4 Reasons You Need To Pack A Money Belt
So you’re heading off for two months in South America. You’ll hike Machu Picchu, hang with the penguins in Terra Del Fuego and dance until 6 a.m. in Buenos Aires. Life is good and about to get better. Travel security is likely not high on your pre-trip list.
But you’ll want to give it some thought and one accessory you’ll want to bring is a money belt. Some travelers think money belts aren’t “core” enough or that they don’t need a special accessory to carry their money and IDs because the people who live where they’re going don’t use them.
That may sound good at a party, but doesn’t translate in reality. So here are five reasons you need to bring a money belt.
You’re Not in Kansas Anymore
One of the most enjoyable elements of travel is not having at your disposal all of your normal resources. When things go wrong at home, you just call a friend or walk to your nearest ATM. That’s not the case in a remote village in a country where you know no one and don’t speak the language. I was once robbed of all credit cards and cash after pulling into Bahia, Brazil. Within moments, I had no money, no food, no where to stay and no one to call. Yes, the people who live where you’re going don’t wear money belts. But you don’t live there. So take precautions.
Time is More Valuable Than Money
Money belts are not expensive. They usually cost $8-$14. That’s a pittance compared to the amount of time and hassle you’ll have to spend if your ID or passport are stolen. It can take days or weeks, and often travel to the host nation’s capital to get your passport replaced and continue on your trip. Few governments function quickly or efficiently. You don’t want to tie up your precious travel days haggling with bureaucrats. Hang onto your vital documents.
Path of Least Resistance
There’s a joke about two guys hiking in the woods who are being chased by a bear. One guy says, “Oh no! I hope we can out run the bear!” And the other guy says, “I don’t need to out run the bear, I just need to out run you!” The same is true when it comes to crime prevention. No device stops all thefts, but criminals go after the easiest targets. They don’t have time to make everyone on a bus stand up to check if they have a hidden belt or pocket. You just want to make it a little more difficult for them to rob you than the next guy.
As mentioned, no single technique or accessory is going to prevent all crime. Common sense, planning and often a little trickery are your best defenses. One of the most common tricks is to store the bulk of your cash in a money belts and a little bit in your shoe while also carrying a diversionary wallet or a few dollars in your pocket that you can quickly give the robbers. Money belts won’t prevent thieves from trying, but they are another tool in your quiver to reduce the amount you’ll lose if you are robbed.
The vast majority of people you meet on the road are honest. There’s no reason to be fearful or timid while traveling. But the truth is you’re not a local. You’re spending precious and relatively little time in a place where you have few resources. And money belts are one of the least expensive and most effective ways to ensure your travels aren’t stalled because of crime.