Carrying Your Valuables: Money Belts vs. Neck Wallets vs. Alternatives?

Are you about to go on a trip and are you still not sure about how to make sure that your passport, cash, and credit cards stay safe?

Two of the most common things that can be used to protect your valuables on the road are a money belt (such as the Boxiki Travel Money Belt) and a neck wallet (such as the Zero Grid Neck Wallet). In this article, I will look at the advantages and disadvantages of both of them, as well as at what some of the alternative solutions are.

So let’s jump right in!

Carrying Your Valuables: Money Belts vs. Neck Wallets vs. Alternatives?

 

Money Belts vs. Neck Wallets

First, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of money belts and neck wallets, as well as how they stack up against each other.

Money Belts: Advantages and Disadvantages

A money belt is a small device that contains pockets in which you can carry money and other valuables.

Typically a money belt will have a central pouch, and then a strap. You simply tie the strap around your waist or through your trousers and place it underneath your clothes, out of sight.

While there are many different styles of money belts they usually follow this basic design. Some money belts purely have pockets for storing notes and coins. Others, on the other hand, may have pockets for specific devices such as a passport or smartphone.

Money belts are perfect if you don’t mind wearing something around your waist. To make the most out of it, you must always wear it underneath your clothing. Quite obviously, if you wear your money belt exposed like Batman’s utility belt then you are simply labeling yourself as a tourist.

The following are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of using a money belt:

Advantages:

  • Can be worn discreetly underneath your clothes
  • Can be worn comfortably like a normal belt
  • Difficult to steal or damage

Disadvantages:

  • Limited storage space in comparison to other types of luggage
  • Not always easy to access if you need to use any of the items in it

Neck Wallets: Advantages and Disadvantages

A neck wallet has a similar design to a money belt but instead of a strap that you wear around your waist, the wallet will hang from a chain or lanyard around your neck.

The chain will typically be made from a strengthened material to prevent it from snapping easily. Moreover, the wallet may have a similar design to the money belt pocket – it could have several different compartments to store your valuables. As with the money belt, a neck wallet is usually worn underneath your clothing to stay out of sight of pickpockets.

If you like wearing a necklace or a chain, then a neck wallet will suit you perfectly. A neck wallet can generally offer more storage capacity than a money belt. The downside, however, is that this type of storage device is usually heavier and it could put a strain on your neck if you wear it for prolonged periods of time.

The following are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of using a neck wallet:

Advantages:

  • Can usually store more than a money belt
  • Can be worn discreetly underneath your clothes
  • Easier to access than a money wallet

Disadvantages:

  • Bulkier and may not be as comfortable as a money belt
  • Can be stolen by cutting the chain
  • Can put strain on your neck if overloaded or worn for prolonged periods of time

The Verdict

As you can see above, both money belts and neck wallets have their advantages and disadvantages. Both can, however, be very effective in protecting your valuables while traveling, and also for keeping them organized. Personally, though, I prefer neck wallets as I find them more practical to use.

Below is a selection of three money belts and three neck wallets that I suggest you to check out if you are planning to get either.

Three Money Belts to Check Out:

Three Neck Wallets to Check Out:

I also suggest checking out my article about the seven best neck wallets.

 

Alternative Methods of Protecting Your Valuables on the Road

Both the money belt and neck wallet are great methods of carrying your valuables. There are alternatives, however, which you can use in conjunction with or instead of the above two.

Dividing Your Valuables

Many people often make the mistake of packing all their valuables in one place. By doing this, as the saying goes you are placing all of your eggs in one basket. If that basket is stolen, then you have lost everything.

Let’s say for example you put all of your travel money and electronics in a backpack – if that backpack is snatched from your shoulders, you have lost everything.

As such, even though it may seem like hard work, it is advisable to split your valuables across different locations – put some in your deep pockets, some in your money belt, and some in your backpack. I especially doing so with cash and credit cards.

That way, if someone picks your pockets, you still have valuables stashed away in other locations!

Wearing a Backpack or a Drawstring Bag

Despite popular notions, a backpack or a drawstring bag can be more than adequate. The main issue is that people simply don’t use them properly.

If you leave your backpack latches open for example, you are setting yourself up to be robbed. In a similar fashion, if you do not fasten a drawstring bag tightly, what’s stopping someone from simply reaching their hand in and stealing your valuables?

Both backpacks and drawstring bags can offer perfectly secure transportation for your valuables. Just use your common sense and go the extra mile to ensure your baggage is secure. For example, you could secure your backpack with a padlock. Alternatively, to minimize the risk of losing valuables in a backpack or a drawstring bag, simply place your valuables right at the bottom.

You can then cover the valuables with something bulky such as an item of clothing – if a pickpocket did manage to infiltrate your bag, they would grab the clothing first at which point you should notice the intrusion.

Wearing Clothes with Optimal Pockets

A final alternative is to simply wear clothes that have a large array of pockets. I don’t mean flimsy pockets that you can barely fit your hand into either but large pockets with zips.

Jackets with interior pockets are perfect as they allow you can keep your valuables close to your body and the interior pockets are – in practice – not much different from a money belt or a neck wallet.

If someone wanted to steal from you, they would literally have to reach in your jacket and unzip your pocket – surely you would notice this.

 

Summary

Traveling carries some inherent dangers with it – there is no denying. Even in, or especially in, popular tourist destinations such as Paris, London and New York you can fall prey to pick-pocketing.

However, with your valuables stashed away in a money belt or a neck wallet (check my article about what some of the best neck wallets are), or in your jacket’s inner pockets, you should be alright most of the time on the road. Just make sure to follow some of the common-sense things such as:

  • Not leaving your bags unattended
  • Closing your purses, bags and wallets when not in use
  • Not jumping in unmetered taxis
  • Avoiding walking alone at night
  • Staying aware of your surroundings

And, most of all, making sure your appearance doesn’t scream “tourist.”

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