When it comes to protecting your emergency stash while travelling, money belts have traditionally been the go-to method. But they’re not for everyone. They can be bulky, uncomfortable and let’s face it, pretty uncool. Plus, everyone knows that money belts exist. It doesn’t take the Sherlock Holmes of thieves to work out you might be wearing one!
That’s where alternatives to money belts come in.
They come in a vast range of styles, shapes, sizes and designs. From the classic neck wallet to the saucy (okay, it’s not that saucy) garter purse, there’s an alternative money belt out there for every traveller and every occasion.
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Money Belt Alternatives — The different options!
Before we go any further, let’s get one thing straight: travel isn’t inherently dangerous. Sure, there are some common scams to be aware of while on the road but there are common scams on eBay too. I’m not here to scare you into buying anything you don’t need.
Some travellers take fewer precautions than others. Heck, some even backpack without travel insurance. If travelling with a money belt or one of these alternatives gives you the peace of mind to enjoy your adventure more, go ahead and grab one! But if you think they’re a waste of time, or don’t see the need for your next trip, save your money for a couple of beers on the road instead!
On to the money belt alternatives!
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The Best Money Belt Alternatives – Quick Answers!
After money belts, neck wallets are one of the most common ways to store small valuables while travelling. They’re big enough to hold multiple passports, plenty of money, credit cards, a room key and even your phone.
As the name suggests, neck wallets are worn around your neck. The lanyard is usually adjustable so you can wear it in the most comfortable position possible. The safest way to wear a neck wallet is under your t-shirt or jumper — this creates a real challenge for any potential pickpockets.
Most neck wallets are made from RFID blocking materials, protecting you from the potential threat of RFID skimming incidents.
The main downside of a neck wallet is the size. It can be tempting to pack them full and even replace your daypack with one. The problem is, this makes them visible under your clothes and often means you’ll have to root around to get at your phone or money for smaller transactions — alerting potential thieves to the fact you’re wearing one!
Neck Wallet Pros
- Comfort — Neck wallets are often more comfortable than money belts as they don’t rub against your skin as much.
- Size — Neck wallets allow you to store more than the average money belt.
- Accessible — Neck wallets make it easier for you to get at the stuff stored inside.
Neck Wallet Cons
- Size — Having more room tempts you to pack more stuff which can make neck wallets bulky and obvious.
- The lanyard — It can be uncomfortable on your neck if worn for extended periods.
Our Favourite Neck Wallets
Arm wallets are essentially sweatbands with a built-in pocket. They’re not big enough for a phone or passport but you can often fit cash, a key and maybe a credit card inside. Be aware though, the more you put in your arm wallet, the more obvious it becomes that it’s not a “standard” sweatband!
These wallets come in a wide range of styles and are comfortable to wear. It doesn’t matter whether you’re at the gym or a full moon party, you’ll find an arm wallet to fit in!
Arm Wallet Pros
- Comfortable — Arm wallets feel like wearing a sweatband so are super comfy.
- Stylish — Arm wallets look better than neck wallets or money belts.
Arm Wallet Cons
- Small — You can’t store as much in arm wallets.
- Not as secure — As they’re always on display, arm wallets aren’t as secure as other hidden wallets.
Our Favourite Arm Wallets
For typical sweatband style check out the Zipper Sweatband from The Friendly Swede. If you want more variation in colour or style, then make sure you look into the Sprigs Banjees 2 which comes in all manner of designs.
Leg wallets do exactly what they say on the tin. Attaching to your leg via a velcro strap or zip, these pouches are usually large enough for money, keys, passport and possibly a phone. It’s most common for leg wallets to be worn around your ankle or calf but some can be worn higher up on your thigh.
Assuming you’re wearing loose-fitting trousers, leg wallets are very discreet. It can be hard to get items in and out of them subtly though, so only keep an emergency stash inside them.
Leg Wallet Pros
- Discreet — When worn correctly, leg wallets remain hidden. Their slim style means they don’t draw attention.
- Various sizes — Leg wallets are available in a vast range of sizes to suit all travellers.
Let Wallet Cons
- Often need long trousers — When worn with tight trousers or shorts, most leg wallets are very obvious. Most of the time, you’ll need loose-fitting trousers for them to work.
- Hard to get into — It’s hard to get items out of your leg wallet without everyone knowing what you’re doing!
Our favourite leg wallets
Our favourite leg wallets are the LTG Concealed Ankle Wallet and the Ailzos Leg Cell Phone Holder. For ladies wanting something a little fancier, the Lace Garter Purse from Stashbandz is also excellent. All three can hold a decent amount of money and cards. You may even be able to fit a passport or phone in them too!
A bra stash, or bra wallet, is a small pocket that attaches to your bra using a fixed loop. They can be worn in the centre of your bra, leaving the pocket to hang in the middle of your sternum. Alternatively, they can be worn on the side of your bra and hang close to your arm.
Usually made from a comfortable material to prevent rubbing or soreness, they are large enough to hold a few credit cards, as well as cash and a key. They are not designed for quick access but more as a method of keeping essentials safe in case of emergencies and some even come with RFID blocking technology!
Bra Stash Pros
- Well hidden — A bra stash is small and discreet enough that it remains well hidden in almost any loose-fitting outfit. It’s also easy to hide away when wearing tighter clothes.
- Versatile — As well as being worn on your bra, a bra stash can attach to underwear, trousers or anything else small enough to get the snaps around.
Bra Stash Cons
- Hard to get into — As with most of our money belt alternatives, bra stashes are hard to get items in and out of in public.
Our favourite bra Stash
Anti-theft wallets are a good choice for minimalist travellers. They replace your everyday wallet but have extra features like RFID blocking materials and anchor attachment points for chains or straps.
Anti-Theft Wallet Pros
- Versatile – Anti-theft wallets replace your normal wallet. This means you’re not carrying an extra piece of gear all the time!
- Easy to use – They look and perform as a normal wallet so using one feels natural to most.
Anti-Theft Wallet Cons
- Small – They’re just a wallet. There’s no way of fitting in a passport or phone.
- Easy to spot – Due to the chain or strap attaching the wallet to your trousers, it’s easy to tell who’s wearing one.
Our favourite anti-theft wallets
The Pacsafe V50 Compact Wallet features RFID blocking technology and a wire-reinforced strap. Coming from Pacsafe, you know the workmanship will be of the finest quality. We also love the tomtoc minimalist wallet. This slimline wallet features RFID blocking and a strap to deter pickpockets.
Lightweight Shoulder Bags
Shoulder bags are less subtle than money belts. However, they offer more room and are more accessible. They’re essentially small messenger bags that fit snug against your body. They’re streamlined enough that they can be worn under a jumper or coat to remain hidden. Some even feature anti-theft tech like lockable zips and slash-proof materials.
Even when worn on the outside of your clothes, they don’t stand out and are still a challenge for pickpockets. There’s enough room inside to keep all of your essentials safe but if you want the bag to remain as discreet as possible, don’t put too much inside!
Lightweight Shoulder Bag Pros
- Lots of room – Lightweight shoulder bags have plenty of room for all your gear. They can even replace a small daypack in some instances.
- Easy to get into – You can move these bags around your body for the best angle to get at your stuff!
Lightweight Shoulder Bag Cons
- More obvious – Shoulder bags are much more obvious than money belts, especially when worn over your clothes!
- Too much room – It’s very easy to pack too much in a shoulder bag.
Our favourite shoulder bags
Our final alternative to money belts isn’t really an alternative but something that many travellers use in conjunction with other methods. With your emergency cash secure in a money belt or alternative, you should carry small amounts of day to day money in a cheap decoy wallet.
By carrying your day to day money in a separate wallet, you can leave your emergency stash alone — ensuring no one sees you taking money out of a hidden spot. A decoy wallet also means you have something to hand over in case you’re robbed. This keeps your primary money supply, and more importantly yourself, safe.
Final Thoughts on Money Belt Alternatives
Whether you choose to use a money belt, one of the alternatives we’ve listed or just go without, there are things you can do to avoid becoming a victim of theft while travelling.
If possible, leave most of your money, cards and passport locked up in your accommodation. They’re safer in a locker than in any hidden pocket. If this isn’t possible, be smart and scatter items around your person. Don’t keep everything in one place!
Travelling with a small lock is always a good idea. It allows you to secure lockers or bags in hostels, hotels and while moving from place to place.
Stay safe and enjoy your travels!