The Best Money Belts to Keep Your Cash Safe While You Travel
We know, money belts aren’t exactly a sexy new piece of gear, and the industry is fairly split on whether they’re a savvy security essential or the obsolete badge of a skittish amateur. Tortuga’s Packsmith blog is convinced they’re dead while Rick Steves says he never travels without one.
We’re willing to leave the choice in your hands. Whether you choose to go the money belt route or not, you still shouldn’t carry all your cash around at once. If you have a debit card with no overseas ATM fees, which you should if you’re a frequent traveler, just carry the cash you need and stop at banks to top up like you would at home. If you’re carrying more than your standard, split some of it up and stash it inside your locked suitcase or hotel safe, ideally hidden inside something inconspicuous like a sock or your toiletry kit. If you’re feeling extra sneaky, use an old pill bottle or empty deodorant. As for your passport, you’re better off locking it up in your hotel and carrying a photocopy out and about if you think you’ll need it.
Money belts can excel in some areas, especially if you’re changing locations and may be separated from your bags. An overnight bus or train, for example, is where a money belt can really come in handy so you can doze off with your passport still attached to your person.
Choose a color that’s close to your skin tone and a design that lies flat against your body to minimize visibility. Tuck it as close to your body as you can, without any straps flapping around outside your clothes to give away its location. Most of the market hasn’t evolved too far past the classic beige pouch your mom used to insist join you on your family vacations, but we found a few that you could still want to wear in public, along with some updated options.
Eagle Creek Undercover Money Belt
Eagle Creek Undercover Silk Money Belt
Travel blogger Lia Garcia of Practical Wanderlust recommends the Eagle Creek Undercover in silk, her husband’s personal travel choice and also one of REI’s best sellers in this category. “It's important to use a breathable, skin-friendly natural textile like silk rather than something inexpensive like polyester or nylon, because a non-breathable pouch sitting on your sweaty skin is a recipe for irritation and rashes,” she noted.
To buy: amazon.com, $25 (originally $30)
Peak Gear Travel Money Belt with RFID Block
Stashbandz Unisex Travel Money Belt
Carrie Pasquarello, CEO of Global Secure Resources Inc., uses Stashbandz on her travels. The spandex belt has zipper and foldover pockets all the way around and clings on tightly. “I have used this product under and over my clothing and also have used it like a scarf as well,” she says. “I like the versatility.”
To buy: amazon.com, $23
Amazon Basics RFID Travel Money Belt
Amazon makes its own RFID-blocking belt with a mesh panel in back for breathability.
To buy: amazon.com, $10 (originally $12)
Lewis N. Clark RFID Blocking Money Belt Travel Pouch
If you don’t want the full belt, a stealth single pocket like this Lewis N. Clark model can be attached to a belt loop and flipped over to hide inside your waistband.
To buy: amazon.com, $12
Eagle Creek Travel Gear Silk Undercover Bra Stash
Garcia herself prefers to utilize a small clip-on bra pocket for her cards and cash. “You don't have to do that awkward reaching-up-under-your-dress thing like you do with a money belt,” she says. “It's so discreet I've definitely caught myself sleeping in it — it's even made it through airport security with me a few times.”
To buy: amazon.com, $12 (originally $14)
Secret Pants Pockets: Aviator Jeans
If you don’t want to carry anything extra, try out a pair of pants with secret pockets. Aviator makes jeans designed for travel complete with a stealthy zippered interior back pocket, and turns the previously useless tiny change pocket into a fifth pocket to stash your phone close to your body.
Waypoint Goods Travel Scarf With Hidden Zipper Pocket
Scarves are both a great way to break up a repetitive travel wardrobe and to stash your stuff. Sarah Wilson of The Wandering Rumpus is a Waypoint devotee, praising both their artistic designs and the way they allow travelers to stay hands-free, with a small interior zippered pouch with enough space for a phone, passport, keys, and cards.
To buy: amazon.com, $40
If you’d prefer to just carry a bag but want some extra security touches, Travelon is the way to go. Their bags are designed with slash-resistant mesh body panels and shoulder straps, along with internal RFID-blocking pockets and locking zippers so they won’t just slide open. A cross-body strap adds an extra layer of security, since it’s harder to pull off your shoulder. The range of sizes and designs means you’re almost certain to find something that matches all your outfits.