The Real Reason You Should Travel with an Empty Water Bottle

Updated: Aug. 07, 2023

Always have a water bottle on you when you travel? It can do way more than keep you hydrated. Here's why you need to bring one on your next trip.

Be honest: When you travel, where do you hide your valuables? In the hotel room safe? While this tends to be a go-to spot for travelers, it may not be the best place to hide your jewelry, passport or other precious items. Instead, travel experts recommend reaching for a reusable water bottle.

Yup, you heard that correctly. After you inspect your hotel room for any hidden dangers, safely hide your valuables in a water bottle. Of course, not all bottles are created equal. So before you book your next hotel stay, learn why you should reconsider using the hotel safe and how to use a water bottle to hide important items.

Get Reader’s Digest’s Read Up newsletter for more travel, humor, cleaning, tech and fun facts all week long.

The problem with hotel safes

A hotel safe seems like the (ahem) safe place to store valuables. And admittedly, it’s a smarter option than leaving items strewn about. Still, using the safe is one thing smart travelers never do in a hotel room.

There are ways a thief can gain access to your locked-up goods, such as by using a master key or safe code that can override previous codes and open the safe. Considering this is one of the first places thieves will check for valuables, the existence of a workaround isn’t good news for you.

Why a water bottle is the perfect place to hide your valuables

Resuable Water Bottle Safe Via Merchant, Via Merchant

We know what you’re thinking: A water bottle … really? We’ll admit to some initial skepticism. But the concept makes a lot more sense when you consider the type of bottle you’ll be using and the fact that it’s a less-obvious storage solution.

Avoid grabbing the Dasani you bought at the airport. If it’s see-through, this won’t work. An opaque, reusable, wide-mouth water bottle works well if you don’t plan to fill it. (You don’t want to soak your valuables!) Even better is a reusable water bottle with a twist-off bottom for hidden storage.

“You’d be amazed at how a simple water bottle can transform into a hidden treasure chest,” says Jaume Ros, a travel expert and founder of travel experiences. “All you need is a bottle with a removable bottom where you can insert your valuables. Then refill it with water to make it seem like just a regular water bottle. This not only disguises your valuables from potential thieves but also ensures you have them within reach, whether you’re on a flight, at the beach or exploring a new city.”

Water bottles made for this specific purpose can really fake someone out. The Diversion Safe Water Bottle serves both as a water bottle and a hidden compartment. Plus, it comes in different colors! If you’re looking for a faux safe, this Fake Water Bottle will get the job done. It looks like a normal plastic water bottle but opens to reveal a secret compartment for stashing important items.

Other ways to keep your valuables safe during travel

While using a water bottle is certainly a sneaky way to hide your valuables while you travel, there are other ways you can hide your items without having to use the hotel safe.

“Although a water bottle is a great hiding place, always remember to diversify the locations of your valuable items,” says Ros. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket—or in this case, your water bottle. This way, if something unfortunate happens, not everything valuable is lost or stolen. Plus, be sure to check the regulations of your airline or destination, as some places may not allow full water bottles through security.”

Looking for another hiding spot? In an interview with Express, a Spanish flight attendant named Joaquin says the inside of a shoe can be a great spot to hide valuables, as can the hollow of a hairbrush handle. (Yes, really!)

Empty travel containers, such as bottles for shampoo, conditioner and lotion, can also work for hiding these items. Bottles that are opaque and have a hotel logo on them will spark even less suspicion.

Last, traveling with a money belt is never a bad idea, especially if you’re wary about leaving your valuables in the hotel room. The belts rest under your clothes, so you can keep your items close—but far out of reach of thieves.

And if you do use that hotel safe? At least put a shoe in it so you won’t accidentally leave your valuables behind.

About the expert

  • Jaume Ros is the founder of travel experiences. A travel guide expert, he’s visited 89 countries.


  • LockPickingLawyer: “Saflok Hotel Safe Override”
  • Express: “Flight attendant says never leave hotel room without placing card ‘inside your shoe’ first”