My father always said that when you are travelling the only two things you really need to be worried about is your passport and your money. If you have those two things covered, youâ€™ll always be able to get home. Itâ€™s not the greatest feeling when youâ€™re in the middle of nowhere and your card stops working or you lose your cash. Here are Gap Year Escapeâ€™s top tips on keeping your money safe on your travels.
Stay safe at ATMs
Be aware of your surroundings when you use an ATM to withdraw cash. Is the ATM in a poorly lit area or a quiet road? Stick to taking cash out during the day if you can. Ensure no one is close by and cover your pin when you enter it. If you can, go to an ATM in pairs and have your friend wait behind you in the queue. They can quite literally watch your back.
Donâ€™t forget to get a receipt for the cash you withdraw. I have experienced faulty ATMs where the cash hasnâ€™t come out but it has still been deducted. A receipt will also be required if you need to make a claim on your travel insurance for lost or stolen money.
Carry two wallets
One should be your main wallet and one should carry one card and a small amount of cash. Not only does this minimise the risk should you lose a wallet but it also means that if you are mugged or pickpocketed, theyâ€™ll only get away with a small amount of cash and not everything. If you are in a situation where you are going to be mugged, toss your wallet away from you in one direction and run in the other.
Donâ€™t flaunt it
This doesnâ€™t just go for cash. Opening your purse or wallet to show stacks of cash is a terrible idea. You should also think about your other valuables like necklaces or a watch. If youâ€™ve got a fancy watch thereâ€™s a good chance you probably also have a lot of money on you. Donâ€™t flaunt any of your money or valuables. Donâ€™t make yourself a target.
One of the best things I did was have two different cards with two different banks. Yes thatâ€™s a lot of plastic but it gives you a lot of flexibility between debit and credit and also means that if an account gets locked or youâ€™re card is blocked, youâ€™re not completely cut off.
Keep your money out of your current account
Imagine someone got hold of your pin and debit card. They could go on a spending rampage before you even knew what hit you. Keep your money in a savings account or ISA and transfer a little to your current account as and when you need it. Least this way they can only spend what is in there and not the savings for your whole trip.
If you get stuck, run short, or perhaps the parents are feeling generous, you might need an international money transfer. Investigate alternatives such as Azimo which might turn out to have lower fees for doing this.
Donâ€™t wear a money belt
They are probably the most unsexy travel item out there but still popular among travellers. There are however alternatives are available. There is concealing clothing such as Adventure Underwear which has built in waterproof pockets for money and a passport. You could even just sew a hidden pocket into some of your regular pieces of travel kit to hide your money in.
Donâ€™t advertise publically that youâ€™re away
Social media is great and all but if you have a home and advertise publically that youâ€™re away for a long period of time, it might make you a target domestically rather than while youâ€™re away. Make sure that you check your privacy settings on your Facebook so that only friends can see what you post.
Sort your mail
Make sure someone is handling or collecting your mail for you while youâ€™re away. Having it fall into the wrong hands can be perilous. Even better, go green and do paperless banking!
Check your balance regularly
You can get a bit spend happy while you are travelling so make sure you keep an eye on your balance. Forgetting to top up the current account might mean you accidentally go into your overdraft. Those charges soon add up. Check with your bank to see if you can set up e-mail alerts for low balance.
Notify your bank of your plans
Banks will generally freeze an account if thereâ€™s suspicious payments. Not great if the suspicious payment is you trying to buy a ferry ticket in Honduras! Make sure you let your bank know where you are going to be to avoid this happening.
Carry US Dollars
US Dollars are probably the most widely accepted currency in the world and it is easy to get them converted into a local currency. Iâ€™d suggest having a hundred dollars in small bills kept somewhere separate from your other cash so that it can be used in a pinch.
Now that you know how to keep your money save, you might also be interested in out Money Saving Guide which is free!