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Keep your money safe while backpacking

VAWN HIMMELSBACH, Chic Savvy Travels VAWN HIMMELSBACH, Chic Savvy Travels

Sure, a moneybelt isn’t the most comfortable item to wear around your waist, under your pants. When it’s stuffed with foreign currency, credit cards and your passport, it can give you the appearance of a beer gut or pregnant belly. And if you’re traveling in a hot, humid climate, having it stick to your sweaty skin under a layer of clothing is even more unpleasant.

Photo Credit: iStock

Despite the fact I’m not a big fan of wearing one, I always bring a moneybelt with me on my travels. It’s particularly handy when you’re in transit on a crowded train or bus, or when you’re staying in a rather sketchy hostel or guesthouse.

I’m happy to report I’ve never been mugged — knock on wood. I know there are some stealthy thieves out there, but I’d like to think if someone stuck their hands down the front of my pants in an effort to get at my moneybelt, I’d notice.

However, I also carry a purse with a bit of cash, since you don’t want to be digging around in your moneybelt to buy a coffee. If I were to get mugged, I’d gladly hand over my purse, knowing that my passport was safely stashed away. Canadian Tire money also makes for a great decoy.

If my moneybelt were to get stolen, I keep an emergency stash hidden away somewhere else (say, in a sock), as well as photocopies (in my backpack) and scans (on web-based email) of important documents. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but when traveling in Vietnam a few years ago, each hotel would ask to keep my passport so they could register me with the local authorities. I gave them a photocopy instead, saying I needed my passport to exchange money.

Another tip I’ve learned: Once, while climbing Mayan temples on a sweltering day in Guatemala, I got so sweaty that all the stamps in my passport (which was in my cotton moneybelt) smeared into indistinguishable blots of ink. And it was impossible to dry out my passport for the duration of my time in the jungle — it was just too humid.

Now I use plastic zipper sandwich bags (the snack-size ones are the perfect size for cash and credit cards) to keep everything dry inside my moneybelt. My credit card may still warp a bit in the heat, but it still works.

Of course, no one likes to look like they have a beer gut when they’re traveling — but sometimes you have to forgo vanity for the sake of staying safe on the road.

Got any tips for safely stashing your cash? Send us a comment, or Tweet us @ChicTravels!

Copyright @ 2011 Chic Savvy Travels

Date Added: October 16, 2011 | Comments (3)


When we went to France and Italy on our honeymoon, I wanted a safe way to carry my camera equipment and I discovered Pacsafe. The bag I have has metal meshing throughout (so no one could cut the bottom of my bag and have everything fall out) and a slash-proof strap. As well, the zippers also click into a latch – so if anyone was going to try to get into that bag, I’d be very aware. Best investment I’ve ever made.

Comment by Kate B — October 16, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

Great tip! I, too, am a fan of the Pacsafe — it’s fantastic. Definitely eased my mind while sleeping on overnight trains and buses in Asia, knowing someone literally couldn’t slash my bag. Definitely a worthwhile investment, especially if you have expensive camera gear…

Comment by VAWN HIMMELSBACH, Chic Savvy Travels — October 17, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

cool! I want one!!

Comment by TANYA ENBERG, Chic Savvy Travels — October 27, 2011 @ 9:27 am

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