By Ken Hegan for MSN
It’s called the Bellroy Travel Wallet and it’s handcrafted at a secret Australian location by a tight-knit tribe of genius artisans. My guess: they’re made by a cabal of monks who care not about worldly possessions, as their only care is how you transport your money and I.D. from land to land.
This is one seriously brilliant wallet. It’s so lean and well designed, and will save you so much hassle and stress, I predict it will cure cancer, eating disorders, peptic ulcers, alcoholism, and gonorrhea.
First, let’s compare this manly rectangle of leather to my faded old unit (see below).
I bought this tired, black leather baby at The Bay 10 years ago on my way to pitch a TV series in New York. Once regal, it’s now critically dilapidated. Any money I’ve made has burned a hole in the bottom. This wallet has never cured alcoholism or gonorrhea.
Friction’s a genuine concern with a wallet this compact. If I carry more than 2 credit cards and 4 receipts, it fattens up to George Costanza-esque proportions. This puts stress on my buttocks and thighs, causing anal rashes and accidental erections. So I can’t take it to visit my girlfriend’s parents.
Worse, it’s only wide enough to fit skinny Canadian currency. So I have to fold in half every big ATM receipt, boarding pass, rent cheque, ransom note, or fat Scottish pound notes, then try to stuff ’em all into one pocket. Lame.
That’s where the Bellroy Travel Wallet comes to your rescue. It’s bigger than your everyday wallet for one important reason: it has a big sleeve to tuck your passport.
There’s even a tiny ‘micro travel pen’ tucked into the fold. So when your plane is landing in Peru and you have to fill out the customs form, you don’t have to sheepishly borrow a pen from other passengers, or anger the flight attendant by leaping up to rifle through the overhead compartment.
Simply stay calm and seated, then whip out your sleek, efficient, all-in-one secret agent wallet.
Down side: lose this wallet when you’re packing a passport and you lose everything at once. Still, it does save you repeatedly patting each of your dozens of pockets to ensure you’ve got everything (board pass, transit papers, passport, bribes) the customs guard might need.
When folded shut, the wallet measures 15 cm by 9.4 cm (5.9″ x 3.7″). It boasts two big sleeves to fit big boarding passes and giant-sized foreign currency. And though it only has 7 card pockets (my old one had 8), you can easily double up to carry 10 credit/debit/frequent flyer cards.
The Bellroy’s card slots are spread out and sleekly designed, too. So the Bellroy looks big but is actually more streamlined, even if you’re carrying 3 passports in the money pockets, one for each of your secret identities. And no, you don’t have to buy pants with oversized skate punk pockets. The Bellroy slips snugly into your jeans. If you currently hang your passport from a necklace hidden under your Tilley shirt, I feel really sorry for your sad, chafed nipples.
Plus it’s so skinny, you can slip this wallet under a locked door to help you negotiate with border guards, terrorists, bi-polar teenagers, or furious spouses.
Bottom line: unlike my old Costanza boat anchor, you can sit on this wallet without breaking your tailbone. There’s also a tiny 1-centimeter pocket for hiding…I dunno, toothpicks, a camera memory card, or super-small condoms.
Here’s a promo video for the Bellroy in action.
It costs $126 (a bit more than the Velcro trifold you get at Canadian Tire) and comes in either Cocoa or Midnight.
And, oh, the scent. This elegant leather beauty smells like wealth, the best sex, and Russell Crowe-style masculine adventures, like swinging a jungle vine across a treacherous, washed out mountain bridge pass. Compare that to my old wallet which smelled of desperation, loss, and pain. If you want that in your life, it’s all yours.
This weekend, I took it with me on the ferry over to the Sunshine Coast to visit my superfine girlfriend’s family. Sure, it’s not an international trip and we didn’t cross any borders. But I brought my cocoa Bellroy anyway, so I could browbeat every ferry attendant, liquor store clerk, and ice cream server into demanding to see my passport.
In short, I love this passport wallet and so will you. If you get one, I bet you’ll gush about it to your friends. I sure am. Someone could decapitate me and I would continue to talk about this wallet for another 6 minutes.
— Ken Hegan
For a list of international retailers, visit bellroy.com/pages/stockists/
Read all Ken’s MSN travel stories here
Photos courtesy Bellroy