I am dangerously curious to explore places with a lot of criminality.

If I were to get robbed on my expeditions, I would lose everything I am carrying, so what would be the best bet for hiding your money and important documents, still keeping them with you, so the robbers would not find and take them?

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    Leave important things at home! Many places where it's likely to be pickpocketed (or even robbed at gunpoint) have much lower incidences of home invasion/burglary.
    – Urbana
    Aug 26, 2016 at 17:47
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    Robbers also know where people hide their valuables, so putting them somewhere inaccessible is unlikely to do anything other than slow things down.
    – phoog
    Aug 26, 2016 at 18:05
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    It's a bit presumptuous to assume that there must be a fool-proof way to hide your money that criminals haven't heard of but it's not even clear you really want that. How do you figure? The robbers will pat you gently and then excuse themselves thinking you don't have any money? One standard piece of advice is in fact to have money ready to be able to give something to robbers and avoid further problems and violence.
    – Relaxed
    Aug 26, 2016 at 21:05
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    There are many "places with a lot of criminality" where getting robbed would be the least of your worries. Why put yourself in those kind of situations unnecessarily? Aug 26, 2016 at 21:41
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    You could do like a Vietnamese lady I was chatting with some years ago and secrete your (preferably fairly compact) valuables in various body cavities. If they get that far, you're probably dead meat anyway. Aug 27, 2016 at 8:00

2 Answers 2


You could still be robbed

First thing you need to remember is you cannot totally eliminate the risk, you can lower it to the point where it becomes acceptable to you. Second, knowing that there's still a non-negligible chance that you'll get robbed, you want to minimize your potential losses. Third, your personal attitude and demeanour are more important than where you hide your money. The best hiding spot is useless if you stick out, act recklessly or look nervous.

Pickpockets who work daily are very good at figuring out where most people hide their valuables, who appears to be wealthy and how to extract what they can't immediately find.

Also note that there's nothing you can do with a gun barrel or knife in your face, just hand it over.

Leave non-essentials at home

The first and most obvious advice, note that cash is not the only valuable and this could include cards, passports (can be forged and resold) or bags. Remember that depending on your location, the local definition of valuable can be much lower than yours.

Avoid cards

It's easy to force someone to max out their ATM withdrawal quota, take out small amounts for the day and leave your debit and credit cards off your person. At most you lose a little cash, as opposed to emptying your account. I usually leave my entire wallet behind and just carry a few bills to get me through the day. You can get prepaid cards before leaving (which you can cancel after returning) and leave your main ones so as to minimize your losses.

Split your items

Don't keep all your money in the same place, the wallet, purse or pants' pockets are the first place they'll check. There are small pouches just for that that you can wear between layers of clothes, some people keep bills in their sock or shoe. If you have many documents don't keep them all in the same sleeve, fold them and distribute them in different places. Make backup copies and store them in a secure and encrypted place.

Don't show it

You can't make it entirely impossible for them to find, just harder to find than on the next person. Don't keep your wallet in your back pocket, don't take out or count money in a visible place, don't take out a wad of bills only to pick one. Check your blind spots.

If you must carry a bag, you can buy one with the zipper facing your back. I keep my passport in an inside zipped pocket, it's not impossible to steal but harder to grab and run. This may sound counterintuitive but public areas with a lot of people aren't necessarily safer.

Use a decoy

You could always carry a second fake wallet meant to fool eventual thieves.

Be aware of your surroundings

It helps to be aware of common tricks used to part you with your stuff.

Dirty bag

Someone tells you your back is dirty and conveniently tries to help you while swiftly emptying your pockets. I had a camera stolen this way even as I was aware of what they were trying to do.

Money changers

In some Latin American countries, money changers work publicly on the street. These guys have lots of cash on them and are easy and frequent targets, stay away from such places if you don't want to become collateral.

Pickpocket signs

Some places post well-meaning 'Be aware of your surroundings' signs. People can be on the lookout for those who will instinctively pat their hiding spots.

Public ATMs

In a lot of countries, ATMs are on a outside wall or in a very public place. There are also non-official ATMs for convenience. Avoid those and use indoor, bank ATMs and have someone watch your back while you do your transaction.

Here's a list of even more common scams

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    "Also note that there's nothing you can do with a gun barrel or knife in your face, just hand it over." There is a real risk you may be killed in this situation even if you do hand it over.
    – jpmc26
    Aug 27, 2016 at 1:34
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    If you're in a really bad place and your organs become a target, you really should not go there.
    – Nelson
    Aug 27, 2016 at 1:56

In my opinion, trying to get out of an armed robbery for less than $100 US equivalent or so is a lot of risk of harm for an utterly negligible amount of money in the greater scheme of things. So plan for a minimum amount in your pocket after all expenses for the outing. You don't want a desperate and violent criminal armed with a lethal weapon and pumped up with adrenaline and/or drugs to be enraged at you.

In cases where I take a certain calculated risk- say going to a market known to have a lot of scams and outright thefts, then I would leave almost everything in a hotel room safe, even some cash. I would keep money in more than one place on my person so I would still have enough money to get back 'home'. Do the minimum with respect to ID that you can in the country (in some places it's illegal to wander around as a foreigner without a passport, and in some of those places it might actually be taken seriously). ATM cards where you could be forced to withdraw large amounts of money are risky- in places where that sort of thing happens you can not carry them, or have the maximum amount you can withdraw per day reduced to something tolerable. Or find insurance that would cover it. A credit card such as Amex is probably safer.

If you are going to be doing things that go past 'risky' into the illegal arena such black market money changing, illicit drugs, prostitution and such like you are taking a much bigger risk since you will definitely be dealing with criminals and they have an excuse to get you into a private place. I suppose a money belt would help unless your evening's plans include disrobing completely. Best not to.

Although I have yet to be robbed or attempted to be robbed by any method but stealth or intimidation, I do try to have sufficient resources available that, were I to awaken naked in a ditch, I would still be able to get on a flight home without too much additional trauma. Electronic copies (or photocopies in the old days) of all important documents, card numbers and bank phone numbers, some cash, perhaps in an inconvenient currency for example.

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