Keeping your money and documents safe is one of those annoying factors that you know you should do, but it’s such a hassle, but then it’s an even bigger hassle when you lose everything because you didn’t bother, and then regret. But then there are situations where you are glad you took those extra steps, such as on an overnight train when everyone else got robbed except yourself (Paris to Vienna, 1995). Or, the time I put all my money and credit cards into my money belt and had my empty wallet stolen on a bus in Florence. Poor thief ended up with my health insurance card and a few Euro pennies. Sure, it was better than American pennies at that exchange rate, and he did get a nice wallet, and I sometimes wish I had left a note in Italian that said “HA HA HA” (which, according to Google Translate, is just HA HA HA). But then I didn’t have to deal with calling the credit card company and bank card company and going to the DMV on my return and maybe even the American embassy to get a passport. When you’re crunched for time, as we fully employed American vacationers are, you don’t want to waste any of it trying to explain to Italian police, in Italian, which you don’t speak, what went wrong.
That being said, Janice (my Italy travel companion) and I both dutifully wore our money belts, which contained our passports, copies of our passports, credit cards, bank cards, driver’s licenses, and cash when we traveled from place to place. Being summer, the money belt under our shorts and skirts stuck out as if we were a little bit pregnant, so we kept referring to our money pouches as Pooches. When we reached our destination, we locked the passports in the room safe and carried our money carefully in our purses, in the same manner as we would back home. In every country, I would travel this way and separate out cash and cards into different places so I wouldn’t be left in a complete bind.
If you’re not so into the money belt idea and walking around like you’re a little pregnant, or your pants are too tight to accommodate said belt, there are some alternative options. I happened to find these on safetycentral.com.
The “Personal Bra Stash” which lets you go up a cup size while hiding your valuables. But only one cup gets bigger. Or, like this lady did, you clip it in the cleavage, which means no sexy outfits while you travel.
The “Sock with the Zippered Security Pocket” which is actually pretty cool, if you can ignore the stiff credit cards against your ankle. Also comes in ankle length and in black, too.
The “Security Wristband” is designed more for runners or athletes, but you could fit right in with some Europeans at a club or rave.
Lastly, the “under leg pouch” which you place , i suspect, around your thigh. Now unlike the other aforementioned items, I’m not quite sure how one would access the contents, particularly if you’re wearing pants. If you’re wearing long shorts, you’d have to access it by creeping up your own leg. In both instances it would probably feel like you’re sporting a garter.
Lastly, there’s always travel insurance to cover any losses, which is always highly recommended when traveling. STA Travel (for non-students, too) and American Express both offer reasonable coverage.
Irregardless, there’s a huge industry surrounding the security of your money and passport, so take advantage, so someone else doesn’t of you.