You often hear stories about tourists being robbed while in other countries. It is unfortunately a sad reality about traveling. People will always be out to take advantage of those less familiar with their surroundings. While theft is common, it is not a sure thing just because you are traveling. There are also many ways in which you can protect yourself, your possessions, and your money. Below are some tips to keep your money safe and protect your possessions when traveling to other countries you are less familiar with.
One of the first things you should do is notify your bank and/or debit/credit card providers that you are leaving town and heading abroad. This will help ensure your cards are not declined for suspicious activity internationally. I have made the mistake of thinking that just because my bank is large and global that it could easily be used aboard without issue. Be sure to confirm with your bank whether your ATM card will work with ease.
Be sure to make a photocopy of your passport, ID, plane tickets, and debit/credit cards. These may come in handy should you lose everything and need to prove your identity. You never know what scenario you will find yourself in, but losing items happens to everyone. Use technology to your advantage and keep copies of these documents in your email, dropbox, or Google docs. This will allow you to access them all over the world. Hard copies may be a good idea if you find yourself detached from technology.
Do your research before exchanging your money for the local currency. If you are lucky enough to know someone who lives in the area, I recommend exchanging directly with them. This is not a luxury for everyone, but definitely worth taking advantage of if available. ATM’s tend to offer better exchange rates as long as you are not paying extra international withdrawal fees.
Keep plenty of cash. You don’t always have to keep hundreds of dollars on your person, but you won’t have to worry about whether certain establishments take cards. Frequent use of cards can open you up to other threats, such as electronic pickpockets. Use chip card sleeve protectors which can block the transmission of radio frequency identification signals. Check them out on Amazon.
As the old idiom goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Keep your credit cards, cash, jewelry, wallets, and other possessions in separate bags. It also helps to avoid using fanny packs, large backpacks, or items that make you stick out as an out-of-towner. Instead, try using money belts which allow you to keep possessions hidden and safe.
There are several pieces of advice out there, but these are some I have encountered the most. Be smart. Be safe. Travel often!