One of my favourite things about travelling is exchanging my Canadian dollars for the currency of whichever country I’ll be visiting. There’s something about getting different coloured bills which sometimes come in ludicrous denominations that gets me excited about travel.
I’ve already covered the best ways to exchange your money, but some people wonder how to keep your money safe when travelling. It’s a serious concern considering that as travellers, we tend to carry more cash than we ever would if were at home. These tips should help you feel more secure regardless of where you’re visiting.
Only carry as much cash as you need
I know this sounds obvious, but way too many people travel with too much cash on them. I’m not sure if this is because they don’t have access to a safe in their hotel or if they think it’s safer to have the money on them, but it’s never a good idea to have a lot of cash on you. Generally speaking, you should only carry what you need for the day and you should try to separate your money. That means keeping some cash in your wallet and a little extra in a separate pocket or your bag.
Use credit whenever you can
I’ve been on week long trips where I spent less than $100 in cash. This is possible because I used my credit card the entire time. I personally prefer credit cards since they’re accepted at most merchants and I don’t need to carry as much cash on me. In case I lose my main travel credit card, I always have a backup one for emergencies. The other reason I prefer credit cards is because they give me no liability insurance. That means if my cards are stolen and used, I’ll likely get a refund as long as I can prove that I didn’t make those fraudulent charges. My preferred travel credit card is one with no foreign transaction exchange fees.
Protect your cards
Despite the fact that your credit cards will likely protect you due to fraud, you’ll still want to protect your cards as best you can. When using a foreign ATM, make sure you’re using one from a major local bank. You’ll also want to look for signs of tampering such as loose connections where your card is inserted. Extra steps you could take which may not be necessary include using a Radio-frequency identification (RFID) protected wallet and changing your PIN when you get home.
Use accessories to keep your money safe
When people ask how to keep your money safe when travelling, the most natural response is to use a money belt. I personally am not a huge fan of them because I find them awkward, but I do admit they help to keep your money hidden. Another option that happens to be more fashionable is a scarf with a hidden pocket. To keep your money and luggage safe in your hotel, pick up one of bags or accessories from pacsafe. Their products are aimed at keeping all your stuff theft-proof.
A big part of keeping your money safe when travelling is not giving it away. Always do research into the customs of every country you’re visiting. If it’s customary to tip 10%, don’t leave 15% or 20% unless you’re getting exceptional service. I’m not implying you should be cheap, but just know the local etiquette. Other things you’ll want to look up are things such as if it’s normal to haggle on prices at markets and if there is any tax refund for tourists. One other tip is to find out where grocery stores are located so you can pick up cheap water and food when you need to. In a sense, saving your money is keeping it safe.
If you take all of the above steps, there’s no need to stress out when you’re on the road. You’ve done all you can and if you happen to lose your money or credit cards, try not to freak out. Take the usual steps to recover you can try to enjoy the rest of your vacation.
Barry Choi is a personal finance and budget travel expert at Moneywehave.com.
This story first appeared on Moneywehave.com and has been republished with permission
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