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Safety is always a big concern for many travelers, no matter where your destination or how long your journey. In this post, I’ll share the best money belts and anti-theft accessories with you, but first: a little tale of stolen credit cards in Thailand…
The Best Money Belts and Anti-theft Travel Accessories
Even a seasoned traveler can easily become a victim by getting too comfortable. My husband had his credit cards stolen in Thailand a month ago and the thieves got away with $5,000 in purchases!
Fortunately, I’ve only been a victim of theft once in my more than seven years of travel, but to be honest, both our situations were completely preventable. All we had to do was lock our backpacks.
This doesn’t mean that all thefts are avoidable. However, the majority are due to thieves finding a convenient opportunity to steal your things. By taking a few precautions, you can avoid becoming a victim of opportunistic theft.
Travel insurance can sometimes help cover costs in case you are a victim, but it’s best to be cautious about your belongings, too.
Don’t worry–here’s a roundup of the best money belts and travel accessories to theft-proof your gear!
The Bra Stash
For the past five years, I’ve avoided money belts and have used a crochet money pouch. Worn as a necklace, my cash was always safely tucked away underneath my top. (Well, except for the one time when I left my pouch in my unlocked backpack and had $100 stolen. My careless fault.)
I’ve recently tried another product and I’m really excited about it! It’s called the Bra Stash.
It’s absolutely amazing and convenient–even more so than my trusty money pouch, because it also fits my credit cards. By wearing it under my arm instead of in front of my bra, it doesn’t bulge through my shirt or chafe my chest.
Although I prefer the silk fabric against my skin, the Braza Secret Stash is my top pick because it offers an adjustable closure, ensuring it would fit the width of a variety of bra straps.
Luggage That Locks
The best protection in your accommodation and during transportation rides can be as easy as locking your bag.
Check out my favorite travel backpack, the Osprey Farpoint 55 and this anti-theft suitcase by Pacsafe. If I hadn’t left my backpack locked in a hostel in Borneo, my valuables would have been gone when I returned from a scuba diving trip.
2016 Update: I now use the 22″ Osprey Ozone wheeled suitcase shown above and alternate it with the Delsey Helium Shadow for different trips. They’re both terrific bags and have built-in lockable zippers.
If you don’t like money belts, stashing your passport and money in your underwear may be a better option. While traveling in El Salvador, I found a boy short style underwear with large pockets on either side of the leg.
While it was a bit awkward to wear my passport over my upper leg, I only used it during transportation journeys in Central America when the probability of getting my daypack stolen seemed a bit higher.
For something similar, a popular style is this Travel Underwear with Secret Pockets that features zippered clothing with hidden pockets. The Travel Bra now offers comfortable pocket bras and underwear for women and men.
Alternately, you can also sew a pocket into your underwear.
Customize your anti-theft approach based on your destination. In places like Europe and Spain, where pickpockets are common, avoid clothing and bags with open pockets, giving wandering hands easy access to your things.
Coats and pants with zippers are a must!
Accessories with Secret Pockets
It’s possible to find clothing accessories with zippered pockets to stash a little cash. The above items are a couple of options I found online.
Anti-theft Travel Shoulder Bags
Some travelers may want to take extra precaution by using anti-theft travel shoulder bags. These specialized travel purses have safety features like lockable zippers, slash-proof materials, and sturdy straps to prevent thieves from breaking in.
Read more about the best anti-theft travel bags for women!
If you’d prefer a more traditional option, these are some of the best money belts to store your valuables. Choose what suits you best and take fabric into consideration when purchasing.
Whatever you do, DO NOT WEAR THE MONEY BELT OUTSIDE OF YOUR CLOTHING.
I can’t believe how many travelers I see wearing it on the outside, advertising to thieves exactly where to find their cash. Please don’t make that mistake. It’s meant to be worn hidden under your clothing.
Additional Anti-theft Accessories
There are many variations to anti-theft accessories, as you can see above. From neck pouches to attachments for your belt loop, there’s something to meet everyone’s needs.
In fact, the best option for you may be a combination of items, like a bra stash to store your credit cards and cash for everyday use, a neck pouch or pocket underwear to store your passport on transit days, and a lockable suitcase to ensure your belongings are secure inside your hotel or hostel room.
TRAVEL SAFETY TIPS
- Don’t forget travel insurance! Keep all your receipts because they’ll be necessary for insurance claims, along with a police report.
- Avoid sightseeing with your passport and all your money in your daypack or travel purse.
- Don’t go to big festivals and events with your passport and large amounts of money.
- Avoid leaving your passport and money unlocked in your hotel, hostel, or guesthouse.
- Use lockers provided by your accommodation (don’t forget one of the top 10 essentials on your backpacking checklist: travel locks).
- Try to only keep all your valuables on you when in transit and on transportation journeys–this is a good time to use the above gear.
- Make photocopies of your passport and offer it when an agency requires you to leave your passport as collateral. It may not always work, but it’s worth a try.
- Distribute the wealth and spread your valuables out in different places so if something does get taken, they don’t get everything.
- Always always always lock your backpack or suitcase, no matter how comfortable you feel in your accommodation.
As mentioned above, these items should be used as precautions. They won’t guarantee you won’t have things stolen, but they definitely improve your chances of keeping your valuables safe.
It is more likely that your cards will be stolen from inside your luggage rather than someone making off with your entire suitcase or backpack, but things do happen.
In cases where thieves steal entire bags, it usually happens on overnight buses–from underneath the bus or even from right under your seat while you sleep. It’s a sad part of travel, but it happens.
Anti-theft travel accessories are a low price to pay versus having your cash and credit cards stolen.
This is yet another reason why backpacking light is beneficial. Read more reasons here.
Do you travel with money belts or other anti-theft travel accessories?
For more travel safety tips, please read:
- How to Keep Your Passport Safe While Traveling
- I Had My Bag Stolen and 4 Ways I Could’ve Avoided It
- How I Keep My Valuables Safe Abroad
- Will these Safe Travel Essentials Really Help You?
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