We get it: you want to avoid ATM and credit card fees while traveling, but you don’t want to risk being pickpocketed with all that cash. So how do you protect your money while traveling?
The key verb for cash protection is diversify. You need to literally spread those pennies out physically and digitally.
For more great ideas check out our sister post, Where to Hide Your Money While Traveling.
How to Protect Your Money While Traveling
Keeping Cash on You – secret stashes around your body limit what thieves and pickpockets are able to pinch. The bad guys have long since caught on to the waistband travel wallets; here are some better places to conceal your coins:
- Bras: Even with a tight fitting shirt the band around your sides can hide larger amounts for emergencies. In Guatemala they make bras with zippers solely for this purpose. Just make sure to find some privacy before retrieving what you need!
- Wrist Wallet: Typically used by runners, the wrist wallet is an excellent option for secretly storing cash in stylish and sweat proof material. With the right shape and design they look like a cuff bracelet instead of stealth wallet, perfect for a night out!
- Pockets: Always store a small amount of cash in your pockets or a change purse. If accosted by a robber, you can empty your pockets, give them the change purse and keep your other sources hidden.
ATMs allow us to instantly retrieve our cash virtually anywhere in the world; however, that moment of access also make you vulnerable to alert thieves. Vary the way you use an ATM:
- Try not to develop a routine time or location for using an ATM if you’re in a city for a long time.
- Use ATMs at the appropriate time; avoid the dark hours of the day, avoid times where public places are empty. For example, Sunday mornings in Latin America can be quiet since most of the stores are closed and many people are attending church.
- Don’t let anyone “help” you with the machine and be weary of anything that looks like the machine has been modified.
Keep it Separated
You can also shield your shekels by electronically and physically separating where you keep your funds and ATM cards.
- Electronic Separation. Create different bank accounts for your normal banking funds and your total travel budget. You can then create a third account to receive automatic transfers of your periodic (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.) travel budget from which you can retrieve your dinero abroad. By keeping these three apart you can limit the damage that thieves (and maybe that impulse shopping spree) might have on your hard-earned bucks.
- Physical Separation. With your money carefully divided online, you can confidently carry your weekly travel budget ATM card everywhere, knowing you always have access to cash whether shopping at the morning markets or dancing the night away. If that card were to be stolen or lost, you can then rely on your other ATM cards kept secured away for emergencies.
- Be Prepared. In the case any or all your cards are lost or stolen, prepare a photocopy of the front and back of all your cards including customer service contact numbers and CV codes (the three digit security number on back). Give this information with a trusted family member or friend at home that can help you quickly cancel your cards if needed. Make sure to notify your banks that this person will be helping to cancel cards in case of emergency.
Ultimately no one can predict or prevent robbery or pickpocketing, no matter where you are traveling. You’ve worked hard saving for this trip, putting just a little of that effort into diversifying your money could prevent a serious financial loss.