When it comes to traveling abroad, safety comes first. Yes, it may be hard to focus on safety when you’re experiencing serious sensory overload, but you’ll be glad you did. Staying financially safe when travelling abroad requires both preparation and observation. Take the following steps to enjoy a financially secure travel experience.
Leave a Trail
What’s the use of keeping your money safe when you’re in danger? If you’re heading overseas, don’t forget to leave a digital paper trail. Scan your driver’s license, passport, health insurance card, credit cards, and travel plan information and send email copies of everything to yourself and one other person. If you happen to lose your passport, it makes getting a new one much easier. It’s also important to let someone know where you are going, both at home and abroad. Email home and let them know when you expect to arrive at your next destination and where you’ll be staying. Once you arrive, contact a friend or loved one to confirm that you’re okay. And if you connect with a trustworthy person at one destination, exchange information and let them know where you’re headed next. In the event that you’re trouble, at least a few people will know where you might be.
Obtain Local Currency
Pickpockets can spot Americans—and American dollars—a mile away. Once you arrive at the airport or train terminal in a different country, exchange enough money at the airport to get you to your destination. Currency exchange stands typically don’t offer the best rates, so you’ll want to obtain larger amounts at a bank once you get to your destination. Keep the bills small, and leave most of your cash at your hotel. Thieves will be less likely to target you if you’re only carrying a modest amount of cash. When you do take out your wallet or purse to pay for something, be sure that only a small amount can be seen. Stash most of your cash in a money belt or a zipped pocket for safekeeping. You can always transfer the money into your wallet in private.
Be Aware of Conversion Rates
When you convert your currency, choose a reputable exchange center, such as a bank, a post office, or a hotel. Always research the exchange rates on your own before approaching a currency exchange counter. Smaller exchanges, especially those located in airports, may offer unfair or illegitimate rates. You may not have a choice, so be sure to do your research. You may be left without cash if there isn’t an exchange center at your destination. Make sure you are clear on the exchange process, and speak to someone in person. If you feel uncomfortable or cannot overcome a language barrier, you can always use your credit card. Just be sure you won’t be responsible for any significant surcharges.
Try to avoid using ATMs when you’re on your own. Pickpockets often stay close by ATM machines and observe your behavior. If you take out a lot of money, you could be a prime target.
Use a Hotel Safe
If you’re staying in a well-known hotel, you may want to keep your valuables and identification in a safe. Many hotels will allow you to store items at the front desk for a deposit. Many hostels abroad contain lockers in each room, but if it’s a shared space, you may want to explore other options.
Use Transit Wisely
Unfortunately, public transportation may pose the biggest threat to your financial safety. If possible, have the airport help desk recommend transportation for you. Try to share transportation with fellow travelers. Make sure to negotiate the price before getting in any vehicle. Cab drivers can often put you in the hot seat when you don’t discuss pricing ahead of time. When you do board a bus or train, try not to part with your belongings. If you’re a female traveling alone, opt to sit next to another female, just to be safe.
Use a Money Belt
Invest in a money belt to protect yourself from thieves. They can generally be worn inconspicuously under your clothing, out of the reach from other people. Be aware that small wallets designed to be worn around the neck and shoulder should have a wire woven into the strap to be effective. A determined pickpocket may try to cut the strap, and the wire makes that more difficult.
Remember to stay positive and don’t let paranoia rule your mind. If you’re openly uncomfortable, you will stand out more than usual, and could be made a bigger target for thieves, scammers, and other criminals.
About the Author
Check ‘n Go, the fourth largest consumer financial service institution in the United States, offers installment loans, payday loans, check cashing, and cash advance loans as part of their commitment to ethical and responsible lending. Check ‘n Go has consistently set high standards for their payday loan and installment loan services to ensure that their customers continue to have options available for whatever financial circumstances come their way.
 Anygelina. “Safety Tips from a Solo Traveler – Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site.” Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site. 2 June 2011. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. <http://www.nomadicmatt.com/
“A Safe Trip Abroad.” Welcome to Travel.State.Gov. U.S. Department of State. Web. 26 Oct. 2011. <http://travel.state.gov/