16 Tips for Carrying Cash

This financial travel tip comes to you courtesy of pickpockets, petty thieves, and absent-minded travellers. Cash comes and goes easily on the road, and to preserve it involves stashing and managing it wisely. Here are 16 tips for carrying cash safely and securely while you travel the world.

 

General Tips for Carrying Cash

For some travellers, the question is not where or how to carry cash, but whether to use cash at all. In most western countries, you can pay for almost everything with debit and credit cards. (See also: How Many Debit/Credit Cards to Carry). However even in these countries, it’s prudent to have cash available for tips, transportation (taxis and buses), and emergency needs (if your cards don’t work).

In many other countries, cash is king. Debit purchases are almost unheard of, and credit card purchases entail extra fees.

In both cases, these tips below will enhance your security and peace of mind.

 

Create Consistent Habits

Whatever your cash-carrying strategy, be consistent. Everything should have its place when you travel – especially cash; it’s too easy to misplace or lose.

Don’t Flash Cash

Pulling out a wad of cash in a busy marketplace makes you a target. If you’ve got a lot of cash, stash it securely and keep only what’s necessary in your wallet or pocket.

Don’t Access Money Wallets in Public

Displaying a money wallet or undercover pocket tells thieves you’re guarding something valuable. Nip into the bathroom if you need to access a hidden stash.

Keep Small Bills Accessible

In some countries, changing large bills is difficult, especially in local marketplaces (even more so if you’re negotiating a low price). Break large bills where you can easily get change, and keep smaller bills accessible for small expenses.

Don’t Keep Your Wallet too Handy

The easier it is for you to access your wallet, the easier it is for a pickpocket too. Some of the clothing options below have theft-deterring features.

Diversify

Keeping all your cash in one place is risky. Diversify your cash holdings on your body, in your luggage, and with your travel companions (if applicable). See below for some suggestions.

 

Where to Stash Cash

In the spirit of diversification, here are some creative places to stash cash. Don’t diversify too much (or you’ll forget where you put it all) – a couple of spots is fine.

 

Shoe

It’s hard to steal something you’re standing on! Put it under the insole for extra stealthiness.

Dirty Laundry

Even the most opportunistic of thieves won’t want to sift through your dirty socks in search of money.

Lip Balm Container

I recently read about a traveller who keeps an emergency stash inside an empty lip balm container.

Emergency Luggage Stash

Consider keeping an emergency $20 in your luggage, just in case.

 

Tools

Here are some alternatives to money wallets so you can carry cash and precious items you don’t need immediate access to:

 

Undercover Pockets

You can get all kinds of undercover pockets, including a leg wallet, a hidden pocket that hangs from your belt loop, and even one that snaps onto your bra.

Stash Belt

The Stash Belt is a high-quality belt that holds folded cash and even a USB stick for sensitive information like copies of your ID. I had one for a while and loved it.

Decoy Wallet

If you’re particularly concerned about security, create a decoy wallet with fake cards and small cash. Use it in busy markets, and if you’re robbed you won’t lose everything.

Cash-Friendly Clothing

Travel clothing companies like Clothing Arts and Scottevest specialize in duds with lots of secure/hidden pockets.

 

Bonus Tips

Although not specifically cash carrying tips, manage your cash wisely with these bonus tidbits:

 

Withdraw Small Amounts

Upgrade your bank account so you can withdraw small amounts without paying ATM fees, so you don’t need to worry about carrying big cash. (See also: Using ATMs Abroad – 12 Things You Need to Know)

Spend it All

I enjoy the personal challenge of spending all my local currency before leaving the country. This also saves on currency exchange fees and/or carrying multiple currencies.

 

Need more travel tips? Our travel bloggers share their knowledge and experiences here.

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