Pickpocket-proof: Money Belts and Their Alternatives

Backpacks, back pockets, and open purses are easy targets for pick-pockets. Keeping your passport and funds secure in a money belt may save your vacation from an unfortunate run-in with a talented thief, but the traditional rogue-blocker is not your only option. Travelers posting in our Forums recently sounded off on the value of money belts, the alternatives that have worked for them, and their strategies for avoiding one of travel's oldest pitfalls.

Talk travel: Do you use a money belt when you travel?

The Security Standard: Money Belts

"I use a "traditional" money belt. I wear it with the pouch at the back, where it fits nicely into the curve below my waist. I wrap the contents in plastic. My longest trip was 10 months, and I wore it almost every day. After a long trip I feel undressed without it!" -- recommended by thursdaysd

Alternative #1: Wear a Waist Wallet

"I like an adapted money belt: I used this wallet from Magellans. I used the safety pin that came with it and another to pin the wallet horizontally to my pants' waist. A bonus to pinning: you don't worry about taking off a belt at security line and losing the wallet with it sliding down your pant leg!

Alternative #2: Confidently Carry a Purse

"I just use a regular purses in cities I'm very familiar with, like London. I also do that in the US including NYC. I feel that in places I know well, I look less like a tourist (without maps etc) and more like a local. In other foreign places where I only use a purse, I distribute my money & CC/ATM cards in various zippered pockets. I put a small amount of money in the wallet. In that way, even if someone steals my wallet, I still have some remaining money and ATM card to rely on." -- yk

Alternative #3: "Divide an Conquer" Your Funds

"Also very important is the Divide and Conquer rule:
Keep your small change (coins and a couple small bills) in an outer zippered compartment on your purse. Pull from here for bus fare, vending machines, etc.

Put about 1/3 day's worth of cash in your main compartment of your wallet. Put another 1/3 in a second compartment and the last 1/3 in a secure inside pocket of your purse. When you start pulling from your second 1/3, move the last 1/3 into your wallet. This means that no one will see more than 1/3 of your day's funds. If someone grabs your wallet (or you drop it), you've only lost 2/3 of a day's funds..." --- toedtoes

Alternative #4: Wear clothing with optimized pockets

"I like Brooks Brothers ladies jackets, because they were the first company I ever found that had inside pockets (some with buttons to close it) for ladies jackets. And no decent pickpocket would ever think a lady had an inside pocket." -- Surfergirl

"We went to Paris in May, where I used a TravelSmith jacket that has four inside zipper pockets, two outside zipper pockets, and two outside non-zipper pockets. I divided up the day's carrying-cash and credit/ATM cards among the various pockets and used a small tote to carry umbrella, guide books, etc." -- weindell

"I carried my passport in a zippered shirt pocket (safari shirt from Cabelas - two zippered chest pockets behind the traditional bellows chest pockets). Had no problems at all." -- jwhiteley718

Alternative #5: Hands-on Handbags

"In Europe and the US, I carry my money and credit cards in a small little purse that has both a wrist strap and a finger loop called a Yazzy Bag. Something else I've learned to do is carry things in the ordinary kind of cheap vinyl tote that European women take to the market to buy vegetables. I never carry true valuables (like a passport) in the tote, but I use it instead of a purse." -- zeppole

Alternative #6: Hold it in a Shoulder Holster

"I prefer to use a shoulder holster type, similar to the one here. I find it much more convenient than an around the waist money belt as middle age has provided me with as much girth in that area that I want!" -- ParisAmsterdam

Talk travel: Do you use a money belt when you travel?

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