Back in the day, traveller’s cheques were your safest way to carry “money” with you while travelling overseas, because if they got lost or stolen, you could just cancel them and get new ones issued. Easy peasy.
But, as alternatives like credit and debit cards, and good old fashioned cash, have become easier to use (and are often cheaper), traveller’s cheques have slowly faded into all but extinction.
So – how can you keep your debit and credit cards, and your foreign currency safe instead?
A little bit of common sense and preparation will go a long way to keeping you and your travel money safe while you’re on your holiday, and hopefully these 20 simple tips will help too!
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 a 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, including your travel 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 is 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 - just move on and find another ATM to use. 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 one of your regular and inexpensive-looking bags – one that is 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 standout 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.
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 – that 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 are 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 are 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 off your person, or dig around it 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. I usually wrap the strap of my bag around my leg while I’m sitting
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.
Do you have any safety tips you have used on your travels? We’d love to hear them and share them with others to help them stay safe on their travels too!
And of course, 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.