We all have a different idea of what makes for a memorable and amazing vacation, but getting mugged and having our money stolen is one of those things I think we can all agree makes for a memorable and less-than-amazing vacation. We often focus so much on how much our luggage weighs, marvel at the increasing prices to carry a small bag onto a flight and the cost of a rental car that we forget to think about how to actually protect our money. When we travel, we focus on how much of it we are throwing away on things we think are overpriced, but we aren’t actually paying attention to our actual money or even keeping it safe.
I am the worst. Every single handbag I own is large, over-sized and never shut. I put it on the handle of the stroller and turn my back. I place it in the seat of a shopping cart and park it at the end of an aisle while I grab something 10 feet away. I leave it on the driver seat of my SUV with the door wide open while I fold the double stroller and store it in the back. Sometimes, when I have the twins with me, I leave my bag in the car and take just my wallet inside – and that got me mugged in the parking lot of my own grocery store in the middle of the morning about two months ago. While I was placing cups in the car, I left the stroller with my phone in one cup holder, my keys in another cup holder and my wallet right between parked at the back of my car and a man managed to grab them and run off. Fortunately, he dropped them as I screamed and ran after him and all was well.
The moral of the story is that most of us are so very careless with our money, especially when we travel. And because we all need one more thing to worry about when we’re out and about, we thought we’d give you a few simple but effective ideas that will help you keep your money safe now that summer is here and we’re all heading to various locales around the world.
Carry Two Cards – But No More
It’s a good idea to make sure you carry at least two cards with you when you travel, but not more than that. Leave the rest at home, but do yourself a favor and know the card information so that if the cards you are carrying with you are stolen, you can provide the card number and information to pay for things you might need.
Leave One Card Behind
When you leave your hotel room, put one card in the safe and lock it. Take the other with you. If you are mugged or your bag is stolen, you still have money at the hotel you can use the rest of your trip. Do not carry both cards together when you go out. You do not need both, and it’s dangerous.
Alert your Card Companies of Travel Plans
Your money is better protected when your card company knows you are traveling. For instance, if you try to use it in a foreign country, your card company might decline your transaction to protect you. This won’t happen if they know you are traveling, but it can protect you if a thief gets your information without your knowledge – in an airport, for example – and tries to use the card somewhere you are not before you realize it is missing. Your account is already flagged for dates and times and locations of travel, so the company might be able to decline the purchase if the location is not on the itinerary you provided.
Use ATMs Inside Banks
It’s pretty common sense, but don’t use ATMs outside in front of a bunch of people, or hidden away. Be as safe as possible and go inside where security is tight and you are a bit more protected. After all, you could be using any number of conveniences inside a bank that have nothing to do with the ATM.
Skip Nighttime ATMs
Here’s another pretty common sense method of money protection; do not head out at night to use the ATM. Wait until the day breaks or just skip this completely. Or find a hotel with a lobby; there are usually ATMs in lobbies of hotels that are much more secure and much safer.
Carry Minimal Cash
Some people want to carry a ton of cash with them to feel protected, but don’t. You can’t get cash back in most instances. You’re likely going to lose less money with a missing credit card than with missing cash, so keep that in mind.
Do not Put your Money in Your Bags or Pockets
Wear a jacket and keep the money in the interior pockets up by your chest where they are not easily accessible. If it’s hot, wear something like a chain under your clothes that no one can see so that you are not as likely to have it taken as you are your handbag.
Spread it Out
Never carry all your methods of payment in one location. Put some in a bag, some in this pocket, some in that pocket and wherever you can spread it out. This is going to make it less likely that others will be able to take all of it at one time.
Make Copies of Everything
This is very important. You need to have copies of everything you have with you in case you need to call a card company and report it stolen or provide the police with the information. Make copies and keep them somewhere such as in your saved emails so that you can access it from anywhere even if your phone is stolen.
Keep your Bag Closed
Do not leave your handbag wide open. Get a bag with a zipper, or one with a lock. One of my favorite bags to carry is one of my Louis Vuittons because it has a zipper with a lock, so I have to use a key to open the lock. No one but me is getting into that bag when it’s hanging on the back of a chair at a restaurant or sitting on a conveyor belt in the airport.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images