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Travel Money Belts and other Security Measures

Travel money belts are a great way to carry cash. It is true that they are common now, and thieves know of them. I wouldn't put all my money in the belt when traveling. Nonetheless, it isn't easy to tell if your belt does have a hidden compartment, and it isn't easy for a robber to get at it quickly. That makes it a good way to carry some of your cash when you travel.

Losing Money In An Ecuadorian Disco

Overseas travel always gets my mind going with new ways to hide money. I had this idea that putting a hundred dollars of our cash on my leg, wrapped up in an ace bandage, would hide it better than money belts. In fact, it worked fine for the first ten days of our trip to Ecuador. Then, in the town of Banos, we went dancing. The cash went dancing to its own tune, and in the morning I discovered that I still had the ace bandage on my leg, but not the money. No point in going to the bar to look for it. In a place where most of the people are working for a dollar per hour, I don't think the wad of bills sat on the floor for long. The moral of the story, I guess, is wrap it up tight, or don't go dancing.

Hiding Money And Documents

When you travel, there are options other than money belts for hiding your cash and important papers. I suggest you use several of them, rather than put everything in one place. Also, don't carry too much cash. It is easy now, in all but the most remote places, to access your money using an ATM. So carry enough for a few days, or a week at most.


This money belt holds about ten bills.

Security Pouches

You can buy pouches that hang under your shirt to carry your passport and other papers. They are rather obvious if you are wearing a light shirt, but then it is hard to thoroughly hide a passport on your body in any case. At least it is not easily accessible to pickpockets.

Hidden Pockets

I cut a pocket out of an old pair of pants and used a safety pin to attach it inside my travel pants. this has worked well so far. It isn't noticeable, and it would be very difficult for a thief to get at without taking off my pants. It is a bit inconvenient when I am asked for my passport, and I have to reach into my pants.

Hiding Money In Shoes

If the soles of your shoes are removable, put a twenty dollar bill under each one for emergencies. This has worked well for me, but I don't usually have expensive shoes that could themselves be a target. In any case, it is just another place to hide cash, and you should always have several different ones when traveling.

Other Places To Hide Money

Get creative. Roll up a twenty, and put it in the handle of a disposable razor (don't throw it away by accident). The point is simply that if you have your money in several places, and none of them are too easy to find, it will take a persistent thief to find all of your stash. At least we can make robbers truly work for their living.

Hotel Rooms

In your hotel room, hiding money requires some thought. There are all sorts of places, of course, and you can ask any thief- he'll know where the best places are. The best you can do is to choose a safe hotel, and be careful, but hiding things will at least reduce the temptation for crooked employees and lazy thieves.

Getting Robbed On The Bus

We knew better. Both me and my wife had a strong feeling that we shouldn't get on the bus in Cuenca, but neither of us said anything to the other. A taxi was two dollars , and the bus cost only twenty-five cents. Ana sat down, but there was no room left for me, so I was packed in with the other commuters standing up. Almost immediately I noticed the drunk pushing his way through the crowd, randomly going this way and that.

I knew something was up, and instinctively reached into my pockets to check on my money. We had just visited the ATM that morning, and the $170 cash in my pocket was the most we had carried in one place during the entire trip. It was still there. The old guy pushed against me like he was trying to find a place to stand comfortably. I checked my pocket again.

A few minutes later some space opened up near Ana, and I went over to her seat. I reached in my pocket again, and it was empty. The other pocket too. I hadn't felt a thing. The old drunk was still on the bus. I looked over at him.

"We've been robbed," I told Ana. "All of it." I grabbed the drunk, who was no longer acting drunk at all. At the next stop we got off, dragging the thief with us. A police officer appeared, and a crowd formed. The man was very sober now, pulling out his pockets and insisting again and again that he was innocent. He said we could search him if we wanted. I searched him, but understood now that his associate was long gone with the money, probably off the bus at a previous stop.

Despite his begging, and the impossibility of getting the money back, we had the officer take him to the police station on his motorcycle while we followed in a taxi (Paying with a twenty from under the sole of my shoe). We filed a complaint, and he would spend the night in jail, then be released for a lack of evidence in the morning. At least his finger prints were on file now.

The lesson? Follow your intuition. Travel money belts would probably prevent robberies like this also. Pockets that close aren't a bad idea either, although I had a wallet taken from a pocket that was zippered closed once, and didn't notice until forty minutes later. It was fortunately only a decoy-wallet, put there for just such an occasion, while my real wallet was safely hidden elsewhere (another little travel security trick).

Also see Travel Safety Tips.


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