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Label Travel Funds- Travel Tip #13

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Label Travel Funds- Travel Tip #13

On the Road I keep my travel funds spread out all over my body my bags to protect against absolute loss or theft. I put a little money in the secret inside pockets that I have sewn into my pants, I stash a little in a pocket of my vest, distribute $20 bills through my bags, keep a twenty in my hat band, and then keep what is left in my money belt. Experience has taught me that widely distributing my funds is the best way to travel with money. But there is only one problem: with all of my funds spread so liberally around my clothing and baggage, I have found that it is difficult to remember exactly how much money I put where. So this leads me to this travel tip.

I have found it to be true that opportune, and often times otherwise good, people will nick a few dollars here and there from a traveler if they can. I am talking about hotel staff, baggage carriers, fellow bunk mates in hostels, taxi drivers etc . . . When this happens, the theft is often times only a portion of the total amount that is available to be stolen, which lowers the risk of detection by making it very difficult for the traveler to know if and when he has been robbed. Seriously, when I keep inexact amounts of money of various numerical denominations stuffed into numerous hiding places, I am not really going to be able to tell if a small portion of it has been nicked. I have often sat in hotel rooms counting my money while trying to figure out if any of it had been taken by the cleaning lady who broke in to my room against my directions earlier in the day, or if I had just spent it somewhere. Keeping my money in such an indeterminate manner annoys me. I do not like thinking these thoughts:

“Did the hotel worker somehow undo the locked ties on my bag and nick $30, or did I just spend it last week when I crossed that border?” I have thought about these questions more than I like to admit over the years, so I came up with a method to curb these insecurities:

Labeling my money.

The above photo shows how simply I label my travel funds. I just write the amount of money that is in the bundle on a piece of scrap paper along with the dates of any transactions. Therefore I know if a few dollars were nicked or I just spent them and forgot about it.

It is simple. I know that I am never going to remember how much money that I keep in which location, especially when the amounts are constantly changing as I travel. So, to take the place of my memory, I have simply inserted pieces of scrap paper in my rolls of money which label its value as well as the dates that the amounts are established. When I add or spend money from a given bundle, all I have to do is cross out the old value on the scrap paper and write in the new while penning in the date of the transaction. It is simple, and it is akin to balancing a sort of vagabond checkbook. This can also be done a little better by sticking your money in an envelope and always keeping track of the value by writing it on the outside. By doing this you would know it if a shady hotel cleaning lady was to nick $20 from your pants pocket, as they probably would not know what the scrap paper signified or be able to reproduce your handwriting sufficiently to change the amount that is labeled on it (or perhaps an obvious money label could potentially scare off a weak willed thief?) .

But I must say that labeling travel funds does far more to provide a traveler with a good state of mind rather than preventing theft. Once money is gone, it is gone; no matter how many labels you put on it. I just do not like wondering if I was robbed. I keep my money in very secure places, but if someone was to nick something from me, I would at least want to know about it so I could avoid similar places and situations farther down the Road, or alter my strategies for carrying money.

This is my travel tip; pick it up and use it, or leave it behind in your dust.

But, as always, be sure to walk slow,


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Filed under: Money, Travel Tips

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3134 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Zhushan Village, Kinmen, TaiwanMap