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Tips to help keep money safe while traveling

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Traveling abroad can be a great experience, and something more young people are doing each year. Whether it’s an extended holiday in the US, backpacking across another country or a gap-year exploring different places in Europe, traveling can give you a new view on the world.

When exploring somewhere new, try to be aware of yourself and your surroundings. One of the most important ways to help you stay safe while traveling is to keep your money secure at all times – so you can enjoy your vacation without the worry of it getting lost or stolen.

How to carry money while traveling

There are different ways to help you carry cash when traveling, each with its pros and cons.

Cash

Carrying money in cash can make paying for taxis or tipping staff a lot easier. It’s also a good idea to travel with some cash readily available in case you can’t find an ATM straight away.

It’s not always a good idea to bring large amounts of cash with you, or keep it all on you, or in the same place at any one time. Travel insurance will likely only cover you up to a certain amount if your cash gets lost or is stolen.

Debit cards, credit cards and prepaid cards

Many people rely on paying by card when traveling, but bear in mind that not everywhere will take card payments, and depending on where you are, ATMs may be scarce. When you’re planning your trip, find out how to use the local ATMs safely and always familiarize yourself with any local laws and taxes to help avoid scams.

Using prepaid cards can be an effective way to carry your money, as you’ll only lose what’s on the card itself if it is lost or stolen. They work by loading money onto the cards, which you can then use to pay for goods.

You may be charged a fee for using a card if you want to withdraw money or make a payment. Depending on which type of card you use, there may also be a monthly fee for using the service, and you might have to pay to replace a lost or stolen card.

Traveler’s checks

Traveler’s checks can help you budget your money as you won’t need to take all your checks out with you at one time – meaning you can leave some in a secure location. In some cases, you may need to show ID when you pay for something using a traveler’s check.

They can be exchanged into cash, but you’ll need to find somewhere that offers that service. They may also carry charges if you are exchanging them for cash – make sure to ask first.

Always check your travel insurance to make sure you’re covered for the different ways you’ll be carrying money.

Handling cash while traveling

You’ll most likely need to carry some cash with you when you go on vacation or are traveling. If you do, here are some top tips to help keep it safe:

  • Don’t take it all out with you at once
  • Don’t count cash in public
  • Always try to carry small change and bills
  • Keep track of what you’ve spent and have left to spend
  • Know the value of each coin—this helps you avoid over-paying and means you can quickly count out money

Five smart ways to hide cash while travelling

There are a few things you can do to keep your cash hidden on vacation. Try not to keep all your cash in one place, as splitting it up will give you a backup if anything goes wrong.

  • Hotel safes and security boxes are usually your first port of call as you can normally set a personalized code.
  • Wear a money belt around your waist at all times—they have a secret zipped compartment to secure your cash.
  • Dummy wallets and bags can detract potential thieves from your real belongings.
  • Secret pockets in your clothing or in your bag can give you somewhere to store your cash.
  • It may sound a bit strange but your shoes can be a great place to keep a couple of bills for emergencies.

Losing money when traveling – what to do in an emergency

If the worst happens and you’ve lost your money or have been the victim of theft, there are a few steps you can take:

Cancel your credit and debit cards
Calling the bank to cancel your cards is one of the first things you should do. Once canceled, any potential thief will no longer be able to use your cards and your bank can start the process of getting new cards sent out to you.

File a police report
While the police may not be able to find your cash, having official documentation that it has been lost or stolen will help with any insurance claims. Plus, if the police do manage to find your missing wallet, they’ll be able to get it back to you.

Contact the US embassy
If you’re unsure what to do, the US embassy can help you get in touch with your emergency contacts and help you to file a police report.

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