There are tons of “tricks” or “life hacks” you can come upon while browsing the online everyday-carry communities. One such trick you may have heard of suggests keeping a crayon in your wallet at all times. It’s a fairly new trend, popularized just recently in 2021. In fact, every single online article or video about this trick can be traced back to as early as the summer of 2021.
You’re probably wondering why would anyone come up with something so unusual and claim it’s very useful. It certainly seems like an odd idea at first. Is it just a new obsolete internet trend, or is there some truth to this wallet trick?
As it turns out, the “crayon in the wallet” trick is not just a meme trend but a useful travel and safety hack.
Crayon In The Wallet Trick
The crayon-in-the-wallet trick is as follows:
- take a regular crayon
- wrap it in a piece of paper so it won’t leave marks
- place it in one of the spare wider pockets of your wallet
The crayon can be used later as a writing utensil that doesn’t need sharpening, to protect your cards from bending or breaking, to keep thieves away, to keep a child occupied when they’re bored, or even to save a life.
What is the use of a crayon in your wallet?
So what exactly is the use of keeping a crayon in your wallet? Let’s dive into some of the most notable situations where having such an item in your wallet can be of great help.
Keep thieves away
This part of the “crayon in the wallet” trick is probably its oldest known usage, and arguably the most useful one. Back pocket wallets are a big attraction of pickpocketers, who can snatch the wallet right out of your pants without you even noticing something happened at all.
The trick here is to put the crayon inside the wallet with its pointy end upwards so it will stab anyone who dares put their hand inside your pockets. This may not stop thieves altogether, but it will certainly slow them down and give you a heads up that something is happening behind your back.
Just like in the previous scenario, you can use any sticky object instead of a crayon, but why not have a multifunctional tool there instead?
In any case, if you’re worried about thieves stealing your wallet, you may want to check out my guide on the best anti-theft wallets.
Use it for writing or sketching yourself
Any writing utensil is most useful when you’re traveling to a foreign country and you don’t speak the local language. Ordering at a bar or a restaurant and asking for directions is much easier when you can sketch something out instead of explaining yourself to a person who can’t understand a word you’re saying.
You can also use the crayon to take down an important work-related note, a number you can’t type on your phone, and on many other occasions.
Protect your cards
Placing a crayon straight across inside your wallet is a great way to keep your cards from bending. As most of us prefer to keep our wallets in the back pocket, there is always a risk of breaking your cards from putting too much pressure on them.
The crayon in this case will work as a bar that keeps the cards level and protects them from breaking.
In fact, any stick-like object will do the trick in this scenario, but a crayon adds an extra benefit by double-acting as a writing tool as well.
Keep a child occupied
This is the part that parents will love the most. Having a crayon (and ideally a piece of paper too) is a great way to keep your child occupied during a flight, a car ride, or when waiting in a long queue at the airport.
Save a life
I was skeptical whether I should add this section too, as it seems like a bit of a long shot. But it turns out a crayon can, in fact, act as a life-saving device in some extreme situations.
One major advantage of crayons over other writing tools is that they can be waterproof. So in case you get lost in an unknown location, you can simply leave some crayon marks behind you and let people know of your whereabouts. It’s also helpful to mark the places you’ve last visited so you know if you’re running around in circles.
What are the problems with this trick?
As you might have already noticed, the “crayon in the wallet” trick is probably not all that useful in everyday scenarios. Plus, there are a couple of issues with putting such a displaced object inside one of your most used items.
It doesn’t work for all types of wallets
You may be able to put a crayon in leather wallets if they’re not too tight.
However, most aluminum wallets will not be big enough to fit a crayon. This goes for carbon fiber wallets and titanium wallets as well.
It can make a mess out of your wallet
Unlike pens, which you can keep closed off, a crayon will always have its end open and leave marks all around your wallet.
The best way to keep a crayon inside a wallet is by covering it with a piece of paper. And that is already a much bigger hassle than keeping it literally anywhere else.
Still, a wrapped piece of paper is not a foolproof way to secure the crayon, and nobody wants to risk damaging their wallet and having crayon marks all around it.
A crayon can melt if it gets too hot
Just picture this in your head: it’s summer, the weather is boiling hot, and there’s a leather wallet that feels like it could melt inside your pockets. Now picture having a soft waxy object inside there as well. Unlike the wallet, this object will literally melt, making a gooey and colorful mess of your pockets.
Crayons begin to melt at around 105° Fahrenheit / 40° Celsius, a temperature that realistically may happen on a hot summer day.
If you live somewhere where the weather is mostly cold or lukewarm at best, then you’ll have no such issue. But for most people out there, this trick will be useless during the summer days of the year.
It takes too much space
No matter how small, a crayon has to be kept inside a wide pocket which you would ideally use for cash bills. The small card pockets simply won’t do the trick here as they are too stiff.
The problem is that the crayon will still take a lot of space and depth no matter where you put it. You would have to sacrifice space for about 5 bills or a couple of cards at the very best, which is not a small amount, especially if you use a low-capacity minimalist wallet.
One of the goals of modern wallets is to encourage you to carry fewer items, and you’re straight up defeating that purpose by placing a crayon in the wallet. If you want to go the exact opposite way and declutter your wallet as much as possible, check out my guide on how to slim down your wallet.
A crayon can brake
Any type of writing utensil can brake if you squeeze it too tight into your wallet. Even a pencil can brake in half if you put too much pressure by sitting on it. But crayons are way more fragile since they are quite literally made of wax.
Unlike pens or pencils, a crayon can still be used even when broken in half, but this again begs the question, why not just keep it anywhere else but your wallet?
Should you carry a crayon in your wallet?
My advice is that carrying a crayon in your wallet is not worth it when compared to some of the alternatives to this trick. In fact, I would advise against carrying any items besides cards and banknotes inside a minimalist wallet, as that’s how minimalist wallets should be used. Items like crayons, pens, or even small pencils would take too much space from your precious wallet, and pose a risk of making a big mess, not only damaging the wallet but your credit cards and bills as well.
At the end of the day, a crayon still looks too childish and inefficient to me, and the couple of benefits it has do not justify swapping pens with crayons.
Why not use any other writing tools?
There are numerous reasons why you should have some sort of a writing utensil on you. But as a matter of fact, keeping a pen or a pencil in your wallet instead of a crayon comes with some notable downsides.
A pencil’s tip can easily break while it’s in your pocket, and must constantly be sharpened before use. A crayon is always ready to write no matter how blunt it is.
A pen, on the other hand, can run out of ink, or worse, suffer from an ink spillage and completely destroy your wallet’s contents. This is even more likely when you’re flying, due to the air pressure in the airplane cabin. Not ideal for traveling at all.
What are some of the alternatives to this trick?
If you really want or need to have some kind of a writing tool nearby at all times, there are a few alternatives to carrying a crayon in your wallet.
The simplest way is to just store the crayon in a small box and put it in your pocket, in your backpack, purse, in the car, or in any other item you have on you. All of these options will keep it within a hand’s reach. The downside here is that you don’t get the benefit of your wallet being slightly better protected against theft, although the crayon doesn’t really add that much protection, to begin with.
A much better solution is to just get a pen instead. The biggest fear about pens is ink spillage on airplanes, which happens very rarely. You can also prevent it by capping your pen, placing it upwards, or emptying it and refilling it once you land. Although it may seem like a nuisance at first, keep in mind that a pen will never brake, nor melt while it’s in your pocket, and the only time you should fear ink spillage is when flying.
But the best alternative to the “crayon in the wallet” trick is to just buy a wallet that comes with a built-in pen. Today, many brands have released some sort of minimalist wallet with pens and small notebooks integrated inside the wallet. These wallet models come with high-quality pens that were designed specifically to be carried in tight pockets, taking all of the possible circumstances in mind. Dango’s wallets with pens, such as the Dango D01 Dapper Pen, are the first that come to mind, and is arguably the best one currently.