Travelling is all about experiencing exciting new places, immersing yourself in an unfamiliar culture, and making lifelong memories to bring back home. It’s not all fun and photos, though. Being in a new country also means staying vigilant with your valuables.
So how can you protect yourself from becoming a target of pickpocketing and money scamming? A combination of common sense and preparation, of course!
Keep your money safe during your travels with these 20 tips.
1. Keep your money and valuables (passport, phone, SD and SIM cards etc.) on you while you’re in transit, especially if you’re going to be sleeping in the airport, or on a train or plane. A purse or wallet is easily taken from your belongings without you noticing, but you’re likely to notice someone trying to get to a waist, neck, or leg wallet on your person!
2. An alternative is the multi-stash method, where you divide up your cash and bank cards and stash them in different places on your person and throughout your luggage. If you keep all your eggs (your travel money) in one basket (your luggage), and something happens to that basket, then all of your eggs will be gone rather than just one or two!
3. Keep your valuables and money in your carry-on luggage rather than in your checked-in bags so you can keep an eye on them while you’re in transit. In some countries, it’s common for your checked-in luggage to be rummaged through.
4. Be aware of your surroundings – don’t use the cash machine if people are standing too close to you, if the machine is poorly lit or in a hidden area, or if it looks like the it has been tampered with. Your safest bet is to use a machine that is inside a bank lobby or foyer, as they will have good security cameras.
5. Don’t count your cash, or rummage through your bag, while standing at the ATM – you’re making yourself a target.
6. If anyone approaches you while you’re making your transaction, cancel it before you turn to talk to them – they may be trying to distract you long enough for their friend to come up behind you and steal your cash as it comes out of the ATM, or to read your card details with their skimmer.
7. Don’t accept “help” from the locals with using the ATMs – they may have a card skimmer in their pockets, reading your card details, while they watch you key in your PIN.
8. Cover the keypad with your hand while you enter your PIN number.
9. If you visit a drive-up ATM, keep the car engine running and lock your doors while you make your transaction, so if anybody approaches you, you are ready to drive away immediately.
10. Use an ATM locator tool on your bank’s website to find legitimate machines to use – in some countries, fake ATMs are sometimes set up by criminals to add card skimmers to the machine and steal your details.
11. It’s all about making yourself less of a target, and unfortunately money belts and backpacks scream “tourist” and can make you more of a target. Instead, use a regular and inexpensive-looking bag – one that’s big enough for your money, a camera, a water bottle, maps and a guide book – and try to look more like one of the locals, rather than stand out as a tourist.
12. Before you go, you could sew a pocket into the inside of your jacket or pants and keep your money and cards in that pocket while you’re out. Crafty and smart!
13. If you’re travelling solo, keep a backup card in a separate place to the one you’re using regularly.
14. If you’re travelling with a friend or partner, split your money and cards between the two of you in case you get separated or something happens to one of you.
15. Keep some cash in an easily accessible pocket for small transactions – this way, you won’t be flashing all of your cash to the world when you pay for a bottle of water or buy a train ticket.
16. If you’re carrying a purse or wallet, avoid keeping it in the front pocket of your bag, or in your back pocket on you; it can easily be snatched without you noticing from either of these spots. You can also wrap a rubber band around your purse or wallet to make it harder to be pulled out of your pocket unnoticed.
17. If you’re carrying a handbag, keep the flap of the bag against your body and sling the strap across your body rather than just over one shoulder. This makes it harder for people to snatch the bag or dig around inside it while you’re gawking at that museum.
18. Avoid exchanging money on the street – this is only a good way to get ripped off.
19. Never leave your bag unattended, even if you’re sitting down at a café to have lunch or on a bus or train. If it’s loose, it’s a target.
20. Protect your devices with passwords. If your phone, laptop, or tablet gets stolen while you’re travelling, thieves can access your financial details through apps and emails, and get access to your bank account and card information quite easily.
Our friendly team of FXperts are always on hand to help you with any of your travel money needs – you just need to visit your nearest store for information on your foreign currency options, travel insurance and more!
This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you. We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.