A money belt might not be the coolest accessory, but travel pro Rick Steves wears one and so should you.

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For more than 40 years, Rick Steves has made a living giving travel advice. From his public TV show “Rick Steves’ Europe” to his guides, he helps people get the most out of their travels.

For decades, Steves has recommended a money belt to secure cash and valuable documents on the go. A money belt is a secret belt worn under your clothes. It has small compartments to store cash, credit cards and other flat items you don’t want to lose.

Insider recently interviewed Steves and we learned why money belts are so important.

Why Steves still uses a money belt

Rick Steves holds up the Civita Moneybelt with a selection of travel gear in the background.

Rick Steves with the money belt he designed.

The Europe of Rick Steves


“I bring a money belt for times when I feel like I’m going to be on the road,” Steves said. “It’s a good idea to have things attached to my waist under my clothes, as far as my valuables go.”

Steves slips his money belt into his pants, over his underwear, like a shirttail. He wears the money belt in the front on his lower stomach, but if you prefer, it can also be worn with the compartments in the back.

Thieves tend to target tourists as they are often carrying large sums and may not be aware of pickpocketing schemes. A money belt evens the playing field since would-be thieves can’t steal what they don’t know is there. For this reason, Steves believes a money belt is safer than a wallet, fanny pack, or purse.

In an article on Steves’ site, he recommends keeping the following in the money belt:

  • Passport
  • Train ticket
  • Driving license
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Cash
  • Telephone numbers, addresses and other important information

If you’re traveling where you’re at risk of getting wet, Steves recommends putting items in a Ziploc bag before storing them in your wallet.

Steves recommends a money belt he designed

The Rick Steves Civita Moneybelt is displayed with a passport and credit card.

The Civita wallet belt.

The Europe of Rick Steves


When we asked Steves about his travel essentials, he recommended the Civita Moneybelt. We don’t usually include recommendations from a source who has a financial stake in a product, but in this case Steves designed the money belt to his specifications and actually uses it.

The Civita Moneybelt has an elastic waistband that can accommodate waists up to 72 inches. It has a thin and strong loop to easily clip it on and take it off. There are two zippered compartments: one for larger items like cash and your passport, and the smaller pocket for credit cards. It also comes with a lifetime warranty that it will be free from defects.

If you don’t want to wear a belt while travelling, Steves’ product line has you covered. The Civita neck wallet works much like the money belt in that it is hidden under your clothes but hung around your neck, instead of around your waist. The Civita hidden pocket has a loop through which you put your belt and turn the pocket inside your pants. Watch Steves demonstrate the money belt, coin purse, and hidden pocket in this video.

Another money belt to consider

traditional knowledge

The Peak Gear Travel money belt.

Amazon


If you’re suspicious of Steves direct interest in a product he recommends, there are plenty of other money belt options available. Insider Reviews reporter Kelsey Mulvey tested an RFID blocking money belt and said it was the smartest travel accessory she’s ever bought. She tested the Peak Gear Travel Money Belt, which is one of the highest rated models on Amazon.

Peak Gear’s RFID blocking money belt prevents thieves from scanning and using your credit card. It is also backed by a lifetime warranty.

Children can also benefit from a money belt

Steves recommends children learn to take ownership of their travel experience. This includes managing their money. “I think it’s fun for kids to have their own money belt so they can be responsible and take care of their money.” He also suggests giving them a modest stipend, so they can buy souvenirs.

The bottom line

A money belt is a sub-$20 purchase that can save your vacation from disaster. Whichever money belt you choose, remember to always wear it when you’re on the go and keep it under your clothes and out of sight. But, above all, enjoy your trip, and as Steves says “Keep traveling!”

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