash-heavy anxiety that you experienced while staying in a sketchy hostel or walking through crowded European streets.
I recall continually checking my pockets to convince myself that I still had my cash with me, and yes, I did have a money belt in my bag, even though I used it very little. It was a trying method to go from place to place.
In the year 2008, I was forced to physically defend myself against a group of men who had cornered me in the middle of the night at a railway station in Spain.
They wanted the money that was in my pockets, which was the whole of the wealth I had at the time. In the event that I had been robbed, I would have been left penniless in Euros. I don’t suggest it.
The Money Belt
The money belt was the answer to the problem of how to transport all of this currency overseas. The money belt was a location to keep all of your cash secure from pickpockets, thieves, and forgetfulness.
It was designed to lie flat against your waist (or hang around your neck, if you’re one of those people), and it was designed to lay flat against your waist. You put it on first thing in the morning and then you headed out into the world.
The one and only disadvantage of using money belts is, well, everything.
Four Big Problems with Money Belts
To put it simply, I have four major problems with money belts:
- The appearance and sensation of money belts is absurd.
- Money belts are a visible declaration to others that you carry valuables (and where they are)
- To put it plainly, money belts serve no use.
- Wearing a money belt is a public statement that you do not trust anybody.
The appearance of money belts is absurd.
The primary function of a money belt is to conceal the location of valuables so that they are less likely to be stolen.
The one and only drawback is that money belts are notoriously obvious whenever they are worn. As soon as you put a few cash in there, along with possibly your passport, you start looking like a kangaroo.
A kangaroo who is sitting on a large sum of money.
Using your money belt is an even larger concern. When you are in a crowded market and you want to buy a few trinkets for your friends and family, you have to lift your shirt (showing off that flabby belly), unzip your money belt, rummage through ALL of your money looking for small bills with your neck craned like an idiot, then wait with your belt (and belly exposed) for change, only to do it all over again if you want to buy a taco.
Even worse, if you are in a rush, bills and cards may slip out of your wallet, and pickpockets may steal your money while you are exposed to the world. Plus, you look like a stupid.
And the sweating—did I not mention that? Money belts are intended to be worn in close proximity to the wearer’s skin. I’ll say that again. You are required to carry about a heavy polyester bag on your lower back or stomach for the whole day. While you are out on a hike, strolling around town, or biking all over the place.
Even in cooler climates, money belts are a certain source of embarrassing perspiration. You won’t find anybody wearing them in Southeast Asian countries. Your money will vanish into thin air.
Wearing a money belt makes you more of a target for thieves.
Another significant issue that I have with money belts is that they lack fundamental organisational capabilities. In spite of the fact that a money belt’s primary function is to conceal your cash and cards from prying eyes, the manner in which they are often worn makes the contents of the belt quite obvious.
You have to disclose all of your cash in order to receive just a tiny bit, which makes the secret travel pouch you’re using an advertising for the location and worth of the cash you’re carrying and nullifies any potential advantage it may have offered you otherwise.
Additionally, they quickly label you as a tourist, and not a very knowledgeable one at that.
Money belts are cumbersome, difficult to use, and give the impression that you are inexperienced in travel, all of which make you an easy target for theft and, at best, cause you to pay higher charges.
To prevent becoming a victim of theft, the first step is to make yourself seem like the least probable target possible. Even when they are worn and utilised correctly, money belts have the opposite effect.
You expose the location of your goods to potential criminals, you let it be known just how much you are carrying, and you indicate a lack of appropriate travel tact. The conditions were ideal for a robbery.
The Uselessness of Money Belts in Everyday Life
People used to carry a significant amount of cash—sometimes all of their cash—on them at all times when they went somewhere, which is what led to the development of money belts. There were no ATMs available, and the costs associated with using credit cards in other countries were quite high.
Nowadays, people seldom travel in such a manner. You don’t pay for your accommodation with cash; instead, you book it via a website like Hostelworld or AirBnB. Even paying for taxis no longer requires cash since there is an app for that.
In the event that you do find yourself in need of cash, you may make withdrawals from the ATM for a modest amount every few days while paying little or no transaction costs.
Money belts are a relic from a bygone period when people travelled more often. Nowadays, nobody travels with such cumbersome leather trunks. When you travel, leave your money belt at home.
Money Belts are a Shout in the Dark that Declares,”I Don’t Trust Anyone!”
It’s not that money belts are inherently ineffective as travel accessories that bothers me the most. There is a lot of bad travel gear out there, but not all of it will turn you into an irritable or even an uninformed traveller. Money belts do.
When you travel, your attitude is the most important thing. Your journey will be shaped in every way by the preconceptions you bring with you. Because of this, it is possible for some individuals to visit the same location on the same day as another person yet have quite different experiences.
If you walk about life expecting to be cheated or taken advantage of at every step, that is exactly what will happen. Why? mainly due to the fact that whenever you wear a money belt, you give off the appearance of being wealthy.
You don’t perceive individuals as residents of the area enjoying their lives; rather, you see them as potential criminals and con artists attempting to con you out of your money.
This is a terrible way of thinking, and it’s one that I often see in vacationers who are too concerned about the safety of their goods.
I’m not suggesting that you should go into every circumstance with your arms wide open and your heart completely trusting others; traveling properly requires a certain amount of caution.
Although I am arguing that your default setting cannot always be one of aggressive distrust, that is precisely the impression that one gets when wearing a money belt. When you put it on in the morning, it serves as a tangible and perspiration-inducing reminder that there are people out to get you.
It affects how you stand, how you carry yourself, and how you interact with others on a regular basis.
He gets down off his soapbox. I am aware that saying anything like that makes me seem like a hippie, but the way you approach things really is the most important factor.
Find the most straightforward and safe method to transport your cash, hide the remainder in a secure location that is not in close proximity to you, and then focus on having fun throughout your journey.
It is possible that terrible things may occur, but preparing for them at every step is a fantastic way to miss out on many amazing opportunities when they present themselves.
The Pros of Money Belts
It’s absolutely OK if some of you still have white-knuckled clutches on your money belt; I know that some of you still do that. Everyone travels in their own unique way, and it’s great that a money belt may provide you peace of mind when you’re out and about in the world.
I will be the first to admit that while I believe there are better alternatives to solutions for storing money while travelling than money belts, they do offer a few positive aspects that make them worth considering.
Money Belts Keep You Organized
Money belts let you keep track of your funds and store everything in one convenient location. Many people who go on vacation take a money belt along with them in lieu of a traditional travel wallet.
Money belts enable you to separate your day-to-day spending money from your excursion funds, allowing you to better manage both sets of funds (deep storage).
Money belts are also an excellent spot to put an additional credit card for use in an unexpected circumstance, in addition to papers such as your immunisation card or e-visa, so that you always have them on your person even if they are not immediately accessible.
You’ll Have Less Stress When You Wear a Money Belt.
The ability to travel is one that must be honed through time. It’s not going to come naturally to you at first, and that’s okay. Even if you read a thousand articles packed with tips, the worry of your first trip (or even the stress of your tenth trip) is going to be inevitable, particularly with regard to money and possessions.
If a money belt is what will make you feel the most secure, then by all means, wear one. You will, with experience, figure out how you like to travel and what methods are most effective for keeping your money secure.
When I travel, I like to think of a money belt as my “training wheels.” It may be embarrassing and make you seem to be a nerd, but it is far preferable to have something there to prevent your face from slamming into the ground.
Put on a money belt until you no longer need it, at which point you may toss it in the garbage and go travelling like a grown-up.
Money Belt Reviews
Eagle Creek’s hidden money belt is a sleek and simple 2-zipper pocket money belt that is without a doubt the most well-liked money belt available on the market today. It is precisely what you would expect from a money belt, and for the price of $20, it is definitely something that is worth a try.
FlipBelt Zipper ($34)
The FlipBelt was at first developed as a place for runners to store their phone, keys, and a few dollars while they were out for a run. However, it has since found a unique niche in the market for travel money belts.
The finest aspect is that it is not intended to be covered up by your shirt and worn directly on your skin. It is constructed from a soft and pliable material, and it moulds itself beautifully to your body.
You could put objects in the original FlipBelt’s few basic stash compartments, which did not have zippers; you would then turn the belt inside out so that the items you had stored were protected on the inside, against your hip.
The zipper version has both of those pockets and the key connection, but in addition, it includes a pocket that closes with a zipper, providing an additional layer of protection.
You won’t be able to see the zipper or the pockets after you’ve turned the belt inside out, which makes it superior to traditional money belts in terms of both accessibility (you simply have to reach in through the belt strap) and covertness. This money belt is designed to conceal itself in plain view.
Money Belt Alternatives
To tell you the truth, you do not need a money belt. Even if you do have that much cash on you, a money belt is not the way to go; it is quite unlikely that you will have that much cash on you. So that you don’t appear like a typical tourist, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite alternatives to the traditional money belt.
Where would be the safest location for you to save your money? Put it in a pocket that zips up and keeps it close to your body. But you don’t need to put on an uncomfortable money belt in order to do it.
Investing in a pair of travel trousers that are both comfortable and practical, with a variety of pockets and compartments in which to hide cash, is a simple solution.
I have a lot of respect for:
Even though they have some fantastic features for travelling, such as zipped pockets, these trousers do not have the “travel looking” aesthetic and are comfortable and fashionable.
Chinos that have deep pockets that are thoughtfully built (so that nothing will fall out when you are sitting) and that also have additional zipped pockets on the inside for further protection. Put money for unexpected expenses in the pocket that closes with a zipper, and then forget about it.
A clever method for separating your valuables between your wallet and your reserve of cash in case of an emergency.
Pickpocket-Proof Travel Pants by Clothing Arts are available for $110.
If safety is your primary concern, you should consider purchasing these travel trousers since they provide a significant improvement in that regard. These trousers include 11 pockets, including 5 pockets with double security zippers, so you won’t have to worry about being pickpocketed while wearing them.
Even though it can take you an additional minute to get your money out, there is no risk of you being mugged. So, that’s very cool.
A waist pouch is sometimes known as a fanny pack, a bum bag, or an Awesome Sauce Waist Pouch.
It’s true that individuals in various regions of the globe call this bag by a variety of different names. Let’s put things in the past and move forward.
If you really, truly want to show off your wealth, you should simply buy a money belt and then switch to a fanny pack.
You can always have your belongings close at hand with a fanny pack, which makes it a great alternative to carrying about a cumbersome daypack.
When I’m riding around a city, which I do quite often, fanny packs are extremely convenient since they keep everything I need close at hand without requiring me to carry anything on my back.
The North Face Roo, which costs $34, comes highly recommended by fellow Tortuga writer and travel ninja Shannon Whitney, and I have to confess that it looks quite great.
There is a sweat-free alternative to money belts known as fanny packs. These packs may carry a few more ordinary goods than money belts, such as headphones, a snack bar, and even water if you want to take the tactical way.
It all depends on how you choose to wear them if you believe that they make you appear silly. You must take responsibility for it. A few years back, when I was in Paris, I saw the potential of the fanny pack.
When I was wearing one that was bright pink and had a zipper in the shape of the Eiffel Tower, I was actually asked to take photographs with some of the locals. If you’re going to give the impression that you’re a tourist, at least try to do it on your own terms.
DIY Deodorant Safe
When I travel, I always make sure that I put any money or credit cards that I may need for an emergency in a different place from the rest of my belongings. This way, if I am robbed or merely lose my wallet, I will still have a backup waiting for me at the hotel.
Utilizing the inside of a deodorant stick is the approach that I like the most. Just take the top off, put some cash and a credit card in there in case of an emergency, and then put the top back on.
It works best with a stick that has been used up around half way, and as an added benefit, you can still use it as a deodorant.
Venmo & Paypal
Do you remember the excitement you felt when you suddenly discovered a five dollar bill in your pocket? When you realize that you have $500 in your Venmo account, you will experience that sensation. Give up on the money belt entirely and switch to using just digital currency.
When you pay for products on the road using Venmo or PayPal, it gives the impression that you are getting free money. I really like using Venmo to reimburse a buddy for incidental expenses incurred while travelling together if that person has cash on hand.
That way, you may cut down on the number of times that you and your partner visit the ATM, and there won’t be any strange accumulation of IOUs. When you have access to WiFi or service, all you need to do to settle everything is transfer a few dollars to your friend.
A helpful piece of advice before going on vacation is to deposit $500 into your PayPal account. On the off chance that both your wallet and your phone are taken, you may still make payments for things like hotel rooms or concert tickets using a public computer.
The use of money belts is archaic, uncomfortable, and, to tell the truth, not very effective at the task for which they were designed. They will not protect your belongings from pickpockets, nor will they conceal your money in any way.
Get rid of your money belt and replace it with a more comprehensive travel system consisting of travel trousers, digital cash, and cards and bank accounts like Charles Schwab that do not charge fees for using ATMs. It’s over for the money belt. Let’s dance on its grave.