“Travel because money returns; time doesn’t.”

10 Travel Money Safety Tips 

  • Keep your cash hidden (and in more than one place).  
  • Put your cash in a belt under your clothes. 
  • If someone steals your wallet, you may not have any money for a couple of days. Try to keep one credit card, a little cash, a list of your credit card numbers, and your passport (if possible, some countries require you to have your passport on hand in case of an inspection) somewhere other than on your person, just in case you are robbed. In 2017, a pickpocket stole my wallet on a bus in Milan, Italy. Fortunately, I only lost 50 euros. The bank (in this case, Citibank) sent me a replacement ATM card by express mail, which left me without cash for three days. At the time, I stayed in a homestay, and the woman in charge kindly lent me 50 euros, which sufficed. In addition, though it has never happened to me, I have heard stories of people who had trouble using ATMs or cashing travelers’ checks overseas, particularly in Japan. 
  • Try not to keep a lot of cash on yourself. Sometimes thieves notice your money when you open your wallet and target you. In addition, if someone steals your credit card, you can get them replaced, and you will not be liable for purchases made on the card. (I have heard that some banks will only reimburse you for purchases that total more than $50, however) 
  • Carry a decoy wallet (with old credit cards) in your back pocket. 
  • Put your money and wallet in your front pocket.  
  • Always have copies of your cover passport page (with your photo) on you (in case you need it for identification), at home, and in your luggage, in case it is stolen. 
  • Be aware of your surroundings when using an ATM. Make sure no one looks over your shoulders to see your PIN code. Also, ignore anyone trying to distract you while making your transaction. Take out your card from your purse or wallet away from the ATM. Be careful that no one is following you out of an ATM.  
  • Do not call taxis off the street. Use taxis from stands or Uber.  
  • Know the current safety situation in your destination. I have been to Puebla, Mexico, four times. Until 2018, Puebla was considered one of the safest cities in Latin America. When I went there in January 2020, I did not know that the safety situation had changed. I checked websites (in English) that still touted the city’s safety. I got into a cab at 10:30 at night and was kidnapped. Later, I learned that Mexican newspapers had reported extensively about how the safety in Puebla had deteriorated. I also realized after talking to Poblanos that most were very scared of the security in the city.  

Other Travel Money Safety Tips  

Issues with Banks  

Though less so than in the past, it is best not to exchange money inside a bank. Banks are only usually open on weekdays, leaving you without money on weekends and weeknights until the banks are open again. Even when they are available, banks often have long lines. Besides, there are no advantages in exchange rates at a bank over an ATM.  

Problems with Travelers’ Checks  

Travelers’ checks are rare nowadays, and you can only cash them at banks for a high commission charge. Traveler’s checks may, however, have some utility if you are going to visit a country that is either:  

  • So off-the-beaten-path that they have few ATMs.  
  • Has many pickpockets.  

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Want to Know More Travel Money Safety Tips?

Check out these posts from HostelworldPassports and Grub, and Trip Savvy.  

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Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

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