Travel Money Belts and other Security Measures
Travel money belts are a great way to carry cash. It is true
that they are common now, and thieves know of them. I wouldn't
put all my money in the belt when traveling. Nonetheless, it
isn't easy to tell if your belt does have a hidden compartment,
and it isn't easy for a robber to get at it quickly. That makes
it a good way to carry some of your cash when you travel.
Losing Money In An Ecuadorian Disco
Overseas travel always gets my mind going with new ways to
hide money. I had this idea that putting a hundred dollars of
our cash on my leg, wrapped up in an ace bandage, would hide
it better than money belts. In fact, it worked fine for the first
ten days of our trip to Ecuador. Then, in the town of Banos,
we went dancing. The cash went dancing to its own tune, and in
the morning I discovered that I still had the ace bandage on
my leg, but not the money. No point in going to the bar to look
for it. In a place where most of the people are working for a
dollar per hour, I don't think the wad of bills sat on the floor
for long. The moral of the story, I guess, is wrap it up tight,
or don't go dancing.
Hiding Money And Documents
When you travel, there are options other than money belts
for hiding your cash and important papers. I suggest you use
several of them, rather than put everything in one place. Also,
don't carry too much cash. It is easy now, in all but the most
remote places, to access your money using an ATM. So carry enough
for a few days, or a week at most.
This money belt holds about ten bills.
You can buy pouches that hang under your shirt to carry your
passport and other papers. They are rather obvious if you are
wearing a light shirt, but then it is hard to thoroughly hide
a passport on your body in any case. At least it is not easily
accessible to pickpockets.
I cut a pocket out of an old pair of pants and used a safety
pin to attach it inside my travel pants. this has worked well
so far. It isn't noticeable, and it would be very difficult for
a thief to get at without taking off my pants. It is a bit inconvenient
when I am asked for my passport, and I have to reach into my
Hiding Money In Shoes
If the soles of your shoes are removable, put a twenty dollar
bill under each one for emergencies. This has worked well for
me, but I don't usually have expensive shoes that could themselves
be a target. In any case, it is just another place to hide cash,
and you should always have several different ones when traveling.
Other Places To Hide Money
Get creative. Roll up a twenty, and put it in the handle of
a disposable razor (don't throw it away by accident). The point
is simply that if you have your money in several places, and
none of them are too easy to find, it will take a persistent
thief to find all of your stash. At least we can make robbers
truly work for their living.
In your hotel room, hiding money requires some thought. There
are all sorts of places, of course, and you can ask any thief-
he'll know where the best places are. The best you can do is
to choose a safe hotel, and be careful, but hiding things will
at least reduce the temptation for crooked employees and lazy
Getting Robbed On The Bus
We knew better. Both me and my wife had a strong feeling that
we shouldn't get on the bus in Cuenca, but neither of us said
anything to the other. A taxi was two dollars , and the bus cost
only twenty-five cents. Ana sat down, but there was no room left
for me, so I was packed in with the other commuters standing
up. Almost immediately I noticed the drunk pushing his way through
the crowd, randomly going this way and that.
I knew something was up, and instinctively reached into my
pockets to check on my money. We had just visited the ATM that
morning, and the $170 cash in my pocket was the most we had carried
in one place during the entire trip. It was still there. The
old guy pushed against me like he was trying to find a place
to stand comfortably. I checked my pocket again.
A few minutes later some space opened up near Ana, and I went
over to her seat. I reached in my pocket again, and it was empty.
The other pocket too. I hadn't felt a thing. The old drunk was
still on the bus. I looked over at him.
"We've been robbed," I told Ana. "All of it."
I grabbed the drunk, who was no longer acting drunk at all. At
the next stop we got off, dragging the thief with us. A police
officer appeared, and a crowd formed. The man was very sober
now, pulling out his pockets and insisting again and again that
he was innocent. He said we could search him if we wanted. I
searched him, but understood now that his associate was long
gone with the money, probably off the bus at a previous stop.
Despite his begging, and the impossibility of getting the
money back, we had the officer take him to the police station
on his motorcycle while we followed in a taxi (Paying with a
twenty from under the sole of my shoe). We filed a complaint,
and he would spend the night in jail, then be released for a
lack of evidence in the morning. At least his finger prints were
on file now.
The lesson? Follow your intuition. Travel money belts would
probably prevent robberies like this also. Pockets that close
aren't a bad idea either, although I had a wallet taken from
a pocket that was zippered closed once, and didn't notice until
forty minutes later. It was fortunately only a decoy-wallet,
put there for just such an occasion, while my real wallet was
safely hidden elsewhere (another little travel security trick).
Also see Travel Safety Tips.