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
RFID Blocking Travel Wallet - Money Belt & Passport Holder, Waist Pack for Women Men - Black
  • ✅Durable Materials - We use the finest material for our waist pouch belts, Never worry about it tearing or breaking while traveling. Machine washable, Wash in warm water, hang dry or use dryer on low setting.
  • ✅Hidden & Convenient - Supper slim Money belt with Two zippered compartments, three perfect-fit individual pockets, secure solution to keep your peronal ID, credit cards, passports, money, smart phones and other valuables safely hidden under clothes.
  • ✅Superior Quality - Durable and lightweight nylon ripstop, resists water, odors, shrinking, adjustable strap, soft breathable padded mesh backside make it more than comfortable to wear, prevent build up of sweat and moisture.
  • ✅Slim Lightweight & Hidden Security - Keep your valuables away from the sight and reach of thieves and incredibly convenient to carry with you when travelling. Grab yours now and rest assured you are travelling with safety!
  • ✅100% Satisfaction Guarantee - If for any reason you are not satisfied with our product you will receive a full refund no questions asked and hassle free.
Bestseller No. 2
Stashbandz Unisex Running Belt Waist Pack, Travel Money Belt, Fanny Pack, 3 Large Security Pockets Plus 1 Zippered Pocket Fits Phones Passport and More, Extra Wide Spandex, USA Made
  • 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 hidden zipper pouch.
  • HIGHEST QUALITY FABRIC soft but durable. Moisture wicking soaks up sweat keeps the body cool phones bacteria free. Stays put for runners with no chafing or bouncing. Non-bulky slimming comfort hides a muffin top. Discreet small logo.
  • WICKING, ANTI-BACTERIA MAX-DRY SPANDEX FABRIC Stays put for runners and active users with no rubbing, chafing, or bouncing. USA made, USA Patent, USA designed, USA shipped and USA warranty.
Bestseller No. 3
Travel Security Belt - Hidden Money Belt, Anti Theft Travel Belt TSA Approved
736 Reviews
Travel Security Belt - Hidden Money Belt, Anti Theft Travel Belt TSA Approved
  • WHY IS THIS TRAVEL BELT UNIQUE? Unlike similar products, the Zero Grid Travel Security Belt is TSA approved and travel-friendly and features a new and improved buckle design with Travel Safety Lock Technology, ensuring the buckle, when closed, remains securely fastened.
  • KEEP YOUR CASH SAFE FROM PICKPOCKETS - Equipped with an easy-to-use hidden zippered security pouch. This hidden money belt for travel conceals spare currency, a passport COPY, and small travel accessories from thieves. Fully adjustable anti-theft belt for Men and Women, fits waist sizes 26” - 42”. DOES NOT FIT CREDIT CARDS OR PASSPORTS.
  • BONUS #1** - EXCLUSIVE $300 TRIP ASSURANCE: In the event items are stolen from this travel security belt, we will reimburse you up to $300. This hidden travel wallet gives you complete Peace of Mind for your upcoming Trip!
  • BONUS #2 ** GLOBAL LOST & FOUND TAGS - Each Zero Grid Travel Money Belt includes 2 Recovery Tags from ReturnMe, the world’s largest lost & found company. Stick these on your phone, laptop, camera, passport, etc and their 24/7 call center will help return lost items from anywhere in the world. By purchasing this pickpocket proof wallet from Zero Grid, this service is FREE for life.
  • GIFTABLE! Makes a Great Gift for loved ones who travel or for everyday use.
Bestseller No. 4
Travel Money Belt with RFID Block - Theft Protection and Global Recovery Tags (Beige)
  • ULTIMATE COMFORT – Light, comfortable and slim this belt is the perfect travel accessory whether you are an occasional airport traveler or an avid backpacker. Our unique Comfort Soft strap adjusts snug around the waist to fit both men and women. Two compartments and pockets inside the hidden pouch fit multiple US passports and keeps credit cards organized. Our moisture-wick backing will keep the pouch cool against your skin, especially useful for all day use or in warm climates.
  • INVEST IN QUALITY – Don’t buy a cheap money belt and risk getting stuck while travelling. We offer Premium YKK Zippers (the highest quality on the market), 210D water-resistant nylon, premium stitching and a double-release safety buckle. We did not skimp on materials so you’ll never have to worry about reliability.
  • INCLUDES THEFT INSURANCE AND LIFETIME RECOVERY SERVICE FOR LOST ITEMS - $250 Theft Insurance to reimburse you if items are stolen. We’ve also partnered with ReturnMe, the world’s largest lost & found company, to give you 2 FREE Global Recovery Decals ($8 value). Stick on your phone, passport, camera, etc. and their 24/7 call center will help return lost items from anywhere in the world.
  • NO SEPARATE RFID SLEEVES NEEDED – Protect yourself from electronic pickpockets. Our RFID Block Protection is built right into the fabric of the money belt. Anything you put in the belt will be protected against electronic theft. RFID sleeves look fancy but are a pain to fuss with.
  • EXPERIENCE THE DIFFERENCE - We're not happy, unless you are! As a USA-BASED company, our products are DESIGNED AND TESTED by avid travelers who understand the need for the best quality and dependability.
Bestseller No. 5
Slim Running Belt Fanny Pack,Waist Pack Bag for Hiking Fitness Cycling Workout Gym,Reflective Runners Belt Jogging Pocket Belt for iPhone XS,XR,7 8 Plus,Travelling Money Phone Holder for Running
  • 【Soft Material & Form fitting】: The best Outdoor Running Belt You Can Find! AIKENDO Running Waist Belt is made of soft fabric, so the runners belt is very soft and breathable, fits comfortably to your body and Doesn't move, jiggle, bounce, ride up or chafe. Our Jogging Belt Phone Holder have more durable zipper than other brand, thousands of tests, keep smooth.
  • 【Adjustable, Fits All Sizes】: You don't need to search for the right size of running waist band anymore. AIKENDO running waist pack Fits waist sizes from 27" to 44" with elastic and adjustable strap, the Cell phone holder for running will fit to all of your family members.
  • 【Large Capacity】: Gym Waist Bag Main pouch size: 7.9 x 4 inches (WxH), you can carry Key, Cash, Cards, earphone, passport and small valuables. The athletic waist pack fits all smart phones with case, iPhone Xs Max XR X 8,7Plus, Samsung Galaxy S9+ S8 Note 9,SONY, LG etc. Go ahead, add it to your cart! You won’t regret it!
  • 【WATER RESISTANT】: Water resistant material protect your phone and other valuables safe and dry from sweat and almost any weather condition ( (not fully waterproof). The running fanny pack has a special HEADPHONE HOLE design, you can enjoy music all the time.
  • 【SAFER and MORE COMFORTABLE TRAVELING】: THREE POCKETS Roomy running fanny pack for your valuables, put it around your waist, cover with shirt or jacket. Perfect for storing your essentials during large crowd events.
Bestseller No. 6
AmazonBasics 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

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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