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Hidden Pockets to Carry Travel Valuables

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 [...]

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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

Material for inside pocket

Cut out two pieces of fabric in the rough size of the pocket that you want to make.

Hidden passport pocket

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.

How to make an inside security pocket for travel

Security pocket for travel

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

Put security pocket in front of actual pocket

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.

Travel security pocket sewn into pants

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

Security pocket can be accessed from pant pocket

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

Travel pants

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.

Additional diagram of hidden inside pocket in pants.

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.

Read also Travelers Invite Theft | Hotel Theft in Guatemala | Debit Cards for Travel | Travel Gear Store | Travel Tips

Filed under: Travel Gear, Travel Tips

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3706 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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27 comments… add one

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  • Bob L April 12, 2010, 11:56 am

    Don’t forget to put things in plastic if you are likely to sweat or get caught in the rain. Nothing like having an important document smeared to the point of being unreadable (although, somethimes that is a good thing, especially if counterfit).

    Bob L

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 13, 2010, 10:51 pm

      Essential point Bob,

      Glad that you mentioned this. I keep our passports in a zip lock bag like Dave. It only takes one hot sweaty day to find out just how much sweat can permeate a passport, or one good rain shower to realize that it is essential to always keep the passports in waterproof bags.

      This was a really good point.



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  • The Longest Way Home April 13, 2010, 9:43 pm

    Hi Wade,

    This is very a very good article.

    “Uh, hold on, my passport is stuck in my pants, hold on a minute while I whip this out.”

    Erm, I do actually say this a lot, ha ha. They usually sat to bring it back later. Except for an Iranian guy who didn’t care, thank goodness.

    Good point too from Bob L about sweating into documents. I use a plastic zip-loc bag for this.

    Problem is at airports during the pat down. Strange thing is though, most feel the plastic bag, and do nothing. Makes me wonder what else is getting through!


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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 15, 2010, 12:17 am

      That is really good to hear, Dave!

      Glad there is another person out there who has done this besides me.



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  • Caitlin April 14, 2010, 2:10 am

    Heh. I’m still gonna go with stuffing money in my bra. Not a super helpful tip for you though.

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    • Bob L April 14, 2010, 10:08 am

      This might work for Wade. Think about it, a man with a beard like his, and all those tattoos wearing a bra???? They would never search him. Probably woud not even look him in the eye.

      Either that, or they would bring him in the *back room*


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      • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 14, 2010, 11:58 pm

        I would fear that this may increase the chace of the later haha.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 14, 2010, 10:09 am

      This is a good move, especially since my wife, Chaya, is adamant that hidden pockets is pants are inapplicable for many stlyes of women’s pants.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 14, 2010, 8:03 pm

      Wow! Your bras are big enough to hide a passport in! Yikes!

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      • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 14, 2010, 8:08 pm

        I believe it! I just watched a Mayan woman pull out a cell phone and a pad of paper from between her breast the other day — I am truly amazed about all that can be hidden down there!

        The bra truly has to be the ultimate travel security holster!

        It is only a pity that I lack the means to use one haha.

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      • Caitlin April 14, 2010, 10:16 pm

        Unfortunately I’m not that well-endowed. I hide money in my bra, and sometimes a bank card (though anyone who looked really hard would realize something wasn’t quite right.)

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        • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 15, 2010, 10:09 am

          Haha, I was just joking, but this is a good way to carry around valuables when traveling. Do you think that there could be a way to attach pockets to the sides of the bra stap so that you could carry ATM cards and maybe even a passport in the arm pit area?

          I think I am going to have to go inspecting Chaya’s undergarments haha.



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  • Nath April 14, 2010, 5:29 am

    Another stirling tip, Wade 🙂 A hidden pocket has to be the best way to proper look after your crown jewels. Before i head off I always sew a small pocket in my travelling pants (well, I usually ask my mother nicely as she generally does a more secure job of it than me! lol)

    I go for a pocket int he bottom of the leg though, by the boot, as you dont see any bulge at all that way – people just wouldnt think of looking there. Thats just my variation though, I guess.

    The only probs with that is that it cant be accessed in public so subtly and that bank plastic can be a bit more vulnerable down there to ‘user error.’ I remember treading my jeans down as i took them off after a heavy night out once and heard a strange cracking sound. Oh dear, the next few months travelling with remaing one card was a bit of a concern, especially when the other account got frozen! Doh!

    We live and learn! haha

    safe travels man

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 14, 2010, 10:13 am

      Hello Nath,

      Welcome back!

      I suppose a couple inside pockets may be the best way to do this: one up top where you can get to items if you need them, and one down below for an emergency supply of cash and an additional ATM card.



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  • Bob L April 15, 2010, 10:06 pm

    If you have ever been around a woman who had lived through the depression, and was used to living with only cash, you probably would have seen this: They go to pay something, and reach into their jacket and pull out enough cash. They go to buy something else, and they reach into some other area of their clothing and pull out just enough cash. A little while later they buy something else and they pull cash from somewhere else. They seldom had much cash in any one spot. They almost never had anything in their pocket book that had any value, other than pics of the kids.

    I don’t really know where the men of the depression kept their money, probably in their wife’s clothing.

    I would think keeping money or whatever in a bra would add a small extra risk associated with it, but as long as it is not accessed often or in *public* areas it is probably OK.

    Bob L

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 16, 2010, 9:50 am

      This is true, my grandmother use to keep money safety pinned all over the inside of her clothes — even though she seldom ever left her house. She had a standard operating procedure that she would not let slip even when at home. It is truly admirable and should be emulated.

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  • linda November 15, 2010, 10:53 am

    i carry my money inside my bra cup on a regular basis. i do it just out of habit even if i have pockets on my jeens . i never lost anything its simple and full proof.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com November 15, 2010, 11:05 am

      This is a good way to carry money . . . well, unless, you meet some cute guy . . . and . . . haha.

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  • Lily January 13, 2011, 12:50 am

    I was thinking…you could also sew the hidden pocket to the back of your jeans behind the butt pocket. That way you don’t see the stitching. (I’m fashion conscious 🙂 Then you can make a flap on the inside of the pants so that you can reach into your back pocket.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com January 13, 2011, 9:57 am

      Very true, I have tried putting the hidden pocket inside my pants in the back before, and it does work well. Just don’t put any ATM or credit cards in this pocket, as if you sit on them they can break. A pocket in the back should just be used for money, maybe a passport, and other things that won’t be broken when sitting down.

      I had a friend who sewed an inside pocket into the lower leg of a pair of pants and used it to store his ATM card. Well, one night while taking his pants off while drunk, he stumbled a little, slammed his foot down to catch his balance, and heard a snap sound — the card was now in two pieces.

      But a back or leg inside pocket can be used effectively for carrying less breakable items. Thanks for adding this suggestion.

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  • lisa May 20, 2011, 1:34 pm

    thank you so much! this was extremely helpful. the step by step pictures and illustrations made this very easy to understand and do. thank you a ton!

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  • Jo September 13, 2011, 2:54 pm

    I’ve read in the news lately of TSA agents stealing money out of wallets/purses during the security screening process. How effective is it to hide money in the “secure pocket”. Do you have any advice on how to carry money when going through airport security?

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    • Wade Shepard September 13, 2011, 3:09 pm

      Generally, TSA cannot go into your carry on baggage without you observing them. You go over to a little table, and you WATCH them to make sure they don’t rob you. It is my impression that it is easy to keep TSA agents from stealing from you — just don’t trust them and watch their every move. I do this and I stuff all my valuables into a money belt and put it deep into a carry on bag. There is ABSOLUTELY no reason for a TSA agent to go into a money belt, and if one were to do this I would yell at him very loudly.

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  • Darcy October 20, 2011, 12:15 pm

    The hidden pocket is a great idea and one work around in he stitching is to use that iron-on bias tape so there is no stitching to give away yr secret or ruin your outfit. I’ve also cut a small slit inside the waistband of pants to slip some emergency bills in there. The good news is that most currency is cotton based and actually holds up ok to accidental washing.

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    • Wade Shepard October 20, 2011, 12:29 pm

      I have never used iron-on bias tape, but if it is secure enough then this could make for an excellent adaption to this design. If you have a sample of this, send a photo over as I would love to publish it here. Thanks for this tip!

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  • Janita April 23, 2012, 9:18 am


    I just stumbled across this blog. The idea of a pocket in the underarm bit of a bra really works! I just sewed my own pocket into my bra and it fits a single bank card really snug without bending the card! Great tip!

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