Hiding your valuables while traveling: tips for keeping your stuff safe in your hotel room and with you on the go to avoid getting ripped off.
Needless to say, having your money, passport, or other valuables stolen while traveling can really ruin an otherwise great adventure. Even the hotel safe can’t always be trusted–they often have an override code for the staff to use when guests forget how to open the safe. Here are a few tips for hiding your valuables and lowering your risk of being a victim of theft while traveling:
1. Don’t keep all your money in one place.
Don’t bring all your money with you when you go out, and hide it in multiple places on your body and in your hotel room. If you get mugged, chances are they won’t take all of it. I also keep one credit card on me and one hidden in the room, just in case.
2. While walking around, keep everything on your body and well attached to you
Keep your money, passport, and credit cards attached to your body. Money belts, small purses hung diagonally around your body, etc help keep things attached. In the ankle of your sock, in your bra, etc. I just discovered a company called PortaPocket that makes little pockets you can strap to your ankle, arm, leg, waist, etc.
3. Use fake item hidden safes
Hidden safes that look like other items can be really effective ways for hiding your valuables. I would recommend the hairbrush or screwdriver safes over a soda can safe, however. You don’t want the housekeeper accidentally throwing it away thinking it is garbage.
4. Hide things in dirty clothes
I will often hide electronics or passports in socks in the middle of my backpack or suitcase, underneath all of my dirty clothes and underwear. I figure the chances of a dishonest housekeeper really wanting to dig through all my dirty clothes are slim.
5. Hide money in personal products
Pill bottles (not see-through), empty re-useable shampoo bottles, etc. I often put cash and a credit card in a box of tampons (the small non-applicator style kind such as O.B.) and put the tampons on top of it.
6. Find sneaky spots in your hotel room
Inside shower curtain rod or inside zipper covers to cushions are good places for hiding your valuables. Inside a ziplock baggie in the toilet tank might be okay, but I feel like this is the most obvious hiding location thanks to all the drug and crime shows. Also, ziplock baggies are not waterproof so don’t submerge your phone or electronics in water in them. Under the mattress is another one that is pretty obvious–if you do I’d recommend doing it only after the housekeeper has been by to make your bed and shove it towards the middle, not under the edge of the mattress.
Don’t forget that you hid stuff! You don’t want to leave it behind.
7. Tip your housekeeper
If the custom of where you are traveling is to tip your housekeeper, you should do this anyway. However, leaving a tip for the housekeeper may alter a disgruntled housekeeper’s view of you into an appreciative guest, vs another asshole tourist. Maybe not, but it’s always a good thing to do.
8. Use ATMs that are attached to a bank or embedded in a wall, preferably when the bank is open
As a side note, we generally don’t use stand-alone ATMs when traveling. I’ve heard too many stories about stand-alone ATMs being fake or tampered with to read card info or steal your card and tell you that the machine is broken. In reality, someone comes and collects your card or card info later after you’ve left.
ATMs that are part of banks are always the safest bet. If you can’t find a bank ATM, one that is embedded into a wall is the next best option. If you can, try to withdraw your cash during bank hours–there is often a security guard or place to withdraw off of the street, and if your card does get eaten by the machine you can go in and get help.
9. Get a waterproof pouch for the beach
Never leave important stuff unattended on the beach. Get a waterproof waist pouch for your money, phone, etc and take it into the water with you. Lifeproof cases for phones offer extra water protection as well.
There’s never a guarantee that you won’t get ripped off when you travel, but don’t be paranoid–just be smart. Hiding your valuables while traveling is kind of an art, the key being not to keep it all in one place. Do what works best for you, and have a safe trip!