1. Use Credit, and Limit Cash
Using credit as your primary method of payment on vacation can be dangerous, as there may be a greater temptation to overspend. By using cash you can more easily adhere to a specific budget, as it forces you to spend within a certain range. But cash isn’t replaceable – and if you drop your wallet or if someone steals your money, you can lose all of your vacation funds.
Check to see which forms of payment are primarily accepted at your destination – you may find, for instance, that your Discover Card is rendered almost useless in certain foreign countries. Visit your credit card’s official website and view its country acceptance map.
Also, always be aware of foreign transaction fees, as some credit card providers charge a fee of 2% to 3% to convert the currency. If you’re planning a trip abroad, look for cards that do not have a foreign transaction fee.
2. Use the Multi-Stash Method
If you need to rely on cash, never carry all of it in your wallet. Instead, break it up and hide various amounts of it in different spots to reduce the impact of theft. For example, you might keep some money in your wallet, and hide the remaining funds in a shoe or sock inside your suitcase. Or, you can keep money inside a hotel room safe, if one is available. If you have to bring a lot of cash when sightseeing, ask one of your companions to carry some of this money in his or her wallet.
Furthermore, do not leave cash or credit cards lying around your hotel room. Theft doesn’t only occur outside the hotel – hotel workers have access to your room, and if your room door is accidentally left unlocked, other hotel guests can enter and steal your belongings.
In all likelihood, there are ATMs near your hotel or resort, which alleviates the need to withdraw all of your vacation money at once. The bank is the safest place for your vacation cash, and you should only withdraw cash on an as-needed basis.
3. Record Your Account and Customer Service Numbers
The sooner you report a stolen credit card or debit card, the better. Of course, it’s difficult to report the card stolen if you don’t have access to your account information or the customer service number on the back of the card.
Plan for the worst and make multiple copies of the front and back of your credit and debit cards before leaving home, or write down your account and customer service numbers. Keep this information in a safe location separate from your credit cards. For example, you might place a copy in the hotel safe, leave a copy on your laptop, or give a copy to a friend.
4. Avoid Secluded ATMs
Secluded ATMs can welcome trouble, as any machine that isn’t visible from the street or nearby locations can give a would-be thief the right set of circumstances to steal your money. Use money machines located inside your hotel or near busy areas, and plan your ATM visits wisely. Do not visit machines at night or in the early morning hours. If you have a vehicle, make use of drive-up ATMs. Keep your engine running and lock your doors, and ask a friend to accompany you. There is strength in numbers, and you’ll be less of a target with another person.
5. Keep Cash Out of Sight
While it’s fun to let loose on vacation, you must always remain aware of the people around you. Whether you’re shopping, going on an excursion, or dining at a restaurant, never pull out large sums of cash in front of others, as this can draw the wrong kind of attention. Organize your money before heading out, and only bring what you need for the day.
6. Use a Money Belt
Whether you have cash or credit cards, there is no safer place for funds than on your body. A money belt is a travel necessity that reduces the risk of theft. These belts have a fabric zipped pouch, and they fit comfortably across your waist or stomach.
Position the belt on your body before dressing, and then place your clothes over the belt. This is not only the perfect place for credit cards and cash, but also your passport or driver’s license. Zip the pouch and your cash is safe from pickpockets.
7. Protect Your Devices With Passwords
Losing or having your phone or laptop stolen can give someone access to your financial apps and other personal information. A thief may pull up your bank account or credit card information and make fraudulent purchases. To ensure your safety, password-protect each device to keep your information safe, and program devices to auto-lock after one or two minutes of inactivity.
- While Sleeping on a train, bus, crowded hostel room, or any other public place, always keep your money, passport, credit cards and camera memory cards on you. Preferably in a money belt. Most likely you will wake up if somebody tries reaches down your pants while you are sleeping. At least I hope so.
- Always keep your valuables (ie. camera, laptop, or anything else you don’t want stolen) with you. Don’t put them under the bus or give them to a taxi/van driver offering to put your bags in the trunk. I always keep my bag on my lap. I also keep a couple different stashes of money and credit cards. I keep most of my cash and cards on me (in my bra or money belt) and the other half somewhere hidden in my bag — that way I won’t be stuck with zero money if something happens. The only exception to this rule is when I’m sleeping in a public place (in this case, I keep everything in my money belt.
- Sleeping on a train or in a public place, use a lock or PacSafe for small backpack and lock it to something secure or sleep with your arms around it. I also recommend a slashproof backpack when riding on public transportation. and I would suggest not listening to your headphones while sleeping in a public place.
- Use a small PacSafe purse when walking around in a city. It’s big enough to carry a wallet, passport, phone, and a few other items. Also try the bra stash when you don’t want to carry around a purse. For sensitive skin the Eagle Creek bra stash doesn’t irritate the skin.If you decide you don’t want to bring a small backpack on day trips, carry a padded camera bag.
- When booking a hotel or hostel, make sure it has good reviews when it comes to security and they offer a locker or in-room safe.
- Always purchase travel insurance and make sure it covers all valuables if something were to happen. Use Global Travel because they have a great reputation. They also offer insurance for travellers who want extra coverage for things like laptops, camera gear, phones, and iPads. You can also look into covering these items if you have a homeowners or renter’s policy on your home.
- Don’t get wasted and walk around alone in unfamiliar territory.