Over the years Kevin and I have had the good fortune of traveling to quite a few countries. In terms of personal safety, I’d say we’ve experienced most segments of the continuum. Or is safety a misconception? Travel to any large city makes one a target for pick-pockets and other petty crime. We’ve heard about it, witnessed it and more disturbingly, have been the victim of a skilled pick-pocket and have been robbed at gunpoint.
Our Central American trip earlier this year consisted primarily of countries that are wonderful to visit but on the low end of the personal safety continuum, so we had the opportunity to acquire vast knowledge on keeping valuables (passport, credit/debit cards, cash) safe during travel. When gathering with seasoned travelers or staying in hostels, safety was consistently a topic of conversation as there was always someone who had a personal story or two. While sparing you the details, I think we all agree that it’s important to keep one’s passport safe when traveling.
Money belts: Pro’s and Con’s
During our Central American trip both Kevin and I wore a lightweight money belt where we carried our passport, an extra credit card and most of the cash from the most recent ATM visit and a small amount in American dollars. While this is much safer than carrying these items in a small bag or purse (can be left behind) or in a wallet (eeks – easy target for a pick-pocket), we learned of another option. The downside is that pick-pockets and thieves know that travelers wear money belts. On a few occasions we heard about travelers whose pockets and money belts were emptied.
The Alternative: Inside Safety Pocket
Joe T., whom we met in Guatemala and traveled with for a few days, fits into a category of his own. For 40 years he’s traveled in Central and South America for 2-3 months each year, staying in hostels and lower end hotels. When on the go, he keeps a low profile, carries few items of value and he doesn’t wear a money belt. Instead for 40 years he’s had “an inner pocket” sewn into each of the pants he wears on the trip. This is such a simple option. After telling us about the pockets and learning that I sew, one evening he brought me a pair of his jeans so I could check it out.
Pattern and Tutorial:
- 7″x21″ strip of cotton or mesh fabric.
- 8″ strip of narrow elastic
1. On one of the narrow ends, turn over 3/4″ of fabric to make a casing for the elastic.
2. Run one line of stitching to form the casing. Note: If using fabric which ravels, you may need to zig-zag or serge the edge. In these photos I use one fabric of each type to demonstrate the differences.
3. Slip the elastic into the casing.
4. Stitch back and forth several times across the elastic to keep it in place.
5. Pull on the unsecured end of the elastic to form a gather as in the next photo. (Elastic should be 1″ shorter than the width of the pocket).
7. Fold the fabric to form a pocket about 7-8″ long.
8. Stitch the sides of the pocket, backstitching on both ends of the seam. Note: Very important to back-stitch to prevent the stitches from letting go on the first wearing!
The pocket should be on the inside of the existing front pocket of the pants (or skirt) and at least several inches from the waist of the pants. When in public the pocket will not be accessible to either the wearer or a would-be thief.
Hand-sewing the Pocket into Pants or Skirt
1. Fold over 3/4″ on the top edge.
2. Pin in place
3. Hand sew with a double-strand of thread using small stitches.