Different Ways to Take Your Money Overseas
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), one of their most common requests for consular assistance overseas relates to travellers who have “either been victims of a robbery or theft, or have lost valuables, money or passport.” This highlights the importance of knowing how to keep your money safe when venturing abroad. While losing your travel money or having it stolen is always a possibility for Australian’s travelling abroad, there are things you can do to lower the risk and keep your money safe.
1. Take Cash and a Pre-paid Travel Card
Carrying around large amounts of cash can be dangerous anywhere, but even more so when you’re travelling and not always aware of, or familiar with your surroundings. How much cash you should take will depend on your destination, but you should factor in cash for things such as stopovers, tipping and purchasing from places like local markets and street vendors. Your travel card can then be used for larger purchases, meals at restaurants and withdrawing additional cash if you need it. Taking both cash and a travel money card will mean the majority of your travel money will be secure if you lose your card, but you’ll also have some cash when needed. Read our article on cash vs travel card to read more on the advantages of taking both.
2. Practice Multi-Stashing
Haven’t heard of multi-stashing? It’s exactly what it sounds like – stashing your money in multiple locations. Even if you decide to take both cash and a card - and they are both stolen out of the same wallet - you’ll find yourself in a bit of a financial pickle. This is why storing and carrying your travel funds in multiple places is a good way of avoiding this issue. Carrying a small amount of cash on you, and leaving the rest in a secure location is recommended. Keeping your bank cards separate will also provide an additional back up should your cash and travel money card get lost or stolen.
The best way to decide how much cash to take out with is to ask yourself “would my holiday be completely ruined if I lost this amount of money?” Or why not set a daily budget and only take out that amount of cash you need – it’s safer and will prevent you from blowing your travel budget!
3. Be Savvy when Multi-Stashing Your Money
Multi-stashing is only a safe option when you have access to a secure place to store your funds, bank cards or travel money card. Despite what you’d expect, not all hotel safes are, well safe; and hotels usually have a disclaimer stating they are not liable.
Google “good places to keep cash while travelling” and you’ll come across numerous suggestions - from the usual under the bed, to the crazier inside curtain hems and TV frames (yes these are actual recommendations). Each accommodation will be different so there is never “one safe place”, but just remember where you’ve stashed it!
When carrying money on you, there are a multitude of travel bags, pouches and contraptions to help you be less conspicuous. These include money belts, leg pouches, waterproof swimming pouches, and even something called the Travel Bra which has pockets to stash everything from your passport, to cash and cards, to a USB device!
4. Avoid Exchanging Money at Unauthorised Money Changers
There are many unauthorised overseas money changers, skilled at subtly stealing money during a foreign exchange transaction. Majority of the time travellers don’t even notice until it’s too late. Many of these illegitimate traders get people into their stores (sometimes just a tiny shop or kiosk down an alley) by promising better exchange rates than other money changers. To avoid the likelihood of this occurring, only use trusted, authorised money changers.
5. Use Secure-looking ATMs
The use of skimming devices, which criminals use to illegally collect important data from the cards you use at ATMs, has become more prevalent in the past few years. To lower the chances of using an ATM which may have been tampered with (or one that may be a hotspot in general for thieves to target) make sure you only visit ATMs in secure, highly-visible locations. These include locations that have security cameras installed including big shopping centres, banks and hotels.
6. Keep Your Valuables Safe
It may sound obvious, but simply having your wallet buttoned in your pants, or your handbag zipped may not be enough to keep your valuables safe. Many seasoned criminals make a living out of being able to get valuables from the securest of places. To be extra safe, you may want to keep all valuables in front pockets. In certain destinations, motor-cycle related thefts - where thieves on motorbikes drive pass travellers on the street and snatch bags off their shoulders – are on the rise. That’s why you should always keep your bag on the side of your body which is facing away from the road. And never tempt fate by leaving your valuables unattended.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy Yourself
While all these tips aimed at keeping your travel money safe might seem confronting, the most important thing to remember is to relax and enjoy your travels. Just have your wits about you, don’t flash your cash, be cautious with your valuables and you’ll have an amazing trip without any hassles!