Where to hide valuables

Old Mar 31st, 2003, 05:05 AM
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Where to hide valuables

I'm going to be travelling all over Europe for a month this summer and I plan on bringing $1,000 in cash, $1,000 in travelers checks, also one visabuxx (sort of like a gift card for minors) credit card. I'm going to stay in hostels rather than hotels because I am on a budget. I will also have one sony camcorder, digital camera, and 35mm.

What I would like to know is:
- is it safe to leave most of that in a hostel safe (are the staff that trustworthy??)
- I was thinking of carrying one of those hidden money belts around my neck under my shirt. All of that money would be sooo bulky that I'm considering removing the cushion crap in my bra and hiding it there. Bad idea?
- Should I carry my passport, California Id, and travel tickets on me at all times?

I'm worried that if I leave all of these important things in my backpack at the hostel, they may get stolen. Any advice?

Thanks alot!=)
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 05:15 AM
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First bit of advice: Open a checking account so that you can get an ATM card rather than carrying all that cash and those travelers checks.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 05:28 AM
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ira
 
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Hi Calipinay,
As Amex used to say, "Never carry more cash than you can afford to lose".

There are a number of posts on this topic, for which you can do a text search.

Most people agree with Howard. You should have a few hundred dollars in TC's, a few hundred dollars on your person, and an ATM card.

All of those cameras are going to be rather heavy. I have learned that there are very few photos that you will take that are better than the ones you can buy at the souvenir shops.

Your camcorder can be used as a still camera, since there are digital devices that can capture screen images.

If you must load yourself down with all of that photographic equipment, don't keep it in a backpack. Wear it with the straps diagonally across your body.

My wife and I both use a small travel wallet on a string that goes around your neck to carry CC's, passports,tickets, etc that won't be needed often.

Safety pins on your pockets also help.

If you have a passport, you don't need a CA ID card. Make photocopies of your passport, credit card, plane tickets and keep them in your sock.

Have a great trip. Look forward to your report.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 05:31 AM
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As mentioned above, consider bringing much less cash and travellers checks and getting an ATM card instead. You can find ATMs in virtually every place in Europe now. Much easier, much better exchange rate, and much less chance of theft. Also charge as much as you can to credit cards (not sure what limits apply to visabuxx); again safer and better exchange rate. You might want to consider getting a regular credit card (or get one from your parents and leave the cash with them as a deposit against charges).

Hostel safes are better than leaving things in your room, and theoretically the hostel is responsible for things stolen from the safe, although I bet it would be very hard to collect from them (as opposed to a hotel). I would not leave my cameras in a hotel safe, too tempting. Travellers checks and plane tickets (i.e. things that you can replace) are OK. Carry the traveller checks numbers with you at all times, and leave a duplicate set at home where someone can give you them over the phone if you need them.

Your cameras will be very tempting, especially the camcorder. You might want to re-consider these, esp. if you are travelling alone and won't have anyone to help you keep an eye on these. This is a lot of stuff to carry sightseeing everyday in your knapsack, you might want to consider just bringing one (maybe the digital camera, you can download pictures at a cyber caf� and send them home).

If you are alone or travelling with other women, consider staying in convents rather than hostels. These are generally women-only, are very clean and may be slightly safer. Drawbacks is that they generally have a curfew around midnight or so and doors are locked if you are late. Run a search here for suggestions on convents, and look at the Lonely Planet webiste and guidebooks, mentioned below. Some convents take men and/or families as well.

Money belts are a good idea. Buy a cotton one as opposed to synthetic as you will sweat (money will get wet anyway).

I generally leave my passport in a hotel safe, but in a hostel I would probably not do so -- ask yourself how much of a pain to replace it if it is stolen. It is easy to fit this and your ID in a money belt.

Finally, you might want to post this same question on the Lonely Planet website chat room for Europe (lonelyplanet.com, chat room is called Thorn Tree Posts). Lonely Planet is a great site for budget travellers, as are their guidebooks.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 06:57 AM
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Thank you for replying so soon!
I'll bring less cash and traveler checks then. I suppose I can do without the 35 mm but the digital camera and camcorder have to come.
I've already copied and pasted your replies onto a word document just in case I'm unable to find this thread later on.

Ira: If I wear them across my chest out in the open all of the time, wouldn't that attract alot of attention? Heh, so it's no on hiding things in my bra, yes to hiding them in my sock. Got it- thanks for the advice.

Cicerone: Convents, I've heard of people doing that but two of the people I'm travelling with are male. I'll look into it though.

Everything you said made sense and I
really appreciate both of you taking your time to help and if I see you online again I'll let you know how everything went.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 07:44 AM
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The people who've already written have given you excellent advice. I'll add a few more things. Another great budget travel Web site is www.ricksteves.com. Read Rick's travel tips there and visit the Graffiti Wall to read what others have posted. If this is your first trip to Europe, I strongly suggest you buy the 2003 edition of Rick's book, _Europe Through the Back Door_, which is full of helps for independent travelers. While its focus is mostly on people who will be staying in modest hotels and B&Bs, there is a good section on hostels. Your local library probably has an earlier edition. Take a look at it before buying the new one. You might think about buying small padlocks to secure the zippers on your backpack while you're wearing it as well as when you're in a hostel. A cable with lock is a good thing to use to secure your pack to your bed or to a rack on the train, etc. If you carry your cameras outside your pack, you might want to buy a bag with a strap that is big enough to hold both of them. Just make sure it doesn't look like a camera bag that will shout, "Expensive cameras inside!"
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 08:05 AM
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ira
 
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Hi Calipinay,
You ask
>Ira: If I wear them across my chest out in the open all of the time, wouldn't that attract alot of attention? <

When you are out sightseeing, every time you open your pack to remove your camera you let people know where the camera is anyway.

I think it is more difficult to snatch it if it is on a strap diagonally across your body, but that is just my way of doing it.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 08:10 AM
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Hi Calipinay

If you post the responses into a Word document, you may miss posts that are added later. Just click on your name and your post will come up. Or you can type your name into the text search box at the top of the page and press find.

Have a great summer!
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 08:40 AM
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Hi - you've gotten some good advice, but I thought I would chip in too.

It sounds like you are or recently have been a student? (i.e. you can still get the under-26 Eurail pass?) You might want to check out the Let's Go series or the Berkeley Guide series of guidebooks as they specialise in places to stay for people of your age group. Time Out also provides some more "hip" suggestions, especially for the cities. I find Rick Steves caters for an older but still budget minded crowd in terms of lodging and food.

When I was a younger traveler hostelling my way around Europe, here's how I managed. I kept my tickets/passports/etc. in a pouch around my neck and under my shirt. While travelling, I found a different bag (kind of a larger groovy purple leather bag, about the size of a pocket camera case) that was too big to fit under my shirt, so I wore it diagonally across my body. Seemed to work fine. I had two separate wallets in there, one for my daily money and expenses and one for the passport/tix/etc. Otherwise, keep your doc's under your shirt in a neck pouch - much more comfortable than a belt. I kept copies of my passport/tix/and TC numbers, etc in my backpack. There actually was a sort of secret compartment in the back near the straps which worked perfectly. If you don't have anything like that, make sure someone at home has these so can fax them to you in an emergency. I never hid anything in my bra or socks... too uncomfortable.

TimS is right. You will want to put those little locks on your zippers. Combination locks are probably easier than key locks (you don't have to worry about losing the keys). I never needed to lock my bag to the overhead rack, at least in Europe, but it's not a bad idea. Different hostels have different energies and some are safer than others. I've stayed in some really nice ones where I would practically not even need to lock the locker, and some pretty dodgy ones, where I used my bag as my pillow, not trusting the rickety lockers or the other guests. Just use your common sense.

I would carry your cameras with you in your small day-pack. Just be aware of moving it to the front of your body when you get on any of the tubes/metros or crowded buses.

When I was a younger traveler, ATMs were not as prevalent as they are now, nor was there a single currency, so I did something differently to how I would now. Now I would suggest to carry very little cash and just access it via ATM when you need it. If you get an ATM card, make sure you get one with a 4-digit pin. (I've read on this forum that apparently some US cards give you a 6-digit pin and those don't work over here)

Also, if there is any way for you to get a student card, you will get loads of discounts all over, especially at places like museum entrance fees, some restaurants, etc.

Have a great trip!
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 11:38 AM
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Good advice so far, may I add:

If you do carry a large amount of cash you might want to buy one of the belts meant for men from a travel catalog. These look like normal leather belts but have an inside zipper to stash cash. This is only for bills, not documents, etc. as a neck pouch or waist pouch would be.

Get an ATM card.

The cameras will be your biggest problem/temptation. Note that theft in youth hostels is more likely to come from other travelers than the staff.

Definitely check out:
Lonely Planet's BB called Thorn Tree
Rick Steves guidebooks & website

They are *much* more geared towards the kind of trip you describe than Fodors.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 01:08 PM
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As was said above, if you are a student/young adult, the Lonely Planet Web site might give you information that will be a better "fit" than Rick Steves. Although I haven't read it, Lonely Planet has a new edition of _Europe on a Shoestring_ that I assume would be a good introduction to independent travel with the LP flair and touch.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 04:41 PM
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One mlre thing you might want to consider. My daughter's friend was backpacking and camping through Europe. His tent was stolen from the overhead rack in the train. One of those bike locks with the padlock and flexible coil is a good idea so you can lock your pack or whatever to a rack. This isn't going to deter anyo0ne if you need to leave something unattended in an untrafficed place for a long period of time. But, it will stop the opportunistic thief. Plus the length of the coil will allow you to lock several different things together. One more thing I thought I'd mention that is a little off the subject. After my daughter spent time backpacking she lusted after one of the packs that converts to wheels. She said she was awfully tired of carrying the pack when she could have been pulling it some of the time. Eagle Creek and other manufacturers make some that are quite nice.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 06:37 PM
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I would not leave valuables in the safe. I heard it is not safe, maybe safer. In one hotel, they just left a big safe door open.

Travelers checks are not as useful as 10 years ago. In major countries, an ATM is helpful. In minor countries, I don't know.

I used to be stupid. Once in Australia, I lost an envelope with US$2000 inside. Surprisingly, it was returned to the lost and found at the hospital that I was visiting! Because of this, I have a fondness for the Australian and think that they are honest. I also don't carry so much money now.
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Old Mar 31st, 2003, 11:18 PM
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Even though many people advise you to use a safe to keep your valuables, you need a method of keeping valuables with you since not all the places have a safe and on the day you are travelling, you need to keep them with you anyway.

Since you mentioned visabuxx and not ATM, I am guessing that you are not old enough to be eligible to get a checking account on your own?

Assuming this is the case for you, here is what I have done for my son. The bank allows you to open a savings account for a minor with an ATM card. PAY NO ATTENTION TO THIS SETUP! While I have read that there are ATMs in Europe that can access a savings account, my son did not find any such ATM.

As soon as I found out the problem with his ATM card, I went to the bank, open a joint checking account in his and my name (to overcome age eligibility for a checking account), linked the new checking account to his card while he was in still in Europe and viola! he could get money from any ATM in Europe.

With tighening airport security forcing all carry on items including films to go thru the x-ray machine, (FAA allows you to request a hand inspection, but they gave me a hard time last week. And of course, outside USA, FAA allowances don't mean a thing) it is best not to take 35mm equipment if it is interchangable to you with a digital camera.
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Old Apr 1st, 2003, 12:13 AM
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When we were in Europe, my wife had a bag from the Gap. (OK, Ok, but it looked mice and simple). It's too big to be a purse - looked more like a small mailbag or newspaper carrier bag. Hey, I waasn't embarrassed to be carrying it too...ha ha.

It had a flap that folded over and the main pocket under that was zippered. Inside were several more zipper pockets, and a snap hook for key rings etc. Worn like a mail bag, but pulled more across the front, it was pretty secure. Never had a problem.

The only problems we had were some incompetent Albanian-looking goofs who tried to pick my pocket with the old squeeze play in a NOT-crowded Milan subway!

This bag could hold a medium camera (my Fuji 4900Z digital) and assorted other useful stuff - sweater or jackets, snacks - plus passports, plane tickets, travellers cheques, etc. in pockets in the pocket.

I saw a lot of people (especially girls) touristing in Europe 10 years ago whoo were walking aorund with their backpacks on their front. If you have to do this, find a better option. Also, if you're carrying along a jacket - wrap the camera(s) in the jacket, tie the strap to something inside your bag... Anything to make a sneak thief or bag slasher's job that much more difficult. It's a mminor effort...
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