Why you might want to pack 2 wallets the next time you travel

Mar 30, 2021

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There are few worse feelings than losing your wallet — except, perhaps, noticing it’s missing right after arriving at the airport to depart for a trip.

For a recent flight, I stepped out of a cab at Newark Liberty International (EWR) and realized, almost instantly, that I didn’t have my wallet. I couldn’t find it during my desperate curbside search through my carry-on, but I did locate my Global Entry identification card in a separate paper card sleeve.

Between that, mobile payment apps such as Apple Pay and the generosity of my travel companions, I was able to get through the entire trip without a problem.

But if I hadn’t been keeping a couple of cards in a separate holder (or if I’d been traveling alone), it could have been a very different story.

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It’s true that there are ways to get through airport security without an ID. A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent may be able to confirm your identity with credit cards or, depending on the situation, something as unexpected as a work badge, diving certification card or a Costco membership card.

Clear members can get through security with their biometrics, though depending on the airport and flight, you may not have access to a Clear checkpoint. And, when all else fails, you may be asked to fill out paperwork, go through additional screening or verify your identity using public databases.

But this can be a time-consuming process that could jeopardize your chances of making your flight. And, I think we can all agree, it’s easier to travel with a valid form of ID and a credit card or two.

That’s why the next time I hit the road, I’ll carry two wallets instead of just one and keep them in separate locations for the duration of my trip. I’ll keep a small card holder with a flexible credit card such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited, a debit card, a nonessential ID and a little cash on me at all times, and I’ll pack a full-size wallet with my driver’s license, a second bank card and my other credit cards in my carry-on and store it in a hotel room safe.

In addition to having a backup in the event that one wallet gets lost or stolen, it can also be helpful to keep a decoy wallet in the event of an unpleasant encounter with a mugger.

Related: The 3 types of cards I always keep in my wallet

Traveling with two wallets has other benefits, too. Some travelers choose to bring a second travel wallet so they can only carry the necessities while sightseeing — something slim and small enough to stow away in a pocket or cross-body bag. It keeps things light, easy and also serves to minimize the risk of losing all the contents of your wallet. 

There are, of course, other things you can do to prepare for a worst-case scenario, like keeping photocopies of your passport or ID in a safe or separate bag. Having pictures of a credit card, including the security number, can also be helpful. But there’s nothing better than the peace of mind of knowing that you won’t ever be without a form of ID, at least one credit card and access to emergency cash during your travels.

Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy

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