Planning a trip? Congratulations! Travel can be an immensely rewarding experience. But before you book your ticket, it’s important to make sure you’re financially prepared to avoid any unwanted surprises while you’re away. Here are a few tips to help you stay financially safe while traveling.
1. Do your research- know the currency exchange rate and how to access your money while you’re away
Traveling can be an amazing experience, but dealing with money abroad can be tricky. Before your next trip, do your research and make sure you understand the currency exchange rate and how to access your money while you’re away. An easy way to get cash while abroad is by using a credit or debit card; however, you should check with your bank first to let them know that you’ll be traveling abroad and ask if they have any fees related to international transactions. (Spoiler alert: Amplify doesn’t.)
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2. Make sure you have digital safeguards in place.
Protection goes beyond physical cards–you also need to be aware of digital security. If your bank or credit union has debit card control available, you’re in an even better position to control and access your money. Every card control app is different! But typically, with card control you can limit transactions, set up travel notices, and set up card use alerts. And if your card is lost or stolen, don’t worry – you can lock or unlock it with a single tap. You can also view every recurring payment on your card within 30 days of your most recent transaction, so you can make sure no one else is using it.
Beyond card control, limit your use of third-party apps, make sure two factor identification is turned on for all of your accounts, and create strong passwords.
3. Consider travel insurance to protect yourself from unexpected medical bills or lost luggage
Although you may have the best of intentions when you plan a trip abroad, no one can predict what might happen once you’ve stepped outside of the country. In order to avoid the possibility of astronomical medical bills due to injury or illness and the chaos of lost luggage during travel, it’s highly recommended that you get travel insurance. Not only does travel insurance protect you from unpredictable events, but it also provides peace of mind which is important when planning any out-of-country excursion. A few minutes spent researching various coverage options and costs can save you significant financial strain if anything goes wrong while on your travels.
4. Make copies of identification and documents, just in case they’re lost or stolen.
Having the proper documents is essential when traveling abroad, so it’s important to take precautions to protect them. Consider making and bringing copies of identification, so you can replace them more quickly and easily if necessary. Doing this before you leave for your trip and bringing them with you might save you considerable time and stress in case anything happens to your originals.
Not only should you make a copy of any valuable items that are stored in your wallet such as driver’s license or passport, but also consider making copies of travel itineraries, tickets, reservations, credit cards and insurance information as well.
Where to keep the copies:
- Keep a set at home. This is useful for two reasons: it can give someone you trust access to important paperwork, should you need it–and it will give yourself access to documents once you get home.
- Keep a set with you while traveling. If you’re staying in a reputable hotel and have a safe in your room, it’s best to keep those backups there. If you don’t have access to a safe, find somewhere on your person to keep them–just make it different than your wallet or the bag your wallet is in. You don’t want both copies stolen at the same time.
5. Keep your identification, money, and valuables close to you while traveling.
It is essential to be mindful of the security of your belongings and identification. Keep all important items such as passport, driver’s license, credit cards, cash, jewelry or other valuable items close to you or in a hotel safe at all times. If you don’t trust the safe at your hotel, keep them on your person.
It’s best to limit the number of valuables you bring with you–this trip might not be the best time to wear your grandmother’s ring. Also limit the number of credit cards and apps that you use–if something does get stolen, it will be easier to “quarantine” and pause, so you can keep the rest of your finances intact and available.
6. Be aware of scams and situations that target tourists.
Travelers need to be extra aware of the schemes and scams that take advantage of people who are unfamiliar with the new environment.
- Take extra care when withdrawing money from an ATM.
- Be wary of any distractions or people attempting to distract you while you input your pin or conduct financial activities.
- Stay mindful of your environment and the time of day.
- Stay in groups, or if you’re traveling solo, try and remain in mostly-public places.
What to do if you lose your wallet, get pickpocketed, or have your ID stolen.
Losing access to your money can be a frustrating, stressful, and sometimes dangerous experience.
- The most important thing to do is to keep calm and take action quickly.
- Take an inventory of the items in your wallet – what cards you had, how much cash – then immediately contact any credit card companies and/or banks where you had accounts.
- If you have card control, use it to lock your card.
- If you’re in a foreign country, alert the local authorities as soon as possible.
- If you previously made copies of important documents and identification, retrieve them as quickly as possible–you will need them.
Safeguarding Your Identity and Financial Health
Traveling can be an exciting way to explore and discover different cultures, experiences, and opportunities. Unfortunately, it can also be a breeding ground for identity theft and the loss of hard-earned money.
By following these simple tips we just went over, you can make sure your next vacation is both enjoyable and financially safe. Do your research ahead of time, get travel insurance, and keep copies of important documents in case you lose them while on vacation. Be aware of common scams that target tourists, and take precautions to protect your physical documents and valuables. And finally, don’t forget to have fun! Plan ahead so you can relax and enjoy your trip without worry.