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Travel Cash Safety Tips

in Travel Money

It’s a sad but true fact that even in the safest places in the world local criminals target holidaymakers as easy marks with fat wallets full of fresh foreign currency. Just to put this in context, few places are worse for for this than London where the frequency and severity of crimes against tourists is bordering on an epidemic.

If you’re travelling to a country for the first time, even a popular holiday resort, check the travel advice from the foreign office to get a feel for any specific safety issues. This site usually do a good job of identifying any particular scams or hotspots for things like pickpocketing which target foreign nationals in particular.

Wherever you are it pays to stay vigilant and minimise the risk. Here’s some general advice on protecting your travel cash when on holiday.

First and foremost ensure your travel insurance covers you for loss and theft of personal cash and know the exact amount you’re covered up to. It’s advisable to never have more than this amount in foreign currency.

Make use of hotel safety deposit boxes for the bulk of your money and only carry with you what you need for the day/ evening. If you’re making significant purchases or eating in restaurants it’s smart to use your credit card anyway, it’s also safer to carry your credit card than cash. This is fine pretty much anywhere in Europe and the US but in many places in Asia, south America and even Australia you’ll find places charging their own fees for using credit cards so keep an eye out.

Carrying cash

Carry small money in your pockets and use this for buying drinks, cheap souvenirs etc. Keep larger bills in another pocket with a zip or better still strapped to you on a money belt. Pickpockets often target tourists buying stuff in shops, identify where they keep their cash on them then make their move somewhere busy like a train or a market so avoid going for your main stash in a public place. Also avoid carrying a wallet as this is easy for pickpockets to grab.

Take extra care and be vigilant around cash machines. Protect your pin and also keep an eye out for anyone who might follow you away from the machine.

When going to the beach only carry the bare minimum of cash which you might need for the day. You can get waterproof money pouches for cash or just keep money in a zip pocket on your shorts if you have one. Euro’s and dollars dry out fine so don’t worry about getting them a bit wet if you to in the sea!

If you’re threatened physically it’s not worth being a hero. That’s what travel insurance is for. If you’ve followed the advice above you should only have a small amount of cash on you anyway. It you can’t avoid carrying larger amounts and you’re in a risky area you can always keep some bills in your shoes or underwear but realistically if you consider the area to be risky, you probably should avoid it anyway.

Like I said at the top crime can happen anywhere, not least at home, so don’t assume all locals from known crime hotspots are thieves. That said some areas are far worse than others, here are some places you should take extra care:

  • Any European city late at night, especially around known ‘red light districts’ – Amsterdam is particularly notorious for street robbery in this area.
  • Busy public transport, especially subways and buses where pickpocketing is most common.
  • Particularly impoverished areas of any city, for example if you visit the ‘slum’ areas of Mumbai or Rio.
  • Popular sights and tourist hotspots. Easy to feel safe in places full of tourists but the areas around sights like the Eiffel tower and the Colosseum at regularly targeted by thieves.

Most of this is probably common sense although it’s always worth a reminder. Sadly most of the tips in this article have come as a result of me not following my own advice and applying said common sense while travelling.

Travel cash image by  Images Money on Flickr

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