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International Travel/Money Belts

Discussion area for peaks outside of the USA.
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International Travel/Money Belts

Postby scalba123 » Tue May 01, 2012 5:51 pm

Does anyone have a recommendation to keep money and personal ID information safe while traveling outside the United States. I thought about a money belt, but wasn't sure if that made the most sense. I'm heading out to Kilimanjaro next month and would hate advertising myself to pickpockets that I'm carrying something of interest.

Any input would be appreciated. Thanks!

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Re: International Travel/Money Belts

Postby Scott P » Tue May 01, 2012 6:47 pm

Money belts should be worn on the inside of the clothing. Also, sewing extra pockets on the inside of clothing is a good idea too.

Most of the world is safer than places like Denver. The cities in East Africa are not one of those places. Of all the places we've travelled throughout the world, Nairobi and Los Angeles (CA) are the only places where people have tried to rob/steal from us. That shouldn't scare you, but take care and use precautions.
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Re: International Travel/Money Belts

Postby Jon Frohlich » Tue May 01, 2012 7:59 pm

There are a couple of ways to handle it. Definitely split your money and other documents into multiple places on your body if possible. I've done a money belt around my waist as well as documents in a zippered pocket on my leg. One of my best purchases was a pair of pants with a zippered pocket around knee height. No one is getting in there without you knowing. Another idea I've seen is wrapping the money belt around your ankle and covering it with your pants. Harder to do unless you do it right as it may slip down but it can be done. Keep a small amount of money easily available so you aren't showing off the money belt in public.

I always have a couple of copies of my passport in various places too just in case.

My only experience with attempted robbery was Edinburgh, Scotland of all places. Someone tried to pickpocket me entering the train station. Last place I would have expected it so always good to be on guard.

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Re: International Travel/Money Belts

Postby MountainHiker » Tue May 01, 2012 9:00 pm

I’ve used a money belt on international trips. Typically I’m wearing it if I’m taking a bunch of cash to pay for a tour. I have also kept my passport in the belt. Any daily spending money is kept separate so I’m not pulling the belt out in a less secure place.

Usually as the trip goes on I have less cash so less need to be wearing the belt. Agree with separating money into multiple places.

A tip. It can get sweaty. Unless you want soggy money & passport some zip lock sandwich bags can keep things dry.
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Re: International Travel/Money Belts

Postby Aubrey » Tue May 01, 2012 9:41 pm

Splitting the money up on your body and between people is best. I usually put my big bills in half-quart ziploc bags and wrap them in between my liner socks and regular socks, just above my ankles. I also carry a "decoy" wallet, which I stuff with petty cash and a bunch of fake and/or defunct credit cards. If someone pickpockets you or mugs you, they probably won't spend any time checking the legitimacy of the wallet. If it appears full / real, they'll just grab and go. But they know you'll have something. So carry a decoy, but hide your important stuff, and spread it out to ensure you're not robbed clean. Remember to keep whatever you'll need to get to your next destination handy, though; you don't want to have to dig around or pull out your money belt in public.

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Re: International Travel/Money Belts

Postby pvnisher » Wed May 02, 2012 1:51 am

Wow, you guys are paranoid. I just wad up a bunch of bills and jam them in my back pockets. Sometimes they fall out, hang out, whatever. You can always count on a kindly stranger to return the bills to you. If you're worried about losing them, just write your name, mother's maiden name (so they can call your mom to tell her they found the money, you know how moms worry!), SSN, hotel address and room number on each bill. If you want, you can also leave a bank account login and password so that the kindly stranger can easily deposit the money that fell out.

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Re: International Travel/Money Belts

Postby Dex » Wed May 02, 2012 5:43 pm

Scan in all important documents & upload to email account and thumb drive.

Get a throw down wallet.

Money belt or around the neck is good.
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Re: International Travel/Money Belts

Postby Cruiser » Wed May 02, 2012 6:44 pm

The last time I spent a good bit of time bumming around in the 3rd world I sewed a velcro pocket on the inside of the cargo pocket in a pair of BDU pants. It worked flawlessly since the cargo pocket was already kind of bulky. Even if I wasn't wearing the pants I'd still feel comfortable leaving my docs/cash in them since no one would ever realize that there was anything in there if they quickly rifled through my stuff while I wasn't around.
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Re: International Travel/Money Belts

Postby Old Goat » Wed May 02, 2012 6:58 pm

Campmor (online) and AAA in their offices both have a good variety of money belts. In my money belt that actually looked and functioned as a belt, I kept a folded-long copy of my passport and some folded-long big bills. In a stubbier one inside my shirt, yet still around my waist, I kept the same as the outer belt, but added a credit card. In my cargo pants zipped pockets, I kept some small bills and coins. Though I was clearly not a local, an advantage I had was to "look poor" - that came naturally.

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Re: International Travel/Money Belts

Postby Neil » Wed May 02, 2012 8:24 pm

Scott P wrote:Most of the world is safer than places like Denver.


Scott, of the thousands of times I have agreed with you over the years, this is probably the first I have not! I suppose there is always a first. While most of the world MAY be safer than Denver for residents of those parts of the world, I would argue that most of the world is much more dangerous than Denver if you are a traveler from America, which is what we are discussing here. Violent crime and crimes of opportunity against foreign travelers are a very significant danger in nearly all of Central America, South America, Africa (primarily sub-Saharan, although the Sahel is getting pretty rough), Eastern Europe, and certain parts of SE Asia, particularly in population centers. A number of my friends have been violently mugged in Latin America -- none have in Denver. In Johannesburg, you are encouraged to run red lights at night if it is safe because of the high car jacking rate. I have been targeted several times in Romania and Bulgaria. I would never suggest these are awful places, on the contrary, I would visit any of them and take simple percautions. My only argument is that white Americans stick out like sore thumbs in these areas, even when we try not to, which elevates the danger to levels that I think are beyond those I experience day-to-day in Denver.

Also, political crime against Westerners (while admitedly overblown by the media) is still a real threat in much of Central Asia (south of Russia and north and west of India), North Africa (especially the Sahel region), and small pockets of the Middle East.

As a caveat to this whole argument, if you are traveling to mountaineer, you are likely traveling to objectively safer parts of a particular country than many travelers (with some exceptions, such as Arusha, so the OP is smart to take percautions).

Again, I feel a twinge of gulit even typing this. I have traveled to may of these areas incident free and had a delightful experience learning about the culture, people, and land. But, I think it is important for people to be aware that traveling as an American in many parts of the world comes with unique dangers that can be mitigated by certain behaviors and precautions, but not eliminated.

Anyway, sorry for the tangent. You're the man Scott and I don't mean to flame you -- just a simple disagreement that I feel is important to highlight.

One more comment to the OP. Money belts are great right up until you get violently robbed. I have had several friends hold back on a money belt during assaults in Latin America, the muggers found the belts, and that caused them a great deal of additional abuse. My advice, and you don't have to take it: in the very unlikely event you get mugged, forget the money belt, get out un (or less) scathed, and deal with it at the embassy.
"On the edge of the porch in the warm evening night
Throwing the bone for the dog I see two passing lights
Well, I wonder where that driver's bound
Is there someone, somewhere, someway out there that I've not found"
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Re: International Travel/Money Belts

Postby Neil » Wed May 02, 2012 8:26 pm

Also, Cruiser, that's a great idea. I've been trying to develop something similar. I will be spending a few weeks in the interior of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and don't want to rely on pockets or money belts. You've just provided my weekend project.
"On the edge of the porch in the warm evening night
Throwing the bone for the dog I see two passing lights
Well, I wonder where that driver's bound
Is there someone, somewhere, someway out there that I've not found"
-Driving Song

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Re: International Travel/Money Belts

Postby gdthomas » Thu May 03, 2012 7:01 am

If someone is desperate enough to rob you there may not be much you can do about it, but it rarely happens even in third-world countries. The vast majority of money "theft" is accomplished by stealth or distraction. A money belt worn under your clothing to the front and a bit of vigilance will go along way toward preventing someone from stealing your valuables.

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