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How to Keep Your Money Safe While Travelling

Updated on October 31, 2013

1. Look like a local

This is the easiest way to not have the fear and annoyance of being targeted for a pick-pocketer. If you look like a tourist you are an immediate target. To me a tourist looks like this: camera around your neck, large open map in your hand, slight dazed look in your eyes, wearing a ridiculous shirt or hat,etc. For the camera, I've always either slung it over my shoulder or just kept it in my hand. Its more natural as a photographer to hold it that way. For the map, as soon as you get it, fold it to the size of a book with the area you immediately need open on the front. Then you can quickly look at it without drawing too much attention. In terms of the dazed look, plan your outing with the map before you head out. Look for landmarks or street name that you can recognize in your way,then you will have a better sense of where you are going. Finally, for the clothing, I recommend throwing out the flowery shirt that you only wear on vacation and bring comfortable but normal, everyday clothes to blend in.
I've been asked for directions by other tourists many times while travelling because I never look like a tourist.

2. Keep money in eyesight.

This really means just keep wallets in front pockets, guys, and purses in front of you, ladies. Never put anything really valuable in a small backpack or purse you carry behind you. In the worst areas, a backpack could be sliced open, but as long as you're aware of the surroundings and keep your money in your pocket, you should be safe. Along with the first suggestion above, only if you're in a really bad area, don't wear your backpack in front of you, or you'll be targeted as a tourist.

I find putting my wallet in my front pocket alleviates a lot of stress about pickpockets, as its tighter and i can always brush the wallet with my hand while walking, to ensure its safe.

2.5 Keep Money Out of Eyesight

This quick add-on to the note above is just a safety reminder. Keep wads of cash out of sight in public places. If you open your wallet and have €300 in cash popping out, people will notice.

My suggestion is to store excess cash in your hotel safe, or in a locked bag, and only carry what is needed for that day.

Also, I always use the pre-determined amount rule while in public markets. This means that I carry something like €10 in my pocket, outside my wallet, so that I can grab it to buy something quick without having to rummage through a wallet, or even pull a wallet out of my pocket.

3. Keep Things Separated

The worst feeling is when you go to reach for your wallet and find that its not there. This can happen to anyone traveling, no matter how prepared you are. So this is where suggestion #4 comes in.

Taking an over-used phrase, 'Never put all your eggs in one basket', meaning in our case, never carry all your money in the same place.

This goes for cash and credit/debit cards.

When traveling, especially at the start of your trip, most people have a larger amount of money, or amounts in various currencies. Keeping these split up in separate areas, or if you're travelling with someone, split on both of you, will help keep your cash safe. I even go as far as putting some cash in my wallet and other in a locked bag or even my front pocket until we can get to a safe or locker.

Lastly, it is very critical now that you travel with credit cards and debit cards. Most debit and credit cards will work in any country's bank, and many exchange rates now are best when using a card instead of trading cash. So with this, I strongly recommend traveling with at least two credit cards, preferably two different cards (visa/MC/AMX) from two different banks, to ensure one will work when needed.

Again, keep cards separate on two different people or in two different spots.

4. Make Use of Hotel Safes

When booking a hotel/apartment/hostel, read or ask if there is a safe or locker in the room. Many safes or lockers that require your own lock or that have digital combination that you set will be the safest place you can leave your valuables.

Normally, access to digital safes via overwrite codes are limited to managers or higher, so these tend to be very safe.

Safes with locks (or larger lockers in hostels), are also great places to stash your extra cash or passports, as long as they are bolted down and can't just be picked up and walked away with.

It is recommended in many cases to not carry all your cash with your, or even your passports, as if you lose either of those to a pickpocket or thief, your entire trip is ruined, so definitely use the hotel safe if possible.

Have you ever been pick-pocketed on a trip?

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5. Make Use of ATMs

The world is really getting smaller with so many things connected now, and that includes banks. While its important to have some cash on you, it is way easier now to find an ATM to take out cash, so you don't need to carry as much in most areas.

Compared to a few years ago, most areas have ATMs, and most bank cards allow for you to take out money anywhere. There are a lot more banks connected to your home bank as well. Some exchange businesses also allow for debit or credit card exchanges.

If your bank card doesn't allow for this, and you plan on travelling, either ask for an upgraded card, or open an account in another bank. Look for the best exchange rates while you are shopping around, so you can use the card anywhere.

So to keep your money safe, leave it in the bank until you need it!


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    • Ceres Schwarz profile image

      Ceres Schwarz 4 years ago

      These are all very useful tips to keep one's money safe while traveling. It's definitely important to keep these tips in mind to prevent and avoid loss of money and other valuables. Keeping you money in your sight and out of other people's sight is a great way to keep your money safe. And it is a good idea to look like a local when traveling to other countries so you don't stand out as a tourist.

    • dashingme profile image

      Mayz 4 years ago from Phoenix

      Look like local -when we travel we blend our outfits when we go out we don't wear capre shorts or rugged styles we wear normal outfits just like others like pants and shirt. they won't notice. When it come's to money we put some money in our pockets and hide it underneath our socks when we walk around or leave in the hotel. If it's in the hotel I put it on my folded clothes pockets and hide or mix with other clothes folded. Nowaday's its hard to tell who's and how to feel secure of your belongings.

    • baja2013 profile image

      Bajazid 4 years ago from Sarajevo, Bosnia

      Could be useful. My way is to keep money allways on my eyes, and make regular checking, from time to time, crowded situation and so on.