How to use a money belt in Italy: It’s not a Fanny Pack

As you read this article, I can almost imagine what you are thinking. Although I’m not a mind reader, I did have some similar thoughts while planning my first trip to Italy.

“I don’t need it, I’ll notice if someone tries to take something from my purse.”

“That’s ridiculous, I would feel someone taking out my wallet from my back pocket,”

“A money belt? It seems safe enough. It seems safe enough.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

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People who traveled to Italy without a money belt or had nothing stolen will tell you that it’s not unusual. This is actually a good thing. Many people have had their belongings stolen from their pockets or purses. It’s better to travel safely than to be sorry.

This is not to suggest that Italian cities are dangerous or heinous. My personal experience shows that they are not more dangerous than other similar cities around the globe. If you don’t take the necessary precautions, you are just as likely to get pickpocketed in London Paris Athens Rome, Paris, Athens or London. A money belt is one of those precautions.

It seems that buying it and using it correctly are two distinct things. I cannot count the number of times that I have seen people wearing money belts on top of their clothes. This is, as you probably guessed, incorrect. A money belt’s purpose is to conceal any extra cash or credit cards from pickpockets. You’re not letting the money belt do its job if they can see it.

This is how to use a money belt anywhere in Italy or abroad.

  • Place a ziploc bag in the money belt’s pouch. If it doesn’t come with one, you can grab one from your pantry and put it inside. You’ll sweat if you wear a money belt all day. To prevent your money from getting wet, put your cash, credit cards and other documents inside the bag before you place the bag in the money belt.
  • Only carry one credit card or debit card. You can only bring one credit card or debit card to Italy. Keep the rest in your money belt.
  • Only keep the money you will use on a given day in your wallet. Don’t store all of the cash that you have withdrawn. You should withdraw more money and pay less fees to the Italian bank machines. This means that you will have more cash than you actually need each day. Keep most of your cash in your money belt and not your wallet.
  • Keep important documents in your wallet. in your money belt, too.
  • You should wear the money belt under your pants. This is crucial. The money belt acts as a layer between your pants and your underwear. It is not intended to be easy to access. It is meant to protect your valuables.
  • Similar money pouches are available, which are worn around the neck with a string. However, I find them unflattering as a woman. I can’t hide them unless I wear a thick coat. If you prefer the money pouch option though, it’s worth considering. These are the same rules.

    What happens when you find a restaurant that looks amazing, has rave reviews, takes cash and seems to cost more than you have in your pocket? You run to the restroom during your meal to get more money out of your wallet.

    What happens if you buy something in a shop but don’t have a credit card? There’s no place to hide in the bathroom. Without disrobing, you can still pull your money belt from your pants.

    It can be awkward. It can be awkward, but it is worth it for how awkward your vacation will become if your wallet and all of your credit cards disappear.

    I don’t want to make you think that Italy isn’t safe. It’s not easy territory and should be approached with caution. You’re not looking at the beautiful church facade from home and aren’t distracted by your purse because you pulled out your camera. Traveling can be overwhelming. It’s easy for you to forget the smallest thing, like someone slipping your wallet out of your pocket while you’re riding on a packed bus.

    Every crowd has someone who could be a potential target for a thief. You don’t have to be that person.

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