Are Travel Money Belts worth it?

Are Travel Money Belts worth it?

So let me begin with a story. My wife and I had gone on a trip to Barcelona and despite prior warnings from friends to be careful, we managed to lose our backpack to the clever tricks of the thieves operating in the main market square. And in that process we lost our onward train tickets, money and all my clothes (my wife was very happy to discover she did not lose hers!). Thankfully the passports were in her bag else we could have lost those as well. Like me, if you’ve ever lost a wallet on a trip to another country, you’ll know what a huge hassle it is. If you have lost your cards, you call the bank to cancel the same and they put you on hold repeatedly for 20 minutes at a time and you have to pay international calling rates for the privilege of doing so. If you end up losing passports then you frantically call the Embassy to get an appointment and nobody is in a hurry to solve your problem. If you have lost your tickets and money, well then you may be stuck at platform with no roof till you find a solution. All this can be avoided with a simple yet inexpensive solution – a TRAVEL MONEY BELT, which can be worn under the clothing to keep safe and secure some of the key valuables like passport, travel documents, cash, credit card, keys and phone among others. If you’re going somewhere with a reputation for pickpockets or even otherwise if you are going to visit crowded places, it’s a good idea to bring one along.

The pros and cons of using a travel money belt

So yes, I use money belts for travelling and no, they’re not for everyone. Here are both sides of the coin.

Pros of using a money belt

  • It is worn inside clothing and hence it’s out of sight and harder for thieves to access
  • It keeps your money, passport, travel documents, credit cards and other valuables safer than in your pocket or in your back pack
  • It prevents common type of theft such as grab and run
  • It’s light weight and comfortable to wear
  • Some are waterproof or water resistant, and keep your papers dry
  • The RFID feature on some belts keeps you protected from identity theft
  • A money belt is a cheap insurance policy – low-cost and simple yet effective
  • Besides travel , you can use a money belt to keep your belongings safe while running, cycling and biking.

And the cons of a money belt

  • Depending on which one you choose, they can be sweaty
  • It’s not easy to access, especially if you need your money in a hurry (which is why you should always keep some cash separately)

What is my ideal travel money belt?

If I were to describe my perfect money belt, this is what it would look like:

  • It will be a sleek and stylish design compared to the bulky old fashioned leather and quasi leather waist bags.
  • It will be made of lightweight water-proof or water resistant nylon material, with a breatheable back side to reduce any discomfort from sweating.
  • It will have a wide and adjustable elastic waistband, which I consider very important for the flexibility of hanging it on my waist or across my shoulders.
  • It will have high quality SBS or YKK zippers (two of the best zipper brands globally) and secure buckles.
  • There will be a main pouchfor keeping at least 3-4 passports, phone and cards, and one or two smaller pouches for other cards and papers.
  • It will have hidden pocket at the back for added protection.
  • It will have RFID security feature for protecting me from identity theft. RFID stands for “Radio-Frequency Identification”.  Some credit cards and newer passports have embedded RFID chips which contain all kinds of personal information that you would never want to have taken from you. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous criminals use RFID readers to scan for and steal information from these chips if they aren’t protected. A traveler wouldn’t even know this had happened until they started seeing weird charges showing up or until they found out their identity had been stolen. So having RFID is an absolute must for a money belt.
  • Finally, it will have some other value added features like headphone output so i can listen to songs safely while on the move and key carabiner to keep my house and luggage keys safe.

Some Safety Tips for Money Belt

  • Ideally, never open your travel money belt in public. If you must delve into your money belt, go to some private place.
  • Do NOT wear your money belt outside your clothes – it’s like inviting the thief and yelling “Free money, come and get it!” It’s a hidden money belt – it’s meant to be worn under
  • Do NOT buy a flimsy one with poor buckles and zippers – once it’s broken, it’s gone.
  • Do NOT put everything in there, as you don’t want to lose everything all at once. What I generally suggest is for people to split things up into at least two places: firstly, a money belt, with cash, a credit card, one ID (probably a passport), and secondly, a wallet with cash, a second credit card, and a second ID (probably a driver’s license). That way if you lose one or the other, it won’t be such a problem handling the next few days of eating, sleeping, and dealing with it all.
  • Always wear your money belt– Don’t leave it ‘safely’ in your backpack while eating at a restaurant.
  • Do NOT keep photocopies of your important papers in your money belt IF YOUR PAPERS ARE IN THERE TOO. If you should lose it, you’ll also lose your vital information. Always keep them separate.Ideally carry digital copies on phone with password protection.
  • Do NOT be careless just because you are wearing a money belt. Always beware of crowds. The likeliest places to be pick pocketed are those with plenty of people – buses, subways, festivals, concerts… any situation with crowds.

Summing up

So is it necessary to invest in a good travel money belt? Absolutely not. You can always make do with other home made alternatives and be extra diligent while travelling.

Does it give you peace of mind and will i recommend it? Hell, yes ! The benefits far exceed the modest cost of buying a good quality belt. But i will not compromise on quality and pay a little extra to get the right features.

I live in the UK and the good quality belts here sell for approximately £12-15 (INR 1200-1500). In India so far i could only find Amazon Basics which had RFID feature and selling for INR 799. Only recently my wife has launched a high quality travel money belt through her company GoTrippin on Amazon India at same price as Amazon but with lot more added features and better size and quality. It can be bought through this LINK. I am clearly an interested party so will be biased but you as a consumer can judge for yourself. The brand is still in development phase and no doubt it is not perfect so any feedback from customers to improve the product will be much appreciated.

– Sandeep

 

 

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