When I was planning for my first trip to Europe in 2008, my parents gave me a money belt – a fabric strip that I could strap around my torso underneath my clothes to keep my money and passport secure. I used it for that first trip, but since then I have been travelling all over the world for 3.5 years out of the last 5 years and I haven’t used a money belt since. If you are planning a trip travelling Europe, is this type of belt really necessary? Do you really need a money belt in Europe?
The Advantages of a Money Belt
One of the main advantages of a money belt, when travelling Europe is knowing that your cash is safe and secure. Most money belts strap around your body and are hidden by your clothing, so there is no way that a crafty pickpocket could steal your cash without you knowing. It only takes a second for a pickpocket to walk away with your cash, cards or passport – causing you to be stranded and seriously inconvenienced. Also, having your valuables close to your body is much better than having them next to you if you are sleeping on a bus or a train.
Some say that wearing a money belt when you are travelling is like wearing a seat belt when driving. You don’t need it most of the time, but in the emergency when you do need it – you will be glad it’s there.
The Disadvantages of a Money Belt
However, on the other hand there are disadvantages to wearing a money belt if you are travelling Europe. One of the main disadvantages is that it distinguishes you as a tourist right away. Whenever you have to sneakily slip your hand up your shirt to find the money to pay for your lunch, you are advertising to everyone that you are not a local. This makes you more of a target for theft and scams, because they know that you will not be as savvy about your surroundings.
It is better to keep a small amount of spending money for the day in your pockets, rather than having to reach into the money belt each time. Which makes me wonder – why carry the belt at all in that case when you could have the majority of your cash and your passports in your hostel locker or hotel room safe?
Do You Really Need a Money Belt in Europe?
When travelling Europe, here’s something to think about – Europeans are walking through the same cities you are in and taking the same metro you are taking and they carry their money in a wallet or a purse, just like you do at home. Would you wear a money belt if you visited a different city in your own country? As long as you are not carrying your huge backpack, wearing stupid hats and t-shirts and talking loudly in English wherever you go, there should be nothing to distinguish you as a tourist (and target for theft) from the rest of the crowd. Just be alert and blend in with the crowd.
It is up to you whether you feel you need a money belt when travelling Europe, but above all it is important to be aware of your surroundings while you are on the road.