Carrying money on vacation is a balancing act between safety and utility. We want to keep our money carefully tucked away and safe from potential thieves, while simultaneously avoiding the need to strip off clothes and rifle through a dozen hidden pockets with each purchase we make. This week’s Travel Tip Tuesday brings you nine smart ways to help you carry your money both securely and intelligently while traveling.
Even if you disregard all other advice about carrying money, take this tip to heart: Whenever possible, divvy up your travel cash and credit cards into multiple safe spots. If you have all your money in one place, it only takes one time for a thief to completely wipe you out. Keep some money attached to your person and some in a bag/wallet that you carry. If your bag gets lost or stolen, you’ll still have enough to get to a police station or back to your hotel.
Favor on-Body Storage
Under-clothing storage accessories have come a long way since neck pouches and money belts came onto the scene. Though those classics are still in favor, newer options include bra stashes, as well as pants, underwear, and undershirts with built-in pockets for safe storage. On-body storage accessories are particularly useful if you’re sleeping somewhere that doesn’t have a secure place for cash and other valuables.
Keep Small Bills Handy
Changing or withdrawing large amounts of money minimizes the fees you’ll pay to get local currency, but it also means you’ll be traveling with far more cash – and larger bills – than you’d have on you at home. Make money preparation part of your morning routine: As you’re packing your bag, make sure you have a variety of small bills and coins at the ready for purchases such as food, souvenirs, and attraction entry fees.
Carry an Anti-Theft Bag
Bags made specifically for traveling are an excellent investment. They often include features such as cut-proof, steel-cable-reinforced shoulder straps, slash-proof fabric, and locking zippers. Since elements such as these slow down thieves, they can do a good job of deterring opportunistic pickpockets.
Trim Your Wallet
Are you going to need your library card when you’re halfway around the world? Unlikely. Before you leave, take the time to go through your wallet and take out everything except the necessities (a universal credit card such as Visa or Mastercard, a backup credit card, a government-issued identification card, etc.). Not only will it help you travel lighter, but you’ll have less to replace if your wallet is lost or stolen.
Use A Dummy Wallet
If you’re traveling to a place known for pickpockets, consider getting a cheap wallet to keep in your pocket or bag. Pad the wallet with some small bills and make it look more real by slipping in one or two of those sample credit cards you get with offers in the mail. A dummy wallet can stop pickpockets before they get to your real wallet.
Buy A Travel Wallet
In addition to a dummy version, you might also consider a wallet that you reserve specifically for travel. If your day-to-day wallet is constantly stuffed with cards for gym memberships, gift cards, frequent-buyer punch cards, etc, then the pockets are likely to be stretched out when you minimize the contents for travel. By having a travel-only wallet, your cards will have snug pockets that they can’t slip out of accidentally.
Use Money Alternatives
In high-traffic settings such as metro stations and bus stops, it’s nice to be able to forgo cash or credit-card transactions and rely instead on a multi-use ticket or other cash alternative. If you’re in a city where the public-transportation system offers multi-use cards (for instance, London’s Oyster card or San Francisco’s Clipper card) or where you can buy a bunch of tickets at once (such as a “carnet” on the Paris metro, which gets you 10 single-ride tickets for one discounted price), then take advantage of those options. You’ll reduce your chances of losing your wallet simply by retrieving and stowing it fewer times.
Stow Valuables Securely
Sometimes the best way to carry money is to not carry it at all. Many hotels offer an in-room safe to store your valuables, and if you have an item (or a wad of cash) that you’re particularly nervous about, see if the hotel also has a safe-deposit box behind the desk. If you do use a hotel lockbox of any sort though, remember to retrieve your items when you leave. In the rush to pack up and depart, out of sight can easily mean out of mind – until you’re on your way to the airport. Leave a colorful note on top of your suitcase as a reminder.