How to travel safely with cash is one of the most important challenges all travelers must master. You want just enough on you to be safe at all times, but not enough to make you a target for criminals. Although we live in an increasingly card-friendly world, there are still many very good reasons to carry cash when you travel. Carrying cash, and keeping it on your person, has important benefits cards cannot accomplish. For example:

  • Depending on the country or region, small shops, taxis, or public transport cannot be paid for with cards
  • Cash can be used even in the event of a power outage or computer problem
  • Depending on your bank, you may encounter daily limits or security authorizations which temporarily lock your card and prevent you from using it
  • Cash is usually the best, and sometimes the only, way to give tips, buy items from street vendors, show appreciation for buskers or innumerable other small transactions.
  • Cash is a good way to track and manage budgets and make sure you don’t overspend

For these reasons, it’s always a good idea to have at least some cash on you when you travel.

However, traveling with cash also poses additional risks. Some thieves and hustlers specifically target travelers because they expect that they will be carrying cash, and wallets and purses can accidentally be misplaced or lost to snatchers and pickpockets. Unlike digital currency, when cash is gone, it is gone, and being far from home without money can be an unpleasant situation.

Here are our top tips for how to travel safely with cash.

Use a Money Belt

A money belt is a belt with a concealed pouch where you can carry cash and/or your most important documents, like your passport. Some money belts are literally belts, with zippered compartments on the inside, which look exactly like traditional belts on the outside, and are worn just like any other belt. Some money belts are waist bands with pockets attached, that are designed to go around your waist but under your clothes. Fitted properly and worn properly, they are difficult to see, and a secure way to keep your most essential items on you at all times.

Money belts are more discrete than fanny packs, and keep your money close without drawing the attention of thieves and pickpockets. Also, a pickpocket will find it difficult to discretely rummage around inside your clothes to steal your money without your knowledge. However, in some countries, thieves will hold up tourists and search them for a money belt, because they have become such popular and widely known travel accessories.

Top Money Belt Picks on Amazon

Bestseller No. 1
Stashbandz Unisex Running Belt Waist Pack, Insulin Pump Belt, Travel Money Belt, Fanny Pack and, Secure Items with 3 Large Security Pockets Plus One Zippered Pouch, Fits Phones Passport and More
  • SECURED 4 WIDE POCKETS. NEW CONCEALED ZIPPER POCKET ALL COLORS. Pockets load from the top with pickpocket proof fold over locking flap to secure items. StashBandz Unisex Workout - Travel Belt Fits iPhones and any size cell phone vertical or horizontal passport holder ID money keys flask holder glasses travel wallet insulin pump holder and more.
  • MADE IN AMERICA TOP QUALITY. All-in-one fashion sporting and travel accessory. A fanny pack insulin pump belt running waist pack and money belt for safe travel. See far left photo for best size
  • DOUBLE THE WIDTH of other running or sport waist packs. Tubular stretch Spandex hip belt 6 inches high with four 8 inch wide pockets. Vertical stretch 7 inches high to accommodate all X-large cell phones and smartphones in your belt bag. Has one zipper pouch.
  • HIGHEST QUALITY SPANDEX FABRIC soft, stays put and durable. Material soaks up sweat, keeps the body cool.  Stays put for runners with no chafing or bouncing. Non-bulky slimming comfort hides a muffin top. Discreet small logo.
  • SLIM DESIGN FOR PERFORMANCE & SECURITY Sport performance fabric keeps you dry and cool.  4 separate wide pockets 6" X 8" (two front, two back). One big zipper pocket 6" x 8" (front).
Bestseller No. 2
Amazon Basics RFID Travel Waist Belt Fanny Pack - Khaki
2,059 Reviews
Amazon Basics RFID Travel Waist Belt Fanny Pack - Khaki
  • Travel money belt keeps your cash, receipts, and important documents organized and secure
  • RFID blocking material protects against unwanted scans
  • 2 zippered compartments with inner pockets to organize items
  • Comfortable waist strap can be adjusted in length for a perfect fit
  • Made of durable nylon ripstop in front and breathable mesh panel in back
Bestseller No. 3
Running Belt Fanny Pack Phone Holder for women men,Fitness Workout Waist Pouch Bag for Exercise Gym Walking,Travel Money Jogging Pocket Belt Runners Gift Accessories Gear for iPhone 11 8 7 Plus XS XR
529 Reviews
Running Belt Fanny Pack Phone Holder for women men,Fitness Workout Waist Pouch Bag for Exercise Gym Walking,Travel Money Jogging Pocket Belt Runners Gift Accessories Gear for iPhone 11 8 7 Plus XS XR
  • 【Soft Material & Close-fitting】: The best reflective running waist belt for women & men you Can Find! AIKENDO Runners Belt is made of soft stretchable fabric, fits comfortably to your body and Doesn't move, bounce, ride up or chafe. It is super lightweight that you even forgetting.
  • 【Large Capacity】: AIKENDO neoprene workout phone holder comes with 3 zipper pockets which is convenient for carrying everything, you can carry Smartphones, Key, Cards, Earphone, Passport.
  • 【Fits Most Waist】: AIKENDO running waist pouch fits waist sizes from 27" to 41" with adjustable elastic strap, you don't need to search for the right size of running waistband anymore.
  • 【Water Resistant & Reflective】: Water resistant material protect your items safe and dry from sweat and almost any weather condition ( (not fully waterproof). Reflective logo provide you with extra protection during evening runs.
  • 【Great Gifts Ideas】: Perfect gift presents for your family, friends, Men, Women in birthday, Thanks-giving day, Christmas and other festivals.
SaleBestseller No. 4
E Tronic Edge Running Belts : Best Comfortable Running Belts That Fit All Phone Models and Fit All Waist Sizes. for Running, Hiking, Workouts, Cycling, Travelling Money Belt & More, Black
  • [ MAXIMUM COMFORT ] Introducing the Sport-Fit running belt, the first of its kind bringing comfort to your workout using a lightweight but yet durable material. Don't waste your time with other waist packs and their five or six different sizes that result in you sending the wrong size back and awaiting the replacement. Our new Sport-Fit running belt is a one size fits all waist belt, providing a perfect fit for your body while you exercise effortlessly as if its not even there.
  • [ FITS ALL PHONES ] After hearing the outcry of many Amazon customers struggling to find a belt for exercising that will carry their phone no matter style, we put our pens to the drawing board and designed a running waist belt made of a soft material that allows for plus sized phones to fit perfectly but yet still provide a safe place for smaller models. We have tested the largest models from Apple, Samsung, and many other brands to make sure that you wont be returning this belt.
  • [ E Tronic Edge Approved ] Great teen girl gifts or mom gifts! It is great for all ages of Boys, Girls, Adults, Kids, Seniors, Men, Women and Teens. Next time you are looking for Gift Ideas & Stocking Stuffers for her or him then this is a Present they will be happy with. You can even choose gift wrapping at checkout. Get them the Present they’ll love for years to come.
  • [ HIGH QUALITY ZIPPER ] Be very careful when buying fanny packs on Amazon, one common denominator we've seen is poorly crafted zippers. When your zipper breaks it renders the belt useless and you might as well just throw it away. Along with dependable and rip-proof stitching, the Sport-Fit belt for running has you covered, offering a strong and durable zipper. Keep your phone protected and in place at all times while exercising!
  • [ STOP GAMBLING ] Don't wait until the product arrives to realize it doesn't fit. Since the Sport-Fit has an adjustable strap and is made out of flexible yet durable neoprene, it can fit a 22" waist all the way to a 46" waist. On top of that, the pocket in the waist belt is flexible enough to hold plus sized phones while being able to hold smaller phones securely as well. Plus! Our new key security system offers a clip and pocket to hold them safely while on your run.
Bestseller No. 5
AVANTO Slim Fit Running Belt with zippered Wrist Wallet, Phone Holder For Running, Passport holder, Travel Money Belt, Waist and Fanny Pack for Women and Men, Feels Like Second Skin (Black, L)
127 Reviews
AVANTO Slim Fit Running Belt with zippered Wrist Wallet, Phone Holder For Running, Passport holder, Travel Money Belt, Waist and Fanny Pack for Women and Men, Feels Like Second Skin (Black, L)
  • KEEP YOUR VALUABLES SAFE 1. put phone and passport in belt front pockets, attach keys in belt key holder 2. put coins and cards in wrist wallet and use for electronic payments
  • SUPER COMFORTABLE, elastic material makes the belt feel like a second skin. No zippers in the belt that break, get stuck or scratch your phone. No buckles that chafe when in an airplane, running or dancing
  • NO BOUNCING - superior for running and workout as a phone holder, the weight spreads out around your hips and fits tight. Reflective logo for extra safety. The correct size is important. Please measure your waist and see the size chart.
  • MATERIAL TESTED FOR HARMFUL SUBSTANCES, meets human-ecological requirements of the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX
  • WE GIVE 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE from our small family business. Wrong size? No worries, just contact our superior customer service via Amazon. GET YOURS NOW!
Bestseller No. 6
ANJ Outdoors Super Slim Water Resistant Money Belt, Running Belt for Women and Men, Expandable Phone Belt to Hold Cell Phones, Cards, and Money. Ideal Waist Bag Waist Pack for Travel, Sports and Yoga
134 Reviews
ANJ Outdoors Super Slim Water Resistant Money Belt, Running Belt for Women and Men, Expandable Phone Belt to Hold Cell Phones, Cards, and Money. Ideal Waist Bag Waist Pack for Travel, Sports and Yoga
  • THE THINNEST AND LIGHTEST MONEY HOLDER / PHONE HOLDER FOR RUNNING OR TRAVEL: If you are looking for a running gear or a money belt next to the skin to hold your phone and essentials, then no need to look further. This uniquely designed cell phone belt weighs mere 2 Oz. at 0.04" thickness. It is so thin and so light that you almost do not feel it. At the same time, the layer of Spandex material makes it elastic and comfortable with phone running, a great workout belt and waist bag.
  • LARGE SPACE WAIST PACK FOR ANY SMART PHONES: Even with so much focus on thinness and lightness, this premium runners belt did not cut any corner on space and capacity. The running pouch features a 7.5" x 4.5" inner space which comfortably holds any sized running phones, like iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus, Galaxy Note 8, Google Pixel 2 XL and etc. In addition, it has a 2-layer design. You can add money, cards, IDs in the belt to make it a fanny pack.
  • WATER RESISTANT MATERIAL TO PREVENT PHONE/MONEY DAMAGE: For running phone holder, one major feature people are looking for is water resistant. We sweat when work out, or we may travel in the rain. We do not want our phone or money ruined by water. This waist pouch has special material applied inside the pouch so water won't get inside to damage the phone.
  • UNIVERSAL SIZE FOR WOMEN AND MEN: The fitness belt can fit waist sizes from 24" to 46", a truly universal sized running pouch for you to find the best fit.
  • REFLECTIVE STRIP FOR SAFETY AND STYLISH: Considering we are so busy every day, the running pouch added reflective strips on the top and both sides of the pouch, both practical and stylish!!

Keep Your Cards and Cash Separate

If you are traveling to areas with markets, small shops and lots of potential for theft, keep cash in a totally separate wallet or pouch than your cards. When I’m at a flea market, I only take out my cash and my cards are buried under multiple zippers. This way, I can take out cash to pay for that trinket, scarf, street food or tuk-tuk ride, but I only use my cards inside establishments like hotels or restaurants. I keep my cash in a really ugly wallet, not a fancy leather anything. If I lose $50-$100 in cash, it sucks, but won’t break me. If I lose a wallet full of credit cards while overseas? That’s a nightmare I can live without.

Divide Your Money

The downside of a money belt is many travelers begin rummaging around in their clothes when they need to pay for something. Not only is it physically inconvenient, but it lets everyone around you know that you are wearing a money belt. Traveling safely with cash, money belt or not, means dividing your money and concealing the presence of a money belt.

For example, if you have several days’ worth of cash with you, keep most of it in your hotel safe. Keep a larger amount (say, $100) in a money belt, or in a shoe, or other discrete place on your person. And keep $20 in your wallet, purse, or pocketbook as normal, to pay for your smaller transactions as they occur. If you need to take money from your belt and put it in your wallet, do so in a restroom or other private place where no one can see.

Note on hotel safes: If there is a safe in your hotel room, test it by opening it, closing it, locking it, and unlocking it again before you put anything of value inside. Try a few different ways to open it without unlocking it. Some travelers have found, to their dismay, their hotel safe can easily be opened even when locked, and a defective hotel safe can be a huge problem. If your hotel room does not have a safe, do not leave large amounts of cash in your room. While most hotel staff are honorable people who would not steal from you, it can and does happen. And most hotels do not protect guests from theft.

There are many advantages to dividing your money:

  • Keeping most of your money in a safe helps you stay on a daily budget and not overspend
  • It keeps small amounts of cash quick and handy for tips, postcards, bus fare, etc., without requiring slow and embarrassing rummaging around in a money belt
  • It keeps your money belt discrete, so people don’t know you are wearing it
  • If you open your wallet and people can see inside, it doesn’t look like you are carrying large amounts of cash, which makes you less of a target
  • It gives you a convenient place to put and use small change which you may need over the course of the day
  • Dividing your money also reduces your risk. If you are pick-pocketed or ripped off, there is a greater chance they will get some, but not all, of your cash

Use a Decoy Wallet to Hide Cash While Travelling

Use a decoy wallet. If you are in a particularly crime-prone place, it’s smart to carry a decoy wallet or pocketbook. If anyone tries to rob you, give them the decoy, and they may leave without getting your real cash supply, which is still secured somewhere else safely on your person.

If you are going to create a decoy wallet, make it persuasive. Don’t just get a cheap wallet and put a couple bucks cash in it. Add one or two old, cancelled credit cards, or expired gift cards, a few business cards, a condom… make sure it looks like a “real” wallet on quick inspection, or you won’t fool your thief.

Conclusion

Cash is still the universal language, where ever you may go, but it’s important to keep it safe and keep yourself safe while you travel. Follow these tips to protect yourself and prevent travel disasters.

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