“You’re so brave, but I couldn’t travel like you do” is something I hear a lot from women. Bright women who want to travel adventurously but limit themselves to package holidays, because they are a “safe” option. Unsurprisingly, personal safety and the security of cash, cards and personal items are some of the most frequently mentioned worries. “How do you keep your cash safe when traveling?” is a common question.
This post shares some simple steps you can take to keep yourself and your possessions safe when you travel.
What’s the Best Way to Keep Your Cash Safe When You’re Traveling?
Carrying cash around is a risk. It’s much better to carry at least two credit cards and a debit card (ideally in separate wallets) instead. But there are some times when you’re going to need cash when traveling.
5 Safe Ways to Carry Your Cash When Traveling
It’s true that sometimes ATMs don’t work. It’s also true that you can’t always pay by card in stores, markets or on public transport, especially in remote “off the beaten track” places. You will need a cash stash, but spread it around to reduce risk of loss if you are mugged.
The Cup-Sized Wallet
Ladies – one of the best ways to stash your paper money is to tuck it into your bra! Just remember that when you need to buy something, you’ll need somewhere private to get at your cash. A public toilet or changing room is ideal. You don’t want anyone else to know about the cash you’re packing in your bra!!
Note: Be nice to the people you’ll be handing your cash over to. Think about wrapping the cash in tissue, so they get fresh notes!
The Money Belt
I’ve used a money belt for years and ALWAYS recommend them. There are two basic types and I like to travel with both:
- One that looks like a normal trouser belt, where you can hide a small wad of notes, a room key and little else. Buy one with a plastic buckle, so you don’t have to take your belt off at airport x-ray machines
- A slim fabric money wallet that fastens around the waist and is large enough to hold cash, cards, passport and important travel documents. Buy one with a moisture-wicking panel so that it’s comfortable to wear against your skin, even in hot temperatures (cheap ones get VERY sweaty!) I also recommend getting a travel wallet with RFID Block protection built into the belt’s fabric, so that it protects everything inside
The Travel Security Wallet
Everyone needs a ‘fake’ or ‘burner’ travel wallet. It’s one you won’t be too sad to lose if you get mugged, because it doesn’t contain all your cash and cards.
Fill a cheap wallet with a nominal value in notes and add a few plastic cards. I NEVER use expired cards or ones showing my name, as I don’t want any potential mugger to get my name or personal details.
Important: Use your fake wallet for purchases when you’re out and about, replenishing it in private from your real wallet. Muggers will often watch you making purchases and they need to believe the fake wallet is your real one!
The Fake Safe
If you need to carry a larger amount of cash around, it’s good to have somewhere to hide it. I’ve found this useful when traveling to a new country or between locations on a multi-centre trip. I use an opaque empty vitamin bottle with a wide neck that makes it easy to insert and remove cash. It’s a quick, cheap and easy way to hide your cash until you can move it to a hotel safe. A simple fake safe won’t keep your cash safe from bag thieves, but pick-pockets are not looking for vitamins!
The Infinity Travel Scarf
Infinity travel scarves have a secret compartment for you to stash lightweight valuables in when on the move. They are perfect for travel. I made my first one using the easy instructions from Whitney at Whitney Sews.
For the “Rolls Royce” version, head over to the folks at Speakeasy Travel who create the ultimate hidden pocket infinity travel scarves. Handmade in the US, the fabric and finish
More Ways To Protect Yourself and Your Cash When Traveling
Take Care When Using ATMs
- NEVER use ATMs in a dark or secluded area. Choose ATMs inside a bank and stand close to the screen to hide your PIN as you enter it
- Be alert to your surroundings. If you feel at all uncomfortable, don’t use the ATM
- Guard your PIN! Watch out for people who might be trying to see the numbers you tap in. Stand as close as possible to the ATM to prevent other people seeing your information
- Put your card and cash away promptly – don’t count the notes in public
- Watch out for ATMs that look like they have been tampered with. If in doubt, find another ATM
Tell Your Bank You’ll Be Traveling
Banks automatically monitor accounts for unusual transactions. When you share your travel plans with your bank, they update their records to protect you from fraud. It also reduces the chance of you suffering the embarrassment of transactions being declined while you’re away!
Limit The Number of Cash Withdrawals You Make
Take out enough cash to tide you over for three to five days when you visit an ATM. Pay with plastic wherever you can.
Don’t Flash The Cash
It might be OK to flash a huge wad of notes around when you’re settling a tab at home. It’s foolish and unsafe when you’re traveling. Be discreet with your cash and only take the amount you need from your wallet.
- Spread your cash around
- Pay by card wherever possible
- Don’t flash the cash
- It’s not hard to secure your cash when traveling. Remember to be more careful than in your home environment
Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is your essential protection in case of illness, injury, theft, or cancellation on your trip. I’ve had to claim against my travel insurance several times and can report that it’s so much easier and less stressful when your insurance company has top-notch customer service. Having shopped around at first, I now only use World Nomads for their great value and excellent service. Older family members (aged 70+) swear by Insure My Trip.
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resources page to find the best companies to use when you travel!
It’s like my little black book – packed with companies I’ve used to save money when I travel. I think it will be helpful for you too!