Travel security can be difficult because you are moving around from place to place as you travel the world. You can be safe though and in my travels, I’ve learned one or two things. Maybe even more than that, here’s the place where I’m going to share a few of them with you about keeping your money safe.
I like to travel with some hard cash just in case of a situation arising. The problem with that is that sometimes I feel like the cash itself could pose a problem or create a situation. There really isn’t any getting around it though.
In the places I go, $200 in US currency is enough to get you out of most situations. I also like to have about $100 in local currency in reserve. The problem is, where do you keep it? If it’s in your pocket, any thief worth his salt will find it if they rob you, I’ve never put a lot of trust in ‘money belts’ with hidden places and zippers, and as far as wearing it around your neck with your passport, that’s just great- for the thieves. And imagine this, if you are like me, you probably like to take a swim now and then, what do you do with your belt, wallet, and reserve cash in that situation?
You can’t do much about a guy that charges you too much to go down the Mekong, but here are a few ways to protect your money…in Laos or anywhere.
Here are a couple of solutions that I think will keep your security blanket safe:
1) The old book trick. I look for the least interesting, dog eared, worthless looking book I can find. Something that no one would want to read, but that still might be concievable that you are carrying it around with you. Something like “My life with my Aunt Vera” or a similarly non-compelling title. Slice the cneters of a about 100 pages out, leaving the borders so that you have a hollow pocket inside. Then, glue or tape it. Voila. A piece of velcro can be used to keep it shut. Be sure not to use duct tape as it tests positive with those chemical wipes they use at customs for heroin! I learned that the hard way entering Nova Scotia. (Vagobond violated by Canadian Customs) . Incidentally, no other customs agents ever opened up the book, just set it aside, even at airport x ray machines. The beautiful thing about this method is that when I stay in hostel dorms, I usually pull the book out of my bag in a messy pile with my dirty clothes on my bunk. The pocket is big enough to hold my passport and any cards, etc. Then I leave my sort of valuables like chargers, etc in the bag. I think a would be thief would leave it and take the other stuff, especially since my dirty underwear are on it. My friend Mink Hippie was the one who gave me my first ‘book-locker’ and she also told me the following tip.
2) Hotel room hiding place. If you are worried about the maids and bellboys stealing your cash, why not try this: roll up the bills and put rubber bands on them, less than 1/2 inch wide diameter. either pull the pole from the closet if it is metal and hollow and put the bills in it, or pull the plastic stoppers out of the hollow tube luggage rack.
3) Finally, since I’ve done a fair amount of hitchhiking, I’m usually paranoid that someone will beat me up and steal my loot. I usually cut a small hole in the inside of the waist band of the pants I’m wearing, roll up a couple of hundred dollar bills and push them in since most waist bands of jeans or slacks are made of two strips of material sewn together. Any muggers might take your belt, but they probably won’t think to take your pants.
4) And here is one more tip…ditch your wallet. I haven’t had or needed one for years. I use a rubber band wrapped around my cards with the cash tucked in. I also have a change purse for coins. You can keep it easily in your front pocket which makes it harder for pickpockets and since they are looking for a wallet, they aren’t likely to find it. If you want your rubber band stash to be really secure, put it in your pocket with your pants off, then grab the pocket from the inside and put a big safety pin through both layers. Even you won’t be able to pick your pocket.