Most travel experts recommend storing at least some of your cash, a backup credit card, and your passport in a bag inside the hotel safe, but even those aren’t 100% secure and the hotel usually can’t be held liable for theft.
The number 1 key to keeping your travel money safe from thieves is this: divide and conquer. Never keep all your travel cash in one place.
So, we searched around for the best and most clever advice for hiding at least some of your money in your hotel room, in your rental car, and on your person. For many of these 007-style moves, you’ll need:
- a few small zippered plastic bags
- some tape, like duct tape
- a small screwdriver
- a rubber band or two
Once you’ve separated your cash into piles and put them into separate zippered bags, squeeze the extra air out of the bags and let’s start hiding!
In your hotel room
Many travelers don’t trust the in-room safes because there’s always a way they can be opened. Often, and especially on cruise ships, they often have a common code that is well-known by the staff who must help travelers who forget how to open their safes.
Some hotels now offer newer in-room safes that let travelers set their own code. These are more secure, but in a pinch, it’s still likely that they can be opened by someone on the hotel staff.
Here are the most clever recommendations we could find for hiding money in a hotel room:
- Inside the shower curtain rod
- Inside zippered cushions on chairs in the room
- Inside the frame of older televisions – use the screwdriver to take off the back
- Inside older telephones – use your screwdriver here too
- Taped to the bottom of a drawer – use the bottom drawer, it’s harder to reach
- Inside the cover on the ironing board
- Taped to the bottom of a heavy piece of furniture in the room
- Dropped inside the toilet tank
- Inside an empty shampoo bottle with a little tissue paper on top
- Under the mattress – pushed to the center, and only after the bed has been made for the day
We even read recommendations of cutting the hems of window curtains and storing cash in there, or pulling up the carpet in the corner of the closet and storing cash in there. Now we know why some hotels look a little on the ratty side! But we don’t recommend destroying property to store your cash.
Just make sure you remember where you hid all your money and give yourself a little extra time before you leave to retrieve it from the hiding places!
In your rental car
Here are the most clever recommendations we could find for hiding money in your rental car (again, you’ll probably want to put the money inside zippered plastic bags first):
- Lock it in your suitcase, and secure the suitcase to the vehicle with a cable
- Slide it in a battered dog chew toy – thieves aren’t looking for tattered stuff
- Inside an empty quart of oil tossed in the trunk
- Taped under the back seat – many back seats lift up
- Taped inside the console or door – you’ll need your screwdriver and a little engineering skill here, but most car parts can be removed with a screwdriver and offer great hiding places
- Taped under the floor mats
Of course, this advice won’t help if thieves steal the entire car, so be sure you have cash stored in some other places and see our recommendations to Avoid Rental Car Break-ins and Theft.
On your person
Most travel experts swear by money belts, and there are alternatives to the standard waist money belt, such as neck wallets and leg money belts worn around the thigh. As pick-pockets have learned that travelers love money belts, they’ve discovered ways to rob them of those money belts – even slicing them off some travelers.
Of the money belt options, current advice is that the leg money belt is the safest right now.
In keeping with the theory of ‘stash it in multiple places’, there are other places you can safely hide money on your person, including:
- In your sock or in your shoes (try under the lining), unless you’re wearing flip flops or sandals
- Many pants and jackets now come with hidden interior pockets – fold up some cash and store it there
- Cut a hole in a waistband or in the cuff and slide some cash in there
- Many female travelers recommend storing some cash in their bras
- Travelers also have the option of trying out the men’s styled brief safe (which comes in clean and dirty options)
General money safety reminders
Of course, keep these common-sense money safety reminders in mind at all times (not just when you travel):
- Be discreet with your money in public – so you don’t draw attention
- Carry small bills and only the cash you need for the day
- If your pockets have fasteners, use them – ditto for zippered purses and backpacks
- Money and wallets go in the front pocket of your pants
- Wrap money and wallets with a rubber band – makes them stickier and harder to steal