In my last post, I addressed some of the different money options available for international travelers. And whether you’re "on holiday" or studying abroad, a little common sense goes a long way to keep your money safe when you’re in a foreign country. Below are some suggestions that might help.
Before you depart, make a list of your credit and debt card account numbers, the numbers of your traveler’s checks, and the international phone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards and checks. Keep the list with you, and give copies to a traveling companion and to someone at home to call in case of trouble.
Sometimes peace of mind is more valuable than any Let’s Go® or Lonely Planet™ travel guide. Keep copies of your key documents—including your passport and plane tickets—separately. Photocopies might not always be accepted, but they can speed up the process of getting replacements and/or be better than nothing. I stashed copies in the bottom inside pocket of my luggage (fortunately, I never had to use them).
Most travel experts recommend that you carry only the funds you’ll need for each day’s outing. But when I backpacked around Europe, I was staying mostly in hostels , and safes weren’t always available. So I actually kept all of my money, cards and documents on my person at all times in an under-my-clothes, around-my-waist money belt . It started off as ivory but was a sickly khaki color by the time I got home. Kind of gross, but safe!
Other tips to consider:
- Divide your money and traveler’s checks with a traveling companion, if possible. That way, if yours are lost or stolen, your companion has access to cash.
- For credit and debit cards, keep them in a safe place where they won’t bend, scratch or become demagnetized. Minimize the risk of theft or loss by taking only the cards you need.
- When using ATMs, use the same caution you would when you’re at home: Don’t flash your cash after leaving the machine, and use ATMs in safe locations.