How to Keep Your Money Safe While Traveling
Minimize your wallet before you leave
Before every vacation I go through my every day wallet and takeout only the essentials that I would need for the trip, and those go into my travel wallet. Don’t take a big, thick wallet with you, a slim version would do much better. You won’t need the majority of your cards or other items, so clean out your wallet and leave the excess at home. That way, if something does happen to your wallet, you have far fewer things to worry about replacing.
Take at least two credit/debit cards with you and never keep them both in the same place. The reason here is diversification. If one goes missing, you still have the one stashed elsewhere.
Same applies for other belongings. Spread them out across multiple pockets. If you get struck by a pickpocket while out wandering around, it’s a bad move to have all of your stuff in one place. Wear clothing with multiple pockets and spread your stuff out among the pockets.
Leave photocopies of your documents at home where someone you trust can retrieve them.
This way you can call home to retrieve your card number and other information so that you can then verify it with customer service or authorities and either restore or cancel your accounts.
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Alert your credit card companies of your travel so they won’t decline charges and can properly identify instances of identity theft. This has happened to me in the past where I tried to use a credit card on vacation and it was declined due to suspicion of identity theft as it was flagged as an irregular charge in a new location. If you contact them in advance, they’ll change the settings on your account so that new charges don’t trigger an identity theft decline.
Protect your digital info
While traveling, try to avoid checking your bank balance and login into other sensitive sites. If you do have to connect and you are out and about, make sure the connection is safe. Free and/or public WiFi is often not secure. To make sure your information is safe use private virtual network, such as Private Internet Access, that will encrypt all of your internet traffic and protect your identity.
Use a money belt. A money belt is simply a pouch with a strap that goes around your waist. This pouch is kept under your clothing so that it’s unexposed and thus essentially impossible for pickpockets to access. You can easily access it by stepping into a bathroom and accessing it in a stall. It’s a great place to keep your credit cards and such; I usually keep my credit cards in there and just have a tiny amount of cash in an easy-to-access pocket. That cash is exposed to a bit more risk than the cash and cards in my money belt, but then it’s really convenient when I’m walking around a marketplace or strolling through a park. You get used to wearing it quickly and it's not uncomfortable.
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Use an ATM locator to avoid bogus locations. Criminals will set up “fake” ATMs in order to scrape credit card and debit card numbers. They look just like real ATMs but simply won’t work once you’ve swiped your card and enter your PIN. That’s because the criminals already have your info, so there’s no reason to give you cash. How can you avoid that? Use the ATM locator program on your bank’s website to identify legitimate ATMs near you and stick with just those ATMs.
Only use ATMs inside of bank locations instead of sitting out in the open. Occasionally, criminals are able to modify ATMs and add “skimming” devices that allow the criminals to take your credit card or debit card number and PIN. This is much more likely to happen with standalone ATMs and much less likely inside of bank locations. So, if you’re in a new area, make the effort to use an ATM inside of a bank location if you need to withdraw cash.
Use a secure phone password and don’t store website passwords or credit card information on there. This is good advice anywhere, but it’s great advice when traveling. A smart criminal can figure out your password by studying the marks on the screen, so make your password as complex as reasonably possible while traveling. That way, they can’t get in quite as easily. More important than that, though, don’t keep important passwords or credit card information on your phone. If someone can buy stuff on your phone by just using the stored passwords, you’re begging for a problem if your phone is stolen.
Leave expensive gadgets at home unless absolutely necessary. You probably don’t need your laptop while traveling, so why take it? Will you really use that SLR camera, or will you likely just leave it in the hotel room each day? If you’re not going to use it, don’t take it. It just becomes another thing to keep track of and another thing that can potentially get stolen. Use minimal gadgets. I use just my smartphone when traveling for everything – no need to take a SLR for family vacation pictures!
Carry a dummy wallet. Pick up a cheap wallet, then put some of the “fake” credit cards that banks often mail you along with a few loose bills in there and keep it with you. It can prove to be a lifesaver when getting mugged, as you can pull out the fake wallet and hand it over to the mugger. It can also be a good pickpocket deterrent as they may just grab the fake wallet and leave you alone.
Sound-off: What steps do you take when traveling to safeguard your valuables? Let us know below
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