Top Travel Wallet, What You've Wanted to Know

by Mark Ward February 24, 2017

Top Travel Wallet, What You've Wanted to Know

What is a travel wallet?

The idea of a travel wallet came as no surprise.  Everyone has had the problem, you look at all you "think" you need access to during your journey, so you look for something to load up all the "necessities".  I make a point of calling out "think" and "necessities" because it's all made up in our minds.  Now, the list of things we typically need accessibility to for travel include the following:
  • Passport
  • Plane ticket(s)
  • Credit Cards
  • ID
  • Cash (typically from multiple countries if traveling international)
  • Other items like transit cards, frequent flyer cards, etc.

​In looking at our recommended top travel wallets it becomes clear that these things are BIG.  Starting at 4" x 9" (10cm x 23cm) and going up to as large as 6" x 11" (14cm x 26cm) and everywhere in between these are not what we think of when we talk of "wallet".  The idea is that if you can get all your required items in one place, then everything will be available when you need it, whether it's at the airport, hotel, customs, passport control, etc.  Some travel wallets even have a small, built-in pen for use when filling out forms.  How many times are you given a declaration/customs form on the plane as you're descending, but don't have access to a pen?  Yeah, me either, so annoying.  So the advantage of having your travel documents with you is attractive, but at what price?  We will get into that discussion, but let's hit the obvious issue, is it really a wallet?

​Is it really a wallet?

A "wallet" is defined as a pocket-sized, flat folding holder.  The problem with this definition and the travel wallet is size.  These travel wallets are monsters!  Maybe if the pocket you put them in is your coat or jacket pocket this might fly, but they won't fit in your pants pocket (unless you have cargo or parachute pants).  To be honest, I find myself keeping everything travel related in a small zip pouch which I have at the top of my traveling backpack or carry-on.  When I need it, I just pull it out and I'm done.  I know it's safe, meaning, not in my pocket, so I do actually feel more secure.

In the final analysis, I'd have to call the Travel Wallet more of a pouch than a wallet.  It sounds great, it conveys the wonderful idea of organization and consolidation, but really, it's not a true wallet.  Since the separation of the items you keep in your wallet, and what's suggested you keep in the Travel Wallet, do draw a fine line between everyday and special purpose, let's review if you actually need one or not.

​Do you really need one?

​Maybe, as is the case with all things.  If you like the idea, are comfortable with carrying a large pouch on your person or within your carry-on, then go for it.  As a "travel pouch" I think they're fine, but you do pay a premium for them.  Additionally, for the sake of security and the proper protocol of separating your important information, you shouldn't have all your critical documents in one place.  Travel documents, cash, cards, etc. should be broken out into separate locations so in the event something is lost or stolen, you haven't lost everything (trust me, it's devastating if it happens).  Thus, if you do follow this wise counsel, then a Travel Wallet really sets you up for pain and unhappiness.

​In the end, I don't use them and I travel internationally often enough to see what's worth traveling with and not. However, if you find them to be nifty, keep reading where we set aside our personal views and objectively tell you which travel wallets we feel are the best.

​Top Travel Wallets

Zoppen Travel Wallet and Document Organizer
zoppen travel wallet
​We like this one because of several features. It's water proof, it's zippered to prevent important items fro accidentally falling out and there are many pockets, slots and doodads for anything you want to put in there.  We especially like the small zippered section which can accomodate a SIM card or small change.  It's RFID protected, but we don't feel that's a threat anyway, but if you do, then it's a bonus.  And finally, it's priced right and comes in several colors.

Bellroy Travel Wallet

​If you're looking for something that's more like a wallet and "could" fit in your pant pocket, then the Bellroy Travel Wallet is for you.  Made in Australia from premium tanned leather, it looks as good as it functions.  It has room for 4-10 cards, a passport, sections for tickets, money and a couple quick access slots.  But the coolest is the micro pen which houses itself neatly in the fold. You don't even know it's there, but when you need it, the convenience can't be beat. If style is more your thing, then this is your travel wallet.

Osprey Document Zip Wallet

​I'm a huge Osprey fan, I have several of their backpacks and computer bags, they make great products.  To that end, this travel wallet is a great mix of "throw all my travel documents in a safe place" and durable fashion.  If you prefer traveling with a backpack, this one is for you. It has several internal slots for storage of all documents, credit cards, tickets, etc as well as anything else you might need.  Being a zippered wallet is also a plus and something we like when you're in a line and need to quickly access then close up your contents.

Mark Ward
Mark Ward

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