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Money Belts: Types, Styles & Tips Guide

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One of the travel-related questions on everyone’s mind is how to keep valuables safe on the road! Whether you’re seeing a new city on foot or settling in for a long bus or train ride, you want peace of mind that your passport, money, and credit cards are concealed and protected.

Many travelers opt to use some version of a money belt – a belt, pouch or wallet worn under clothing that fits the essentials such as currency and a credit/debit card and, depending on the product’s size, your passport.

Note: Money belts are intended to store and protect valuables and not to be used as an every-day wallet! Stash enough money for your daily needs in your purse or backpack (keeping them close!) or another safe space. If you find you need to access something in your money belt, dash into a restroom and out of the watchful eyes of others.

Money belts come in a variety of designs to accommodate different styles of dress and of course your personal interests and comforts. A money belt is only helpful if you can use it!

Traditional belt to fit through belt loops:

money belt female Literally a money belt! Tuck bills into the belt and wear as usual. The downside? No room to stash cards or a passport. And many are rather plain. This one, however, seems to be designed with the female traveler in mind.

Shop for this female money belt online.

Belts worn around waist under clothing:

money belt These belts tend to offer a couple of zippered pockets large enough to fit a passport. Some female travelers have said it can be more comfortable to wear it on the small off their back instead of the front. If you tend to wear fitted pants, skirts, and dresses, this may not be the best option.

Shop for money belts online.

Neck pouch:

neck pouch hidden A cord/string is worn around the neck and the pouch (usually with a couple of zippered pockets and large enough for a passport) is worn under your shirt. The outline may be easily visible unless you are wearing a lose-fitting t-shirt, sweatshirt, or jacket.

Shop for hidden neck pouches online.

Arm pouch:

hidden arm pouch Worn on the forearm under a long sleeved shirt. This pouch will not be big enough to hold items like passports but can make for a good money and key stash when necessary.

Shop for arm pouches online.

Bra pouch:

bra pouch A small pouch to conceal in your bra or attach to it. Good for cash and keys but not a passport.

Shop for bra pouches online.

Leg straps/wallet:

leg wallet Worn around the calf above the ankle – best with long dresses or pants.

Shop for leg wallets online.

Hidden pocket:

hidden pocket A small pouch/pocket with a couple of loops. If you wear a regular belt, feed the belt through the loops and wear the hidden pocket inside your shorts/pants. Some prefer to skip the belt and secure the pocket inside with a couple of safety pins.

Shop for hidden pockets online.

Shoulder holster:

shoulder holster A strap is worn over the shoulder and the pouch is worn against your side under your arm (under clothing).

Shop for shoulder holsters online.

A few things to consider when choosing a money belt:

  • Many people assume you have one so they are not the best kept secret.
  • You cannot add too much without it becoming bulky and obvious.
  • Consider your style of dress when choosing a product that works best for you.
  • They may be uncomfortable in warmer climates and begin to smell – look for one that’s moisture-proof with anti-microbial fabric.

I own a traditional under-the-clothes waist money belt but am considering investing in something new. If you use a different product, share your thoughts on the pros and cons!

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12 Responses to Money Belts: Types, Styles & Tips Guide

  1. Nicole September 20, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    I never knew there were so many different types of money belts! I own a neck pouch & I like having it for long flights so I can keep my money & passport close while I’m sleeping – especially if I’m traveling alone. I’ve found that I don’t use it these days as much as I used to – it depends on the situation, but now that I’ve been living abroad for a while, I just use a regular purse for my day-to-day needs.

    • Brooke September 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

      Yep – agreed… good for in-transit, but when you’re living in a place like Australia, it just makes sense to carry a purse :)

    • Heather September 20, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

      I think I want to try a shoulder holster — if and when I do I’ll report in :-)

  2. Kelsey January 12, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    I have a small silk bra pouch with no straps that you simply tuck into your bra. I used it whenever I went out this summer in Afghanistan – mostly as a backup, just in case I was robbed or didn’t have enough cash on hand. However, a few times I needed to access the money in it and since none of my shirts were high-necked, it was easy enough to turn my back, reach in, and pull out the pouch.

    The only (partial) con was that a couple of times it worked itself loose and I had to retreat to a bathroom to retrieve it but that rarely happened, considering how often I wore it. Most of the time as long as I was careful about tucking it in carefully, it stayed put.

    Like the reviewer above mentioned, it’s not convenient as a wallet but extremely so as a backup.

    • Brooke January 12, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

      Great feedback! What were you up to in Afghanistan?

  3. Nancy February 13, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    I’ve used a Hidden Pocket on longer trips (several weeks) both in the US and in Europe.

    Sometimes I use it with a belt but more often I’ve just pinned it to the inside of my pants or shorts with a medium-sized safety pin. It can get bulky with passport, cash and a back-up credit card but as long as I don’t wear super-tight clothes it hasn’t been visible. I definitely feel safer knowing I have a stash that won’t accidentally fall off or pop out of my clothes.

    The only down side I’ve found is that it can get warm when seated for long periods of time.

    Happy Travels!

  4. Marge February 16, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    I made my own little pouch out of it thin neoprene and an elastic covered by a really soft cotton underneath as a belt, which I open and close with velcros (the elastic makes it possible to wear it on my hips and a bit higher too, which can be practical when wearing certain dresses. I made it because I previously had store bought cotton pouches and in Asia my documents would suffer from the humidity (rain, sun, sweat,…).

    Mine is also a lot softer, so I’d say if you buy one, check if it’s soft enough to wear on your bare skin if you’re going to be sweating a lot. The neoprene isn’t completely waterproof, but my documents aren’t all crumpled from the humidity anymore. And I’ve also learned my lesson with my previous passport which looked like I’d held it out in the pouring rain, so I now have an oilcloth passport cover to protect my new one.

    I’ve only used it in Asia, where I only wear really loose clothing anyway, so it’s easy to hide.

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