Carrying money can be tricky, especially when you have considerable sums while on vacation. It boils down to a tradeoff between safety and utility as you try and make it difficult for thieves. But when you need to pay for something, you should still be able to get to your money without having to strip half of your clothes or equipment away. With that thought, here are some tips on how to be smart with your money while on vacation.
How to Keep Your Cash Safe while Travelling
When you are travelling with money there some ways by which you can safeguard what you’re carrying with simple, yet clever ideas. Here are ten of them:
1. Divide All Your Money
This is the most basic way to safely carry all your money, the idea behind it being that even when the worst hits you, there should be some money left to enable you to get help. Whenever possible, split your money and even your credit cards between as many safe-spots there are on you. If all your money and cards are in one place, say your wallet, all it takes is one thief to wipe you of all your means. When travelling, apply the same idea and store some money and the cards with you and others split among the rest of your bags. That way, if any of your bags get lost or stolen, you would have enough to get to a police station or your hotel.
2. Go for On-body Storage
The evolution of under-clothing storage accessories have progressed a long way since money belts, and neck pouches were in trend. Although these classics work well, newer options include undershirts and underwear with built-in pockets and bra stashes for safe storage. On-body storage options are particularly useful when you’re sleeping or napping in places where there is no secure way to store valuables. Remember however that on-body storage is not an alternative to your wallet. Fishing around for cash in your clothes immediately marks you as a tourist and gives away where you are hiding valuables on you.
3. Use a Money Belt, But Avoid Treating it Like a Wallet
Carrying a money bag is popular as most people have figured out its importance during travels. Cross-body bags are safe as it is harder to tear them away from you; money belts are better but have their own limitations in how much you can carry in them. If you have a money belt, reserve it to store the largest currency denominations and never access it in public as it’s an open invitation to potential thieves. If you need to get more from your stash, go to a private place such as a washroom and pull out more cash.
4. Carry Change and Smaller Denominations
Withdrawing higher sums of money at a time reduces the fees on the local currency that you will have to pay, but you will also be travelling with more cash and larger currency denominations. This will put you out of your comfort zone as there is more than what you are used to carrying around back at home. Dividing currency has benefits, and it’s also wise to have smaller denominations that can be accessed easily. Having smaller currency bills or coins is all the change you need to buy souvenirs, food or attraction entry fees. This way you wouldn’t have to reach into the underclothing cash pouch to pull out larger denominations. Let money preparation be part of your routine every morning. Pack all the change you will need for quick purchases and tuck away larger bills in the secret pockets under your clothes.
5. Invest in a Good Anti-theft Bag
Owning an anti-theft bag has a number of compelling benefits, although they cannot entirely prevent theft, you may be surprised at how well they can deter thieves. Anti-theft features are built into many of today’s travel bags including purses and backpacks. Many are designed specifically for travel and have features such as shoulder straps that are steel reinforced to make them cut proof, bag fabric that is slash proof and locking zippers. Most come with hidden compartments where you can store your valuables, and some even have RFID blocking technology which keeps hackers from getting into the chips on your cards or electronic devices.
6. Keep Your Wallet Light
If you are the type who stuffs everything in your wallet, say, every credit card, identity card, insurance, shopping cards etc., lighten your wallet before you travel. You wouldn’t need your library card 5000 miles away from home or every identity card you have for that matter. Take out everything that’s not needed on your journey, so the wallet is lighter and if it gets stolen; you will have fewer cards to replace.
7. Carry a Decoy Wallet
Carrying a dummy or decoy wallet with you is a sly tactic to get away unscathed from a mugging attempt. When travelling to places that are known for pickpocketing and mugging, it’s best to have a cheap decoy wallet with fake cards and some cheap denominations to make it look real. Sample credit cards or expired shopping or membership cards are ideal for this idea. A decoy wallet can avert pickpockets from getting to your real wallet and save you much trouble. What’s better is it can be a lifesaver in a scary situation such as an actual mugging, where you have something to give up or throw and run away from the scene.
8. Use Alternatives
In a crowded setting such as a metro station or bus lines, it’s better to forgo cash or credit card payments totally and rely on a cash alternative such as multi-use tickets. The idea behind the multi-use tickets is quite simple; the chances of losing your wallet is less if you don’t have to retrieve or stow it often. Therefore if you’re in a city where multi-use cards are an option while using the public transport system or if you can buy a whole bunch of tickets at a discount at once, then take advantage of it.
9. Switch to the Local Currency Culture
Different countries have their own local culture of payment methods and adapting to it can make a huge difference in how easily you get through the vacation. In an economy where cash dominates, it’s best to have a variety of coins and bills on hand to pay for things at all time. Credit cards here may not find much use except for maybe at the airport or in your hotel. In developed countries such as Europe and certain parts of Asia where automation has taken over, chip-and-pin credit card technology is common.
10. Store Excess Cash or Valuables Securely
Since you won’t need all that cash you’ve brought with you, it’s best to leave a large chunk of it in a locker or a safe at the hotel room. These lockers are generally safe and are the ideal places to store any valuables you may have that you’re nervous to carry around.
Other Safe Money Options to Use when Traveling
Consider these tips while on your travels as well:
1. Entrust Someone to Wire You Money When in Need
In the event of an emergency, it’s good to have someone bail you out. Ensure that there is someone back home who knows your travel plans and can offer financial assistance. It’s a good idea to outfit them with some funds for times of emergency before you leave and also with other details that may come in handy such as your credit card and banking information and a photo of your passport.
2. Research the Rules About Carrying Cash Over Borders
When you are travelling with money overseas, avoid crossing the limit of how much cash you can carry with you. Those who have filled out a customs form will know that the regulations change when the cash carried is more than 10,000USD. In many countries, you are allowed to carry an amount lesser than that with you, in any case, consult with the embassy or consulate when you’re about travel with large sums with you.
3. Prepaid Travel Money Cards
These can be a convenient and secure way to take your money with you when travelling abroad. These specially designed debit cards let you fill it up with foreign currency before you travel. The advantage of travelling money card being that the foreign currency can be loaded into your card at that day’s exchange rate. It can potentially translate to savings down the line given the volatile financial markets.
4. 28 Degrees Platinum Master Card
This is one credit card that has gained popularity among frequent international travellers since it was launched several years ago. It’s similar to all other cards, except there are no conversion fees on currency. It can add up to significant savings over time and is a card that’s worth the investment even though there are 3 per cent associated charges involved.
5. Travellers Cheques
Although these are mostly outdated, you will find some use for traveller’s cheques when you’re travelling to dangerous places or countries with local conflict or tensions.
These simple but smart ways to manage your money while on your vacation can go a long way in keeping it secure. Follow these and be safe. Happy travels!