How I Carry My Money While Traveling

Derek Travel Gear 122 Comments

By this point in my travels I think I’ve tried it all when it comes to carrying around my money and credit cards while on the road.

Sitting here right now I can only chuckle and shake my head as I recall my inexperienced and frightened traveling self carrying around a money belt during my first trip abroad. That money-carrying option lasted only six months, until I realized that my money belt actually made my life more complicated. I happily discarded it one day while in the town of Mae Sariang in Thailand.

With the money-belt gone, I immediately switched back to the standard method of money-carrying – the wallet. And over the following two years I went through a variety of wallets, mostly cheap ones found in local markets around the world, in an attempt to find one that fit my needs perfectly. Of course, this mission was never successful, although, I still preferred any old wallet over a money belt. But the wallet was bulky, especially when keeping it in my side pocket in the hopes of deterring pickpocketing folk in some of the countries I visited.

Anyway, I certainly didn’t quit my search for a better option.

A SIMPLER METHOD

While working on board a cruise ship in Hawaii, a fellow crew member and good friend of mine once told me that he had faced a similar money-carrying issue as myself. His solution was remarkably simple – a rubber band. I loved the idea and immediately ditched my wallet. My bulky pockets vanished and my money and credit cards never got in the way of my movements. Unfortunately, this only lasted for 2 days, at which time the rubber band broke.

Luckily, all I needed to do was find another rubber band. And even though they broke on a somewhat regular basis, I stuck with this method of money-carrying for just over one year. I eventually gave it up after spending an unsuccessful 2.5 hours searching for a new rubber band one day while in Montego Bay, Jamaica, with my cash and credit cards bouncing around like wild, misbehaving children inside of my shorts pocket.

By the end of those 2.5 hours, I simply wanted nothing to do with rubber bands and so I made the bold decision to abandon all types of money-carrying equipment, to rebel against every method that had ever failed me. Now, when Earl the Rebel would go out, he would just grab his pile of cash and credit cards, chuck it into his pocket, any pocket, and proudly flaunt the chaos and disorganization that resulted.

For two years I carried on in this manner.

UPGRADING TO A HIGH-TECH SYSTEM

It was not until I was backpacking through the Hindu Kush mountains of Pakistan that I started to question the usefulness of my ‘pile of chaos’ method. After all, I was about to cross the border into Afghanistan and certainly such a trip warranted a money-carrying system far more secure than any I’d ever tried before. So a few days before making the overland journey to Kabul, I bought a tough velcro wallet, two rubber bands AND a small chain in the ‘thieves market’ in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

This high-tech wallet system did prove useful in Afghanistan. My cash and cards remained secure at all times as everything was in one bundle, attached to my belt with that chain, allowing me to quickly and safely pull out money while standing on a street corner buying a bag of raisins.

However, the problem occurred when I flew to Delhi a few weeks later, where I decided not to use the chain any more. And on my very first night, someone pick-pocketed my wallet as I walked through a market.

With wallet gone (along with several hundred dollars in cash and all of my credit cards), I didn’t know what to do. So I bought a cup of tea from a street vendor using the change I found in my other pocket. And then I drank that cup of tea.

And as I sipped away I noticed a man buying a hand towel from a street stall next to me. When it came time to pay for his towel, this man pulled from his pocket something that I knew existed, but had never thought to use myself. The answer to all of my problems shone brightly in my face in the form of a well-polished, silver money clip.

THE MONEY CLIP

My first money clip – a narrow, thin, yet sturdy, clip – was purchased in a shop in the town of Savannah, Georgia the day after returning from India. And from the moment I inserted my money and credit cards into this clip, I knew that my long search for the ideal money-carrying system was closer to an end than ever before.

This clip had just enough flexibility in its curve to effortlessly handle both a small pile of cash as well as a large stash of bills and credit cards and so, together we went across the world, this money clip and I, visiting places such as Hungary and Croatia, Argentina and Uruguay, Myanmar and Thailand and Egypt and Jordan.

For 3 years we traveled the globe, during which time we were inseparable, with my long-dreamed-of goal of keeping my money well-protected and organized at all times finally having been achieved.

It was not until 2009 that our bond came to an end. We were at the beach on the island of St. Thomas and as I added a five-dollar bill into my money clip after paying for a Corona, the clip just snapped, too weak from years of dedicated service to carry on any further. Heartbroken, yet thankful for the time we had spent together, I had no choice but to lay that money clip to rest in the white sands of Emerald Beach, leaving it free to relax to the soothing sounds of the gentle waves forever.

THE PRESENT DAY

I have a new money clip now, but it’s not nearly as reliable as my old one. This one often refuses to hold my money tight if I only have a few dollars to hold and sometimes I’ll reach into my pocket and discover that my credit cards are sticking in every possible direction. With that said, we somehow manage, and I still find that a money clip is the most useful method of carrying money while traveling around the world.

But the reason I’m writing this post is because sometimes, the challenges of my current money clip become too much to handle. Today is a good example. While trying to pay for a half dozen bagels at the supermarket this morning, I pulled out my money clip and found that it had failed me yet again, leaving my cash and credit cards and driver’s license all tangled up in one giant mess. Money soon fell to the floor, credit cards were scattered on the counter and I stood there helpless, never before having felt so unorganized in all my life.

The young woman at the cash register looked straight into my eyes at one point and tried to comfort me with her smile. She then shook her head ever so slightly, as if to provide an answer to the question bouncing around my head at that very moment.

That question was…“What is the point of using a money clip if that clip doesn’t actually clip anything together?”


How do you carry your money around while traveling? Have you found the perfect solution?

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Comments 122

  1. AdventureRob

    I loved this post for some reason. Seems such a trivial thing but also something which effects all of us men.

    I always fancied a money clip as they just look a bit more classy than a wallet. But it means a load of coins bouncing around jingling in my pocket if I use that. Plus (this is a bit crude but..) I always carry a condom with me too in my wallet, I have a hidden card pocket to put it in, as having it on show is tactless. Can’t really do that with a money clip.

    So I have a wallet which can hold cash, coins, a rubber and has a chain attached for security (plus chains look cool) just a shame the thing is quite big. (around 10cm x 10cm)

    1. Earl

      @AdventureRob: Yes, the condom is not something you want to put in a money clip. That definitely does not look cool at all. In your case, I’d say stick with the wallet and chain method.

      As for the coins, I rarely carry coins with me and instead throw them all in a cup in my hotel room and then use them all at once to make a bigger purchase. Carrying them around is always a pain especially when they announce my arrival 20 feet in advance.

  2. Sanny

    This post makes me think of Regina Spektor’s song “Wallet”. Very apt:

    “I have no wallet
    I have no wallet
    I keep my cards together with a blue rubber band
    and with a free hand
    I search my pockets
    for pieces of paper and change”

    On another note: loose change drives me mad. I think I’ll stick to a purse.

    1. Earl

      Hey Sanny – That song certainly does sum it up! And I’m not a fan of loose change either, but I rarely carry it around with me. Normally, when traveling, I’ll just keep adding to a pile of loose change in my room and when I’m about to buy something such as a train ticket, I use it all in one go. This ensures my pockets are change free most of the time!

  3. Nick Robson

    In India one used to be able to purchase a sleeveless cotton undershirts that had a large pocket sewn into it diagonally across the front. Into this pocket you could fit passport, cash etc and because the way the opening to the pocket was located it was easy to get into be reaching into through the opening of ones shirt.

    Nick

    1. Earl

      Hey Nick – That sounds like quite a useful undershirt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them during my visits to India but I’ll definitely look out for them the next time I’m there. Although, that seems like something that one could make quite easily. I might have to give that a try. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Jim

    Leaving for Namibia and Botswana in 3 weeks so have done some preparations. Being the canny shoemaker I am, the boots I made have a compartment under the insole for notes and passport copy.
    And my belt has a zippered lining carrying emergency cash, passport copy.

    And I’ll stick with a wallet but it has a velcroed attachment to my belt allowing it to be flipped over and inside my trousers. Pickpockets can feel it when they pat me down, but think it’s in my pocket but it’s not.
    Having done all that, it’s just elephants I’ll need to worry about.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jim – I like the compartment under the sole idea. When I traveled through parts of Pakistan I actually sliced a hole in the sole of my sandals and hid my passport inside. Nobody would ever think to look there. Seems like you have your money carrying methods all lined up. All that’s left is to enjoy your adventure!

      1. Jim

        Thanks Earl. Getting revved up about going now.
        I have found a good tip to be to carry a decoy wallet. An old wallet with defunct plastic cards in it, a few dollars. Pickpockets or muggers will generally observe you for a while, wait to see where you get your money from when you make a purchase. They went for it on a tram in Prague…got away with 10$US.

  5. Lissie

    I agree with you about traditional money belts – but an awful lot of years I have worn a shoulder holster style belt – and got my man to wear one too! It hangs off your shoulder – attached to your bra strap if you wear one – if you don’t wear tight tops its invisible – its not tight against your body so its not hot to wear – I can easily carry 2 passports, credit cards most of my cash in it

    In addition i have the day’s money in a cheap wallet – one that a I can take a single note from without exposing the extend of my wealth to everyone in the market.

    I never leave anything of value in my room

    1. Earl

      Hey Lissie – That shoulder bag solution seems quite logical. Anything that isn’t tight against the body would be a huge improvement over traditional money belts. Thank you for sharing that idea!

      And I know that most people don’t like to leave anything of value in their room but I’ve always left everything in my room – passport, money, laptop. I just figure that there is a better chance of it being stolen as I wander about, dealing with hundreds of people and hundreds of situations than if I just left it in my room. So far, in 11 years, nothing has ever been taken out of my room and I’ve definitely heard of more travelers having their stuff stolen from them while out and about than from their room!

  6. Leslie (Downtown Traveler)

    Thanks for sharing your money keeping secrets! I’ve always thought a money clip would be the worst option. It would involve you taking your entire wad of bills out for all to see, as you thumb through them. Don’t you think that would attract pickpockets or hurt your bargaining tactics at street markets? I like to act like I never have more than a few bucks on me at a time, especially if I am haggling 😉

    1. Earl

      Hey Leslie – It would attract pickpockets normally, but I typically only take a small amount of money with me and leave the rest in my hotel room. I also take a bunch of small bills and put them either in my shirt pocket or in a different pocket from my money clip so that I have easy access to some money for small purchases. I definitely wouldn’t load my money clip up with all of my cash and start flashing that around town. That, as you mentioned, would probably not be a very good idea 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Ian – Well, the money belt does work for some people so if it works for you, then there’s no reason to change! But at least you know you have other options in case you decide to switch 🙂

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  8. Bubba

    Hey Earl,
    Great geeky post, I love it. I think every dude (sorry ladies) goes through the money carrying dilemma. Now that we’re in Thailand, where it’s socially acceptable for guys to carry a “man bag,” I have a sturdy canvas one bought in a market in Chiang Rai, and carry my money, phone, and camera in it.
    I no longer make fun of my wife when she’s searching for something in her purse…
    😉

    1. Earl

      Hey Bubba – I can definitely see you with a man purse 🙂 And I must say this style fits in quite well in Chiang Mai and is a great idea in most places. My only issue is that I always worry that I’ll leave the bag behind somewhere. If everything is on my person, then I don’t worry as much. I tend to be quite forgetful while traveling around!

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  10. Tim Richards

    Glad these methods work for people but I keep imagining myself rustling around for coins in my pocket and notes in a clip, then a transport card or credit card in a – where do cards live in this scenario? Doesn’t seem appealing when the alternative is to have everything organised in a wallet. Just curious – why exactly do people dislike using wallets? Nor criticising, just wondering.

    1. Earl

      Hey Tim – The cards are clipped into the clip along with the cash, making it quite easy to slide whichever one you need right out. Although, I think the other thing to consider is that everyone who has commented has different travel styles. For those who visit mostly developing countries, using a credit card is not an issue as that would rarely be needed. But for those traveling in Europe or Australia, you’d want access to your cards more often. I just find that the wallet takes up more space, basically because of the extra material used to create the wallet. A money clip takes away that material and is much less bulky, making life a little more comfortable while constantly moving from town to town, country to country. Every little bit of extra comfort can make a big difference! But of course, wallets work perfectly well for many people….different styles I guess.

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  12. James

    This could be must next upgrade. I’ve been using a small credit card holder/wallet (just for credit cards and cash) that I bought 5 years ago, still going strong. If it goes, money clip will be next.

    1. Earl

      Hey James – Well, your system must be a good one if it has been effective for 5 years! Perhaps I should be trying your method as none of mine have lasted that long!

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  14. Theodora

    I stash some in my pack for emergencies, along with reserve cards, and use a wallet. If I’m planning on buying stuff — AKA haggling — I’ll ensure there’s not much in my wallet, because it’s not a good look to haggle and then pull out wodges of cash. I do not have a solution for change. At the moment, everything lives in my camera bag.

    1. Earl

      Hey Theodora – I agree about not pulling out large sums of money after haggling. That always does make for an awkward situation. And splitting up money is a must when traveling, something I had not been doing when my wallet was stolen in India 🙂

      I like the camera bag idea. I never thought of that one and the little zipper pocket inside my camera case is always empty anyway. Seems like a perfect solution to me! Thanks for sharing that tip…

  15. uner

    i’ve heard of money clips, seen it used by many, but never attempted to use one. so far i am happy for using my small wallet. when i feel unsafe, i just place the wallet to my pants/jeans front pocket

    1. Earl

      @uner: Thank you for the comment! And if you’re happy with the method you’ve been using then there certainly is no reason to change it! A small wallet is definitely more manageable than a large one and probably as comfortable as a money clip anyway.

  16. optionsdude

    I will typically use a money clip but this past fall while in Honduras on a mission trip used a passport wallet that hung around my neck which I tucked under my shirt. Of course, it left a bulge. Interestingly, we got stuck out after dark since our van broke down. While waiting for a ride, the seven of us were robbed at gunpoint (hence why you don’t want to be out after dark). The robber with the gun patted me down and put his hand right on my wallet under my shirt but he didn’t say or do anything. He ended up with our host’s cellphone, some cash, and a camera but nothing of mine.

    Apparently, nationals carry cheap $4 cell phones removing the SD card and about $1 equivalent in cash to give to the robbers while carrying the remainder of cash in a shoe.

    I found your India story interesting that they were able to get into a front pocket like that. Glad a friendship came of it.

    1. Earl

      @optionsdude: That’s quite a story and glad to hear you were unharmed in the incident. I’m surprised he didn’t take your neck wallet. And I can imagine that locals have come up with ways to ensure they don’t lose much when theft becomes so common. In a way it makes it easier for the robbers and those robbed…almost like a quick transaction.

      And as for pickpocketing of my wallet from my front pocket, it occurred when one man crossed the street and bumped into me right at the same time that two other guys bumped into me as well. So I think it was a team effort, which worked quite well as they were able to keep me sufficiently distracted!

  17. Tijmen

    So far I just carry everything in my pocket. I honestly never really considerd a money clip, sounds like a good solution to prevent the messy collection of bills and cards in my pockets. Thanks for the tip 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Tijmen – For those who prefer not to carry around a wallet, the money clip is perfect. It’s a slightly more organized version than the ‘throw everything in the pocket’ method!

  18. Roy

    For the longest time, I used to the the loose cards and cash in my pocket but I never could keep track of my money. After that I used a card holder and a binder clip (like Jeremy) for a few years. It worked but the binder clip looks too getto!

    When I started traveling, I bought a money belt. A week later I ditched it after hating it. Then I got a fat wallet and loved it. That lasted me years until it got stolen a couple of weeks back. So now I’m back to the card holder and loose cash in my pocket. I think I may get a money clip one of these days.

    1. Earl

      Hey Roy – Our methods always seem to work right until we have our stuff stolen! And then it’s time to rethink and come up with a new system. The loose cash in the pocket is never a bad idea as you can have easy access to it without having to pull out all your cards. I always think the key is having a system that doesn’t require you to flash all your money and credit cards every time you make a purchase. And perhaps you could buy a premium binder clip somewhere, something with some color and a sleek look 🙂

  19. Lorna - the roamantics

    i keep mine in a flat pouch on elastic (is that a money belt?) under my clothes…well i guess right in line with my pants (TMI?? lol) in countries where you have to be really modest, i’ve had to do the turn away-pull out money-turn back routine, but it feels safest there to me! 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Lorna – In terms of safety, the money belt is definitely at the top of the list. Although, it’s probably a good idea to keep some extra money in your pockets so you don’t have to do the turn away-pull out money too often! Thank you for the comment 🙂

  20. krantcents

    When I travel with my wife, we split the cash and she will carry a wallet. If I travel by myself, I carry cash outside my wallet in my pocket and my wallet inside a n attache. So far it works pretty well.

    1. Earl

      @krantcents: That’s a good method too. I also split up my money so that it’s not all in one place, usually stuffing some in my shirt pocket (if I have one) so that I don’t always have to pull out the money clip. Making sure there’s easy access to some small bills without having to open the wallet is a always a good security measure.

  21. Ozzy

    Huh. Great timing. I have been looking for something, anything. I drive a lot. And I hate having to sit on my bulky wallet the whole trip. I usually throw it in a drink holder or something, but it’s still annoys me when I go places and sit. Further more a lot of times I’m not in nice places. I have used the free range money plan a lot with great success. But the money clip is just what I’ve been looking for. Time to look at that Smart Money Clip.

    1. Earl

      Hey Ozzy – The Smart Money Clip seems like the way to go. It instantly eliminates all of the problems of a wallet while keep everything organized and in place. After 11 years of traveling around, this appears to be the perfect solution!

  22. Sharni

    Hey Earl,

    I’ve always just stuck with the ‘wallet inside a (zipped-up) handbag or satchel’ method, for two reasons. 1) When I’m getting my money to pay for something, I can hold the wallet low within the bag, so that no one can see the notes/how much money I have in total. 2) As long as I have the strap of the handbag/satchel slung diagonally over one shoulder (to deter against motorcycle-riding bag-snatchers), I find it to be a very comfortable and safe way of carrying valuables.

    Years ago, I used the ‘neck wallet’ method to hold my money and passport i.e. a flat pouch fastened on a long cord that goes down to the belly, but after a while I just found it too irritating when I needed to get money out on the street…I felt that I practically had to half-undress myself to get to it!

    And I totally concur with your aversion to the money-belt; I can’t stand the chafing-and-sweating factor, the fact that it moves around a lot, and, as you mentioned, the fact that it’s so damn conspicuous when you need to access your money!

    Oh, re the girls’ comments about the ‘bra method’ – I’m also very curious as to how that works in practice! Coz surely holding sharp-edged cards in there would be very uncomfortable! And here in Syria, I think I’d get a great deal of unwanted male attention if I was scrambling around in my bra to wrench out the right notes! hehe. I’m not game to try it!

    1. Earl

      Hey Sharni – The wallet + satchel method works as well. I tried putting a wallet in a messenger bag a few times but I really don’t like to carry around a bag while walking around (I worry that I’ll leave it behind somewhere). And I’ve never tried the neck wallet myself but I can only imagine that would be as comfortable as the money belt 🙂 Another idea that sounds good on paper but in reality is not very comfortable or practical at all!

  23. Untemplater

    Love this post. I have always pondered what is the best method myself. I used a makeshift money belt under my shirt and definitely found it frustrating and scratchy on my skin. I’ve also just used my regular wallet with just the minimum and that worked pretty well bc my wallet is thin. I will definitely think about getting a sturdy money clip before my next trip and will test it out in the store. I’ve always wondered if they were convenient or not. -Sydney

    1. Earl

      @Untemplater: I think you’ll like the money clip although I do recommend trying out a few different types before purchasing one. They do all feel a bit different in your pocket and some seem to hold onto money a little better than others. And the Smart Money Clip recommended by a couple of other readers seems to be quite an ideal option as well.

  24. Bluegreen Kirk

    Not really a big fan of the money clip. I prefer to only carry the money I really need and just one credit card. I have a little card carrier that holds a few bills folded ID and my card.

  25. wing

    Money clip seems like a good idea. When I use a wallet, it always seems to pile up with receipts, leaflets and stuff. At least, with a money clip, this stuffs have no where to go except for the recycling bin. I still live with the money belt. Just to keep my passport safe with me. I split and hide my money though. I don’t know the effectiveness of it but my favourite hiding place – a deck of cards, in between the jokers which I stick together. At least people can’t find money if they just rummage through my backpack.

  26. Jeremy Fischer

    Hey Earl,
    I totally agree with losing the bulk of the wallet. I think the best system is a binder clip. Super cheap, easy to replace but lasts forever and works like a charm even when there is no money to actually clip.

    Have fun,
    Jeremy

    1. Earl

      Hey Jeremy! After trying the binder clip this afternoon, I think I’m in agreement that it is a great system. And when there is no money to carry the clips can be used in many other ways. I will be traveling with a couple of them from now on.

  27. Tim Wuolle

    Great idea with the money clip. Simple is better. Every time I get a wallet it will eventually turn into a “George Costanza Wallet”. I have lost them, and washed them and ended up carrying more things than I actually needed. Side pocket for sure. I’ve never tried the chain wallet. However, at times, I have carried a “decoy” wallet in case I was ever in a situation where I had to give it up. Luckily, that never happened. I’m gonna go out and get a money clip this week. Cheers!
    Tim
    @DiscHighLifeTV

    1. Earl

      Hey Tim – I hope the money clip works out for you! It will definitely reduce the bulkiness of a stuffed wallet, although if you have a George Costanza wallet, there’s probably a lot of stuff in there that you can throw away!

    1. Earl

      Hey Christy – That’s two commenters in a row who use the bra method and I must say, that does seem like quite an effective way to safely carry your money around. I just wonder how you access that money when you need it. When I used the money belt, I thought it strange that if I needed to open it, everyone around me could see that I was wearing one, which seemed to defeat the purpose. As for the bra method, I assume that you can access the money much more discreetly!

    1. Earl

      Hey Fran – Hmmm…you’re right, I don’t think that will work! But I take back what I just wrote about the shoe being the safest place to keep money. I think your method is as safe as it gets. Too bad half of us can’t take advantage of this option 🙂

  28. Jeremy B

    I could pull out my “wallet” right now. Wish I had a picture I could show you as I have used a rubber band for years!! I HATE wallets – too big and bulky. Rubber band is perfect for me and I love being able to put it in my front pocket. I ave up wallets years ago but still use a money belt when I travel.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jeremy – Haha…another fan of the rubber band! It’s funny because I just received an email from the friend I mentioned in the post who inspired me to use a rubber band myself. He told me that he has now given up the rubber band and replaced it with the much stronger band that you find holding a head of broccoli together in the supermarket. He says this band breaks far less often. But I’m with you, no matter what it used, anything is better than a bulky, uncomfortable wallet!

  29. Sam

    I love the imagery in the post, Earl. The idea of your cash and credit cards bouncing around like wild, misbehaving children in your pocket really tickled me and the image of you laying your beloved money clip to rest on a Caribbean beach was very sweet. Personally, I use the wallet-on-a-chain approach and this mostly works for me.

    1. Earl

      Thanks Sam! And I’m telling you, I had a real strong attachment to that money clip!

      In terms of security, the wallet and chain combination can’t be beat. No pick-pocketer is going to get at your money, so I can fully understand why one would go with this method. And there’s also the added bonus of not losing your wallet if it’s always attached to you, which is a reason in itself for most of us to consider that option.

      I hope you’ve been well over the past couple of months!

    1. Earl

      Hey Natalie – Well, you should still be concerned about how he carries his money because if he doesn’t keep it safe and organized, he might lose it and then you wouldn’t have any to spend yourself!

  30. Odysseus

    Hahaha! My favourite part of this is how immediately after getting pick-pocketed, you just fished out your remaining change and bought tea — a response so laid back that it’s hilarious. Sure you’re not British?

    1. Earl

      Hey Odysseus – Haha…I remember touching my pocket, realizing that my wallet was gone and then saying, “Damn” to myself. And then I saw the tea stall and figured that I might as well think about my situation over a cup of hot chai. And that was about all I could think to do.

      The remaining part of the story is actually quite amazing as a man who owns a small shop where you can make international phone calls allowed me to call home for free and then refused to let me leave his shop without taking 1000 rupees ($20 USD) to cover my expenses until someone wired me some money. And I now go and visit this man every time I return to Delhi, so even though I lost all my money that day, it was well worth the friendship that formed in the end!

      1. Odysseus

        Wow, that *is* amazing! It makes me incredibly happy to read the rest of the story in the comment you left. I’ll be happy all day now just thinking about the kindness of strangers who sometimes go on to become friends.

  31. Joel

    I use the hybrid clip wallet, small enough to fit easily into the more secure front pocket (or hidden front zip pocket in my “travelin'” pants), but still keeps the credit card and debit card separate from the money clipped cash for easy access.

    1. Earl

      Hey Joel – Is the “Hybrid Clip Wallet” the actual name? It seems similar to the Smart Money Clip based upon your description, the design of which does seem like the perfect solution.

      And did you ever wear those “travelin” pants while in Chiang Mai?

    1. Earl

      Hey Brian – That is quite a good idea and thanks for that link. Even two binder clips (for added strength) would be an ideal way to carry money and cards around. I’m going to try that out right now…I also liked the other ideas mentioned in that post, particularly the ones for stopping folders from sliding and keeping my cables organized!

  32. Tim Richards

    I don’t think you’ve mentioned coins at all. What on earth do you do about coins if you’re relying on a clip? Some countries’ currencies are very coin-heavy (Poland, for example, has 8 coins) and they soon pile up. I find a wallet with a sturdy coin pouch is essential.

    1. Earl

      Hey Tim – I just toss the coins into my pockets. But I actually pay a lot of attention to them and whenever I have a large amount, I make sure that I use them before using bills. This helps ensure that my pockets aren’t stuffed with coins all the time. Although, I’ve yet to visit Poland so maybe I’d need to change my strategy when traveling over there!

  33. Gillian @OneGiantStep

    If I’m carrying the dough I keep it in a pocket that closes with either velcro or buttons. When J carries money he has a smallish wallet that he carries in the front pocket of his jeans. Small enough to be comfy while sitting yet big enough to hold everything. We had a money belt but never used it. Cheers!

    1. Earl

      Hey Gillian – The idea of a small wallet in the front pocket seems to be the way to go, which is why I’m quite interested in the Smart Money Clip that a couple of others have recommended. It’s a cross between a wallet and money clip and appears to match the criteria that you mentioned. And I wonder how many money belts there are in the world that go unused! It’s one of those things that seems like such a great concept but in reality, isn’t very practical.

  34. jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World

    Funny, Jack and I are just talking about this. Great timing for the post. We still don’t know what to do… I like the idea of just carrying little amount scattered throughout pant’s pockets and backpack with no wallet. Jack likes the idea of the chained wallet thingy. We used money belt before, but have grown to dislike the feel of it lately.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jill – Surely you could compromise and use a combination of both of your preferences 🙂 A chained wallet with a chunk of money inside and then small notes for daily expenses scattered in different pockets!

  35. Lisa @chickybus

    I wear pants with pockets (that stay closed with velcro) and put my money (and my passport) in there. Depending on where I am, I also hide some money at the bottom of my shoe–to keep it separate. I like the pants, though, because it would be hard for a thief to get to them because the pockets are front-facing and right up against my thighs.

    1. Earl

      Hey Lisa – That’s interesting about the pants because when I had my wallet pick-pocketed in Delhi, I was wearing pants with a front-facing velcro pocket with my wallet inside! Somehow, they managed to get to it without me detecting a thing. The shoe is always a great option to keep some money safe and probably one I should use more often myself 🙂

  36. Phil

    Hey Earl,
    Interesting to read this evolution 🙂 I too have made a number of changes over the years, including temporarily using the free for all method of just putting everything in a pocket. Now I am a lot more deliberate: decoy wallet in my back pocket with a little bit of cash, expired cards etc., money belt with the important stuff and then some cash in a pocket that I can access easily. I keep the decoy wallet in the off chance that I am confronted by a thief, but thankfully haven’t had to deal with that. Pretty funny about that money clip 🙂
    Take care,
    Phil

    1. Earl

      Hey Phil – That’s quite an efficient system you have in place! Usually, if I’m somewhere with a higher possibility than normal of being confronted by a thief, I tend to leave most of my money in my hotel room, as well as my passport. I know that a lot of people like to carry everything with them but in 11 years I’ve never had anything taken from my room so I like not having to think about my money while walking around somewhere. I really like the idea of the decoy wallet as such a prop is about as easy, cheap and effective of a security system as one can find!

  37. Matthew Poldberg

    I started using the “Smart Money Clip” over four years ago and I have never looked back. It is great to have in a front pocket as the design contours comfortably against your leg. Mine still holds one card just as well as it does 5. It can hold from one bill to ~35, although after four years the bills feel more secure if there are 2-3 of them.

    1. Earl

      Hey Matthew – Now I’m even more excited about this Smart Money Clip as I placed an order for one myself! I’m not sure how I’ve never heard of this thing before but I guess that’s what happens when I’m rarely in the country. Thank you for confirming John’s comment!

  38. rose

    ps. That money clip recommended by John above looks awesome – I have a similar doodad I picked up in Thailand that fits all my cards, but without the clip. It’s very useful!

  39. rose

    Since I am a girl who always carries a purse (with mandatory water bottle, book, notepad and pens, and a bag of nuts in case I should be dying of starvation), I don’t really have that issue. There is always a zippered pocket on the inside of my bag, and if there isn’t, I make one. And I definitely Always have a smaller change purse that is more accessible so I don’t have to pull out 1000 rupee notes when I’ve finally managed to haggle something down to 15 rupees. I don’t know that I’ve ever worn shorts with pockets 🙂

    Not much help to you, I guess!

    1. Earl

      Hey Rose – Seems like you’re all set with your purse! I think you brought up a very good point about the need to carry small notes in a separate place from larger ones. Sometimes it’s not too wise to pull out all your money just to pay for a tea, so having a more easily accessible stash of small bills and coins is a good solution. And maybe you should try shorts with pockets. They’re quite handy, although not so much in a place like India 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey John – All I can say is thank you for leading me to the Smart Money Clip! I checked out the site and already placed an order 🙂
      That thing looks more than ideal, although I had trouble deciding between titanium, graphite or gun metal!

  40. Terry

    I usually keep most of my money in my shoe and just a small amount in my wallet when I am traveling long distances. Kind of gross I know but it is fairly safe in there.

    1. Earl

      Hey Terry – I agree, gross is better than losing money! The shoe is probably one of the safest places to keep your cash…

  41. kandyce

    i have been on the search for a perfect solution, too!

    usually, i have a travel sized wallet (meaning, fits my passport) with a large wad of cash in it stashed somewhere deep in the recesses of my luggage. i then bring a smaller stash (how much depends on where i’m going/ what i’ll be doing there. more for clothes/ gifts shopping, less for groceries/ eating out) in another, smaller wallet that fits into a zippered pocket of what i’m carrying with me (or, a wad of bills zipped into my camera bag’s inside pocket).

    occasionally, i do take a money belt (i have led several trips requiring me to carry very large sums of money- ie, enough to take care of a group of ten for two-three weeks), and then i stash the stupid money belt in my luggage somewhere and hope no one asks me for said cash while we’re out somewhere.

    money belts. hate.

    1. Earl

      Hey Kandyce – I agree with you about those money belts! Just reading the words makes me shudder.

      I usually break my cash up as well although I rarely carry too much money overall these days given the abundance of ATMs in almost every corner of the world. Normally I’ll stick my money clip in my pocket as well as a few small bills in a shirt pocket in order to have easy access to cash if I need to purchase something small.

    2. Matt | ExpertVagabond

      I use a few options:

      First is a thin dummy wallet. It has my local cash for the day in it, as well as an expired driver’s license & expired credit card. If it gets stolen or I get held up, it’s easily parted with.

      Rather than a traditional money belt, I have simple hidden pockets with velcro tops sewn into all my shorts/pants. They are big enough to hold a passport if needed, as well as my ATM card and extra cash. They cost about $5 each to have someone make them.

      I can easily flip them outside my waistband to get my ATM card, but if my passport is inside, I have to unbutton my pants. This is rarely needed though.

      As a third backup, I made an actual “money belt”. It’s a simple non-leather belt with a zipper sewn into the back. I can hold 5 or 6 $20 bills in there.

      1. Earl

        Hey Matt – You’re definitely well prepared in terms of carrying your money! The decoy wallet is always useful and the hidden pockets are a great form of extra security, especially if they can hold your passport. The passport often seems to be a problem as it just doesn’t fit comfortably in any pocket.

        And nobody had mentioned having such hidden pockets sewn into your clothes yet, so thank you for sharing your methods!

    1. Earl

      Hey Mimi – Haha…I won’t ask you to elaborate! Splitting up money is definitely a good idea and I do that as well, usually only taking a small amount with me when I’m wandering around each day, leaving the rest of it hidden back in my room.

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