I am headed to Cuba very soon and since I hear that ATMs do not usually work too well in this country and I will have to take cash, it got me thinking how to safely store it during my flight, in hotel and while I am not in the room. I did quite an extensive search on the Internet and compiled a list of places and thing to hide money in.
In personal items
Lip balm seems to be the most popular hiding place these days, followed by empty deodorant, sunscreen bottles (which can fit a whole smartphone and the keys in for carrying to the beach) and empty medication bottles. Combs with secret compartments, gum packs, matches boxes, cotton or moist wipes, tissue packs, band aid packages are all in the same category. My only concern is that some of these are so openly discussed on the internet that chances are that someone interested in my money might have read those articles too. Another option is that someone might be simply curious about that particular fragrance/ cream that they would open it up to sniff and then hiding place is discovered. A friend of mine stayed at the hotel for an extended period of time and once noticed a big fingerprint inside her fancy eye cream, which she herself only applied with a special spatula and another one swears that her makeup was used, so I am concerned about such outcomes.
Belts & Pouches
Another popular one is belts and pouches. Either belts with zippers on the inside or special compartments added to them, or small pouches attachable to panties or bras or detachable shoe soles with hidden compartments. Seems that carrying the money around is considered to be a safe alternative. However, looking at some of the pouches available for purchase, they seem bulky, especially for tropical climate or look like they might fall or open up easily, and then I might lose my money anyway.
Inside the Suitcase
Putting a lock to the suitcase and using it as a portable safe seems one of the options, but even with this I am concerned regarding the strength of the zipper and having a lock on the suitcase might attract additional attention. Another popular opinion is that hiding money inside dirty underwear works magic, but I am even more skeptical than about the locks. If everyone keeps money there, won’t that be the first place curious people check?
Inside the Room
Another popular one is to put the money in an envelope and tape it to the bottom part of the drawer or in the Bible, or inside any marketing materials available in the room. Underneath TV, inside plant pots or under the table are other popular options. But having read Cuba Conga and the warning of the author that sometimes objects from the room disappear only to reappear inside a drawer which is not used, I am concerned about this one as well.
So what to do? Where to hide my cash while I am not using it? The consensus is that if to hide it in a cosmetic/personal item, it has to be such that only single person would use it or anyone wouldn’t even think of looking there. I usually put “do not disturb sign” on my hotel room, as I don’t need fresh towels twice a day, but at some point you have to let the cleaners in.Of course, if a safe is available at the hotel, I will use it, but if not, I have to have a backup strategy for my valuables and having heard numerous stories of wallets contents disappearing during prolonged flights, I prefer to stay on the safe side. Do you have any suggestions where to hide money and other valuables when safe is not available?