There are a million different details to consider when you are planning a big trip — from transportation and hotels to daily activities and sightseeing schedules. One detail to keep top-of-mind is whether your most valuable asset — your money — will be safe as you travel.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep your money safe while traveling. Here, we lay out our top four suggestions for protecting your money while you’re away from home:
1. Plan Ahead.
Before you even leave town, there are a few things you should do to ensure your money will stay safe.
Know your financial info. Make sure you have all of the contact information written down or stored somewhere — including your financial institution’s contact information, account numbers, and the phone numbers of your credit card companies. That way, should anything happen, you’ll be able to contact them immediately to cancel or reorder cards, or handle any major hiccups along the way.
Make copies. While you’re at it, go ahead and make copies of all your pertinent information. That includes credit cards, insurance cards, and your drivers’ license and passport. In case of a loss or theft, you’ll have all the necessary information and won’t get stranded away from home. With this tip comes some risks, so it is very important that you keep your copies in a secure location and then shred them immediately upon your return home.
Notify your financial institution. Contact your member representative and let them know your travel plans. By knowing ahead of time, they can help prevent unnecessary interruptions like fraud alerts based on an untypical location, which could temporarily interrupt your access to cash.
2. Don’t Keep All Your Money in One Place.
Spreading your money out is one of the simplest ways to keep your money safe while you travel. That way, if you are a victim of theft or lose your wallet, you won’t be completely out of cash — and out of luck! Here are a few ideas on how to spread your money around:
Use hidden compartments. Even if you are carrying a bag or a wallet, make sure to keep smaller stashes of money hidden away. Not sure where to hide it? Tuck it under the insole of your shoe, or slice a small opening inside the hem or waistband of your pants. Keep in mind that this solution isn’t designed for easy access for your shopping money; the point is to have enough cash to get you out of trouble in case of an emergency.
Use the safe in your room. While you’re out and about, use the safe in your room for valuables like passports, keys, traveler’s checks, and extra cash. Hotel safes usually allow you to program the combination when you arrive, so you can feel confident that it will do its job and protect your in-room assets.
Carry a decoy wallet. When sightseeing or shopping, consider carrying a secondary wallet — one filled with a small amount of cash — as a deterrent for pickpockets or thieves. In a worst-case scenario, having a wallet you can hand over while knowing it doesn’t contain everything you have can be a game-changer.
3. Don’t Flash Your Cash.
You never know who is watching, so keep how much money you’re spending — and how much you have on you — a secret. The last thing you want is for someone who thinks you’ve got more than you need to help relieve you of it.
Protect your money. As mentioned above, you can use hidden compartments to secure cash, but keep in mind that many robbers have become accustomed to looking for hidden money belts and will try to take those as well. For added protection, place your wallet in your front pocket (not your back, where pickpockets have easy access) and use fasteners like snaps, buttons, or zippers wherever you can. If it’s too hard to get to your money, a petty thief will likely just search out another target.
Don’t give cash. As much as it may pain you to see others in need, giving money to those on the street can often serve as a beacon for those looking to score big. If you want to be generous, keep it limited to small, local change so you don’t draw unnecessary attention.
4. Pay Safely.
Keeping your money safe isn’t only for the parts of your trip where you are walking around or in transit; it also includes being smart when you are paying for items, souvenirs, or services. To stay safe while paying, here are a few tips:
Use apps. It may seem like a fun idea to take a ricksha, but keep in mind that the more local the service, the harder it will be for you to get anything back should a disagreement arise. Instead, use public transportation like metro or trains or well-known ride-sharing services like Uber or Lyft. Many larger cities give you the option to pay through an app — protecting your money in cyberspace while you enjoy your trip.
Use ATMs in financial institutions only. When you need cash in the local currency, an ATM is a great way to access it at the current exchange rate. But pay attention; ATMs in random locations have little oversight and can be a prime target for criminals who use skimmers to scan the numbers on your card. Instead, find an ATM inside of a bank lobby and feel secure knowing that your cash withdrawal won’t cost you more than you bargained for.
Use Credit Cards. For large purchases or valuable souvenirs, pay by credit card. The added protection on your purchases is well worth it, and in case of a loss or credit card fraud, you’ll more than likely be covered. Plus, you’ll also get the best exchange rate possible, which is always a good thing.
Whether your travel plans are filled with business or you’re getting away for a much-needed vacation, remember that Spero is here for you! If you need to boost your savings, start a sinking fund to plan for the trip of a lifetime, or simply keep things secure while you’re away, our member service representatives are ready to help! Stop by any of our branches or give us a call.