How to Use a Money Belt: Learn From My Mistakes

money belt rei

The bill for my pizza came and I was faced with a dilemma: all my money was in my money belt, buried underneath my shirt and shorts…. and I had absolutely no idea how to use a money belt.

Sitting at an outdoor table at a restaurant in Napoli, surrounded by four men and the restaurant’s owner, it became all too clear that I was doing anything but using my money belt properly as I awkwardly reached under my clothes and fumbled through the mess of my belongings and cash for a ten euro bill, pulling out first of course, two fifties. Not exactly a recipe for protecting myself and valuables while on the road.

In my pursuit to keep myself safe on a recent three-week solo trek through France and Italy, I made what many guidebooks hail as the most important pre-trip purchase and bought a money belt.

A money belt is a pouch you can wear under your clothing to secure belongings such as money, credit cards and your passport. Whereas a trained thief could easily steal these items from a backpack or pants pocket, it is near impossible to do so when they are secured in a money belt.

While I made this purchase, I did not however, do as Rick Steves does and actually use my money belt. Through Paris, with its ever present signs warning of pick pocketing and Rome with streets so crowded it would no doubt be easy to steal, I did not put it on. Call it laze. Call it distrust. I did not pull the money belt from the bottom of my suitcase until it came time for my visit to Napoli, a city I had heard is one of Europe’s most dangerous for petty theft.

As I left the restaurant I felt the money belt begin to slip lower and lower around my waist and I determined I needed to do a bit of research into the correct way to make use of such a protective garment.

If you are considering using a money belt while travelling, follow these tips for optimized safety and minimal awkwardness.

Tips for How to Use a Money Belt

  • Do not use your money belt to store all your money. Plan on not having access to the items in it while out and about, and keep a day’s spending or at least enough money for anticipated purchases elsewhere.

 

  • Do not access items in your money belt in public. If you need to remove something from your money belt, go to the bathroom to do so.

 

  • Ensure your money belt is tight and secure prior to heading out for the day. If it slips, head to the bathroom to readjust. Do not do so in public.

 

  • Make sure your money belt is organized before you put it on. Know where each item is so that if you do need to quickly access something in an emergency you can do so quickly and while drawing minimal attention to yourself.
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