From departure to arrival, the Bellroy Travel Wallet is the ultimate airport wallet.
Before I get started, I have to get meta for a second. Bellroy sent this Travel Wallet to me to review back in August 2016. I’m a bit ashamed it took me so long to give this wallet the review it deserves. To that end, I apologize to Bellroy.
That said, how could I review the Travel Wallet without, you know, traveling? I didn’t hop on an airplane between August 2016 and August 2017, so I swallowed my pride and waited until I could give the Travel Wallet an honest-to-goodness review.
Had I not actually traveled with the Travel Wallet, it would have been hard to sing any sort of praise. This wallet wasn’t designed to be an everyday carry item. It’s not a “throw-it-in-your-pocket-and-go” wallet, nor is it designed to carry all your cards and cash. In this fashion, the Travel Wallet is a chore to carry each day.
I spent a weekend attempting to use the Travel Wallet outside its intended purposes. Jac and I spent a weekend camping with family, so I stuffed a Baron Fig Apprentice (now Vanguard) into the passport sleeve, threw in my regular credit cards and added some cash. For the majority of the weekend, I was able to leave the wallet stashed away in the camper or the console of the car while we drove. And when it came time to grab the Travel Wallet, it was a fairly easy decision to throw it in a back pocket and be on my way.
But I remember the psychological wrestling I underwent each time I needed my wallet.
- For one, I generally keep my wallet on me at all times, not stashed away in the camper or the car. Not having it on me — not being able to have it on me due to its size — was shock number one.
- Two, pulling out the Travel Wallet to pay for something small felt overkill.
- And three, having to remember to pull the wallet out of my back pocket and find somewhere to put it — be it the restaurant table, or back inside the camper — was a mental chore I didn't normally undertake.
The short and sweet of it: The Bellroy Travel Wallet is not intended to be an everyday carry option. Even if you try.
That reality also extends into your travels, which could be the most telling characteristic of the Travel Wallet. Just because you’re in a far off country doesn’t mean your everyday carry changes. Paying for things in Europe is the same as paying for things at home — pull out the wallet, find your credit card or cash, stuff in a receipt, and be on your way. Nobody I know wants to pull out their passport for every purchase in a foreign country.
Therein lies the rub: The Bellroy Travel Wallet is an ideal airport carry wallet, but does not eliminate the need for a better option when you have arrived at your destination.
At the airport, the Travel Wallet is in its element. It has 7 card slots — 4 slots up front and 3 tucked away in the currency fold. It has a passport-sized sleeve to fit the common passport; Canadian passports are transitioning to thicker, more durable passports, the thinner of which fits comfortably and the thicker of which fits snugly.
The currency fold has a divider to keep your belongings organized. It’s ideal for separating different currencies or separating currency from larger boarding passes. Tucked away in the corner of the fold is a small slot to keep an extra SIM card for when you arrive.
I find the ends of the currency fold to be an ideal place to hold receipts and irregular sized cards or documents — I have a Manitoba health card which doesn’t fit properly in any card slot, so it can be slipped nicely into the corner of the currency fold.
The Travel Wallet’s currency fold is the heart and soul of the wallet. The wallet measures 97mm x 150mm, meaning it has been designed to fit all currency sizes with ease. The extra size gives it space to fit a regular boarding pass as well, all but ensuring you don’t lose your identification and travel documentation during your trip.
And, thanks to the increased height of the wallet, Bellroy includes a micro travel pen in the Travel Wallet’s spine. The micro pen is perfect for filling out those pesky travel documents stewards/stewardesses give you within 15 minutes of arrival. The pen spins open and is a bit uncomfortable to use for longer-form writing, but is perfect for jotting down notes or filling out documents in a pinch.
All this adds up to a wonderful experience at the airport. Some travellers will keep their boarding passes on their smartphone, but I’m a believer in honest-to-goodness printed boarding passes. Pull up to the kiosk and grab the Travel Wallet. Out comes the passport, in go the boarding passes. Stash the wallet away in a back pocket or inside your coat and free up both hands for luggage, carry-on baggage, and a coffee.
From departure to arrival, the Bellroy Travel Wallet is the ultimate airport wallet.
The Travel Wallet’s leather quality is like every other Bellroy product I’ve used — which is to say wonderful. Not best in the world, but well above average. I’ve noticed Bellroy’s leathers tend to look better and feel better after an ample amount of time; synthetic leathers break down over time and over-the-top leathers (like the leather of the Midori Traveler’s Notebook) take years to break in. Bellroy’s leather finds a nice sweet spot between the two.
There is an Leather/RFID option as well for $5 extra at the time of purchase. Not only is the caramel-coloured RFID Travel Wallet the best looking Travel Wallet, it’s also the most secure. For $5, the RFID option is a no-brainer.
Upon arrival at your destination, the “airport carry” experience ends and the “everyday carry” experience begins. I’ve found the best plan of attack is to pack the Bellroy Note Sleeve in a small pocket somewhere in my luggage and make the switch when I arrive at the hotel. If necessary, I’ll throw the passport into the security box in the hotel room and move my cards back into the Note Sleeve during my stay.
Others’ may not be so trustworthy with their belongings, though. If not, your vacation won’t be ruined. You’ll just need to carry the Travel Wallet in your back pocket and be more mindful of your wallet when you sit down at a restaurant.
I specifically recommend the Bellroy Note Sleeve as your “arrival wallet”. It too is designed to carry larger foreign currency, has three quick-access card slots, and even has a small coin pouch for the inevitable change you’ll have lying around.
Isn’t It Ridiculous To Need Two Wallets?
Right? Well, sort of, I suppose. Wanting to carry two wallets to avoid the cumbersome Travel Wallet when you’ve arrived at your destination could be considered overkill. But the way I look at it, carrying that already-tiny Note Sleeve somewhere in your luggage is worth the benefits of the Travel Wallet at the airport.
I hate airports. With every ounce of my body. Airports smell funny. They carry enormous amounts of germs. Bathrooms are never clean. And everyone and their dog (literally!) are rushing to get from Point A to Point B in the shortest time possible. Add grouchy airport employees to all the hustle and bustle and you’re in for a real-life nightmare.
The Travel Wallet helps to ameliorate the horrid airport experience. Instead of having to carry your passport and boarding passes with one hand and pulling your luggage with the other, the Travel Wallet lets you keep your documents neatly in your pocket and frees up your second hand. It’s nearly impossible to drop or lose travel documents when you’ve tucked them in your wallet. And getting through security is easier because there aren’t loose papers, passports, and boarding passes floating around.
For the 30 extra seconds it takes to transfer currency, credit cards, and other everyday needs to the Note Sleeve when you arrive at the hotel, I believe traveling with 2 wallets is a worthwhile investment. I travel 2 or 3 times a year and find the value in having the Travel Wallet on hand. If you travel more often, it’ll only make your airport life that much easier to handle.
My sincerest thanks to Bellroy for supplying the Travel Wallet for review. I genuinely appreciate the patience they’ve shown in waiting for my gathered thoughts. I believe this patience is a testament to the people at Bellroy and the company’s customer-first approach. And I hope the year-plus wait time proves my receiving of the Travel Wallet free of charge had no impact on my thoughts.
If any of the above piqued your interest, you can use the links below. If you decide to purchase on Amazon, I’ll get a small kickback to help keep the camera firing. Much appreciated. — JG