Gaybutton wrote:If someone has a need to travel with "loads of cash," that's what travelers checks are for . . . Traveling with a large amount of actual cash is not a bright idea, especially if you're going to keep it in your room and even more especially if you're going to be bringing strangers to your room along with being negligent about keeping your money and valuables secure. That's a theft waiting to happen
Having travelled extensively I know that travellers cheques are often of little use. I have certainly never used them for probably 25 years. When visiting countries like Nepal, Bhutan, parts of India and South America I have always taken only cash. Similarly, in Iran last year travellers cheques would have been impossible and credit/debit cards were
impossible. It was cash or nothing. There I had to enter the country with enough to cover the balance of the fee to the tour agent, 13 days in the country and all possible emergencies like hospital bills. Even overseas banks can not remit cash in to Iran, thanks to US sanctions. So you are stuck with the cash you have with you. On arrival I was carrying $4,000 and €2,000 all in cash. I assumed - incorrectly - that some might be out to relieve me of that cash. In fact, Iran turned out to be a very safe country in that respect.
So some people have to carry cash. The important point when doing so is to use your brain and think! As GB points out, new notes are always a great idea. Just get them from your bank in advance. Then minimise your risk. I never keep cash in just one place. Even an in-room safe can be cracked open quite easily by those who know how to do it. I have several times tried a money wallet - that thing you put around your middle under your shirt - but gave up on it a long time ago. With more than a few notes, it starts to bulge. If you are overweight with even a smallish tummy bulge, it slips down and sits at the top of your pants. Then it becomes incredibly easy to see and therefore a target for any ne'er do well.
So I split my cash in several ways. On a long trip I will normally have at least a largish case, a wheelie case and a backpack. Travelling between A and B by road, it is split into three and tucked away in the furthest recesses of each. I grant this is not especially secure. But I also am extra vigilant. I always know exactly where my bags are. The only exception is when travelling by air or on any form of transport where even one case will be out of sight. Then it is always all in my backpack which I guard with my life!
In hotels, I then split it. A small amount goes into the in-room safe. Some stays with me in my backpack. A lot is hidden in socks, sneakers, folded amongst papers and guidebooks. Both my cases are locked. I have seen videos of the newer types of middle zip-around case being easily opened and closed with a ballpoint pen without going near the lock. To counter that I spend on the best cases I can that renders this well nigh impossible. These are not cheap but since I travel a lot I look on it as a form of insurance. It is my cash and I need to ensure it is safe. Never once have these cases been opened. But I will usually leave perhaps $150 in a variety of bills quite openly in one of the cases. So if anyone does happen to use a sledgehammer to break it open, they will I hope think that's all, take it and walk away.
Only once have I brought a guy to my room (not in Thailand) and left cash which could be stolen. I was staying in a mid-price chain hotel with cameras everywhere. This guy had not mentioned money. He said he just wanted to have a good time. He was a smallish guy and had brought nothing with him but meeting him the lobby instinct told me there was something odd about him. So I had put everything in the safe but left the equivalent of around US$20 in the back pocket of my jeans. Sure enough, after I had showered, it was gone. We then had a merry little dance. He said he wanted payment. I said he had never mentioned it earlier. But guys always pay, was the reply. Finally I told him there was $20 missing from my jeans. He admitted to taking it but said he wanted more. I had none, I claimed. It will be in your safe, he said and I replied I would not open it. Finally I called security to come to the room. He then left.
I fully realise that a similar confrontation with a heavy-set guy larger then me could have turned nasty. Had that been the case, since we were meeting in the lobby, I would not have let him near the room and merely given him some travel money then and there to disappear. With the reception staff and a security guard on patrol, he would have had no choice.