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When you’re traveling, options are more limited for taking care of finances. These extra measures will help safeguard your hard-earned money.
by Marella Castro, 08 July 2017
You can pack everything but the kitchen sink, but don’t take-off if you haven’t secured your travel money. There’s more to it aside from ‘how much.’ The more prepared you are, the more you can have peace of mind.
Small moneychanger kiosks in popular tourist areas usually have a “no commission fee” sign, but they more than make up for it with high exchange rates. Ask for a receipt and don’t rush the exchange so you can better calculate the price difference. Airports and hotels also have currency exchange but have big trade-offs for the convenience. Banks and ATMs are still the best way to change money to the local currency, especially if your bank has a local partner and international ATMs. Rates are always up-to-date and they don’t have as many fees. Skip the Dynamic Currency Conversion, which changes purchases and withdrawals to your home currency and includes foreign transaction fees up to 10%. Download a conversion app to know if you’re getting a good deal for your transactions
Carry change in one purse and larger bills in another. Wallets with RFID protection for your debit and credit cards are great for safeguarding financial data. Remember to put money where it’s least likely to be found, at least not without getting your full attention. Hidden pouches can be attached to your belt, waist, calf, or hung around your neck. If you like skinny jeans, skip the one that tucks inside the leg of your pants. Some tourists miss the point completely by hanging the not-so-hidden neck wallets over their shirts. A portable safe is also a good investment. It’s a slash-proof bag that you lock to a built-in fixture inside your room. It’s the safer storage option for valuables like your passport, travel documents, extra cash, and credit cards versus the hotel safes. Plus, hotels don’t usually accept liability for losses.
Pickpockets that most travelers encounter are more opportunistic than professional. They go for easy pickings, meaning things they can grab without a fuss. In contrast, a professional will have equipment to get your stuff no matter how difficult you make it for them. The latter is what insurance is for. To be on the safe side, prepare a decoy ATM and wallet. A decoy ATM could be an expired account or one with very little cash reserved for emergencies. The decoy wallet can be your change purse or a separate one with a couple of bucks and some fillers. With these, you can get away safely while the unsuspecting mugger thinks he got away with your cash.
More care should be given in handling personal information. Travel documents are better filed away and not posted on social media. Monetary fraud and confidence scams go for passwords, account details, and credit card numbers. They can also use false identities to get people to send them money. But you can easily prevent this by turning on the two-factor authentication for your accounts, setting-up disk encryption for your devices, avoiding public computers, and not letting strangers plug any device to yours. You can also talk to your friends and family about a protocol for when you truly are in distress and needing money abroad.
Instead of telling the world about your upcoming trip on social media, telling your bank and credit card providers would be a wiser move. Especially because there is no way to know everyone’s intentions on social media. Your bank, on the other hand could mistake you for an identity thief with purchases you make from the other side of the world. Let them know where you’re going, for how long, and how much credit you’ll be needing. While you’re at it, make sure your ATM and credit cards are accepted in your destination.
Travel insurance is a way to protect the money you spent for your trip. And it can save your life. Your basic insurance will probably not extend to wherever you’re going and to what adventurous activities you’ll be doing. Always read the fine print to know what kind of coverage you already have so you don’t end up paying twice for the same thing. Whatever you do, get insurance with 24-hour customer service, because you’ll never know what time you might need their assistance.
The world is your oyster. Be aware, not afraid. It can make all the difference between survival and having the time of your life.