SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador- It is my impression that the best place to carry items that you do not wish to lose is in your pants. Not in your pockets, not in a money belt tucked into your pants, but in a hidden pocket hidden inside of your pants.
If someone wants to rob me of everything they need to remove my pants. It could happen, but I think the chore of doing so would be beyond of the work ethic of most street scouring thieves.
When moving from town to town I carry my passport, an ATM card, and a roll of dollars in a hidden pocket positioned in the top front area of my jeans — in a place that is inaccessible to any thief unwilling to pocket pool me — while still being within easy, and socially acceptable access to myself.
There is a trick to this.
“This is the kind of trick that I imagine people think you have a lot of,” my friend Jesse said to me in San Salvador after I explained the inner workings of my hidden pockets.
I had to admit that he was correct.
This entry shows how to make an inside security pocket in a pair of pants that is virtually immune from pickpockets while remaining easily accessible to its owner.
How to make a security pocket
Cut out two pieces of fabric in the rough size of the pocket that you want to make.
Shape the fabric to fit the size of your passport or other documents or possessions you want to carry inside of it — such as debit cards or money.
Make the pieces of fabric so that they match each other, be sure to leave a lip at the top of the bottom piece, as this is going to be the flap that is folded over the top of the pocket to be buttoned.
Now that the security pocket is sewn, cut a slit in the top flap, fold it over, and put a button on it.
Sew pocket into pants
Now that the security pocket is made, can be closed with a button, and is fully functional, it is now time to put it into your pants. I put mine right in front of the actual pocket of my pants. In this way, it looks less like I have something hidden in my pants and I, as you will see, will still be able to access it through my pant pocket.
Try to sew the pocket in with thread that matches the fabric of your pants.
Do not sew the security pocket to the actual pocket of the pants, but in front of it — on the fabric of the pants themselves.
Sew the security pocket to the inside of your pants in front of the real pocket with the front facing in towards your leg.
How to make security pocket accessible
The next step is optional, but I highly recommend it.
The next step is to cut a slit near the top of the outside layer of your pant’s pocket so that you can still access the security pocket without needing to drop trow.
It can quickly become an uncomfortable situation to find that you need to access documents or money that you have placed in your security pocket while in public. How do you tell that officer at a military check point that you cannot produce your passport because it is stuck in your pants? What do you say to the hotel receptionist when you stick your hand deep down into the front of your pants while fishing for your identification?
“Uh, hold on, my passport is stuck in my pants, hold on a minute while I whip this out.”
In point, to use an inside security pocket well and effectively, you need a way to access it appropriately. In most countries it is currently not very socially acceptable to drop your pants in public or to look as if you are fondling yourself — you need a way to get to your travel documents without looking like a pervert.
When I know that I am going to have to produce my passport — such as when crossing borders — I will keep it in a standard money belt that I can easily access. But in circumstances where I do not expect that I will need to use my passport, I keep it in the security pocket.
Sometimes I am caught off guard — sometimes I have had to dig into my security pocket in public. Situations like this have made me realize that it is essential to be able to get into this pocket easily and appropriately. To do this I cut a slit into the front of my pant’s standard pocket which would allow me to stick my hand through to the security pocket.
This is still a bit of a difficult maneuver — not even the best pickpocket will be able to pull this off on you — but it is not as difficult as reaching into your pants from the top.
To make your inside security pocket accessible from your pant’s standard pocket, just cut a slit into the front layer of the pocket near the top (not the bottom!). If you want, you can then put velcro or a zipper on this pocket so that you can close it securely. This is by far the best way, though I do not bother with shutting it up, as I just make sure that I put items into this pocket mindfully — if I don’t then the item will slip down my leg to the floor. I repeat, it is a better move to velcro or zipper shut the access slit in this pocket.
Point of caution
One point of caution is to not forget that you have items in your hidden pockets before washing them — it can be an easy mistake to make.
Security pocket conclusion
In this way, an inside security pocket that can be accessed relatively easily can be constructed and put into a pair of pants. I have used these pockets for many years of travel, and I feel as if this is the best way to carry items that you do not want to lose — you are probably not going to forget your pants somewhere, and few thieves will make you strip before stripping you of your valuables.
Money belts can be removed from your body, misplaced, lost, or stolen, and keeping your documents and valuables in a place that is not right up against your body when traveling is truly a bush league move.
It is my impression that an inside security pocket in your pants is the best place to keep your passport, backup cash, and debit cards when traveling.