How to Travel Safely with Cash
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How to Travel Safely with Cash

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 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. If you’ve never been island hopping in Greece when Citi Bank cancels your card over "fraud" and you will be on your way to Africa in 12 days without an address good for more than 10 days, then you don’t know how awful these companies can be to travelers!
  • 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 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
MoKo Secure Travel Money Belt, Undercover Hidden RFID Blocking Travel Wallet, Anti-Theft Passport Wallets for Men & Women, Black
985 Reviews
MoKo Secure Travel Money Belt, Undercover Hidden RFID Blocking Travel Wallet, Anti-Theft Passport Wallets for Men & Women, Black
  • 【HIDDEN & SECURE】-With 3 perfect-fit individuals pockets, the slim design ensures our belts discreet and invisible to others when worn under clothes. A solution to keep your cash, cellphone, keys and other valuables safely and avoid pick-pocketing.
  • 【ULTIMATE COMFORT】-Designed from skin-friendly material, the travel money belt is breathable to keep dry. Super lightweight that adds minimum bulk and weight, it is comfortable to wear.
  • 【SUPERIOR QUALITY】- Made from 210D rip-stop water-resistant nylon, the fanny pack and elastic straps are sturdy and not easy to tear. Using durable material, the inner pockets burst difficultly, and the buckle is easy to close and hard to broke.
  • 【RFID BLOCKING】- MoKo waist pack blocks all RFID transmissions and eliminates the chances of being scammed! To protect your sensitive private information located inside the chip of your ID card, credit cards and passport.
  • 【ADJUSTABLE ELASTIC STRAP】The elastic waist strap can be adjusted to perfectly fit waist circumference 24" to 50" and would not slide up and down, fixing the height you want perfectly. Also great for other occasions as waist bag or fanny pack.
Bestseller No. 2
StashBandz Unisex Travel Money Belt, Running Belt, Fanny and Waist Pack, 4 Large Security Pockets and Zipper, Fits All Size Phones Passport and More
  • Running Belt with 4 Pockets: Our workout phone holder fits any size phone as you exercise, and carries multiple passports, ID, cash, keys, cards, flask, glasses, Travel Wallet, Insulin Pump Holder, ice packs, ear buds, and more inside 4 big pockets with a large zipper compartment located in front. See image #6 to find your correct size.
  • Double the width of other Fanny Packs and Money Belts, our Waist Pack for men and women is constructed with 2 large pockets in the front and 2 in the back, each pocket 6” high x 8” wide; the fabric stretches vertically to 7-inches high to accommodate medical devices and Insulin Pumps.
  • Made in the USA with the highest quality sport technology fabric and discreet logo: Our Running Waist Pack is made of top grade spandex that stretches and stays in place even with an intense work out; our custom designed Travel Belt is soft and comfortable with no bounce for lasting wear over the years.
  • Slim Waist Pack with no annoying buckles or straps: Our Fashionable Fanny Pack is designed flat and tubular, non-bulky even when carrying items; undetectable it wears under clothes as you travel or over clothes during sports as the wide construction prevents muffin tops by stepping into the belt and pull up to hips.
  • Pickpocket proof, an ideal Travel Money Belt: Pockets load from the top so valuables don’t fall out, separate roomy compartments make it easy to store and retrieve items. Fold-over flap hides the zipper and all pocket openings to keep your money, passport, phone, and extra supplies secured for new adventures.
Bestseller No. 3
Travel Money Belt for Men Women, RFID Blocking Concealed Waist Wallet Pouch Under Clothes Passport Holder Antitheft Waist Stash Bag for Travelling, Bonus 10 RFID Credit Card Sleeves, Beige
1,330 Reviews
Travel Money Belt for Men Women, RFID Blocking Concealed Waist Wallet Pouch Under Clothes Passport Holder Antitheft Waist Stash Bag for Travelling, Bonus 10 RFID Credit Card Sleeves, Beige
  • 【FULL PROTECTION WITH RFID TECHNOLOGY】The money belt for travel is designed with RFID Blocking and anti-theft technology which features 3 built-in layers of RFID blocking linings, shielding you from electronic pickpockets and identity thefts. Say no to unwanted scan! Plus, we offer 10 rfid blocking credit card sleeves as bonus coming with every money belt. Enjoy your travel under protection of LANNEY travel money belt!
  • 【HIDDEN SECURITY AND MAXIMUM COMFORT】The money belt makes your hands free in your travel, yet it is low profile and invisible to theft. Travel money belt thin and slim design makes it easy to conceal under clothes or inside your pants. And the front buckle prevents the secure money belt from being snapped open by unwanted hands. Our undercover waist wallet is extremely comfortable to wear. LANNEY money belt lets you focus on happy trip with ultimate peace of mind.
  • 【MULTIPLE COMPARTMENTS AND ERGONOMIC CAPACITY】Travel money belt is constructed with 2 spacious pockets with safe zippers. The larger pocket has 3 sections for convenient organization. Multiple compartments can function as passport holder, credit card holder and fit for phones, cash, boarding passes, etc. The smaller pocket can be used to stash keys, and other small items. The waist money belt with hidden rear pocket is for maximum security protection. Organizing your belongings is so easy!
  • 【SUPERIOR QUALITY AND SKIN FRIENDLY】RFID blocking money belt waist pack features with waterproof ripstop nylon, top-quality zippers, and reinforced double stitching. The finest travel wallet will never break! Besides, durable travel waist pouch has breathable mesh back side which will prevent heat and moisture, possessing excellent all-day comfort for you skin. No irritation at all!
  • 【IDEAL GIFT AND RISK-FREE PURCHASE】The money belt elastic waist band can be adjusted to perfectly fit waist circumference 24" to 50". Suitable for men, women or even kids when traveling, walking or running. LANNY rfid waist bag is ideal gift for your families or friends who love travelling. If you are not satisfied with the travel pouch belt, just contact us and we will offer refund or a free replacement as you prefer. You never lose it.
Bestseller No. 4
DAITET Money Belt - Passport Holder Secure Hidden Travel Wallet with RFID Blocking, Undercover Fanny Pack (Black)
2,393 Reviews
DAITET Money Belt - Passport Holder Secure Hidden Travel Wallet with RFID Blocking, Undercover Fanny Pack (Black)
  • MONEY BELT for TRAVEL: Anti-theft RFID Blocking material, effectively prevent your personal information from being scanned (credit card, passport, personal ID, cash, etc.) 1inch adjustable elastic strap, two metal zippers and pockets! Lined with two pockets for credit cards or coins, and a metal loop for keys
  • SLIM & HIDEN TRAVEL FANNY PACK:Now you have enough place to store and hide your belongings like your IPhone, Keys, Money, Credit cards, Documents, Passport and more.
  • OESN'T MOVE: Widened belt,stronger,more durable;Strap size 23" - 43" (Max Stretch 55"),adjustable elastic waist belt can be expanded to the desired length to fit your waist.
  • WEAR COMFORTABLY:Padded with breathable cushion,Back of the pouch which sits close to the body ,made from very soft mesh, it draws sweat away from the skin easily.
  • SECURITY & Water Resistant:Design of thinness and lightweight, RFID blocking safeguards.Even if you wear thin clothes, pickpockets and thieves is difficult to find.
Bestseller No. 5
Amazon Basics RFID Travel Waist Belt Fanny Pack - Khaki
2,487 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. 6
Osprey Stealth Wallet, Desert Tan
42 Reviews
Osprey Stealth Wallet, Desert Tan
  • RFID Protection
  • Slim profile for discreet carry
  • Made from soft touch dobby
  • Country Of Origin : Viet Nam

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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