International money safety

In my last post, I addressed some of the different money options available for international travelers. And whether you’re "on holiday" or studying abroad, a little common sense goes a long way to keep your money safe when you’re in a foreign country. Below are some suggestions that might help.

Before you depart, make a list of your credit and debt card account numbers, the numbers of your traveler’s checks, and the international phone numbers for reporting lost or stolen cards and checks. Keep the list with you, and give copies to a traveling companion and to someone at home to call in case of trouble.

Sometimes peace of mind is more valuable than any Let’s Go® Click here to learn about third-party website links or Lonely Planet Click here to learn about third-party website links travel guide. Keep copies of your key documents—including your passport and plane tickets—separately. Photocopies might not always be accepted, but they can speed up the process of getting replacements and/or be better than nothing. I stashed copies in the bottom inside pocket of my luggage (fortunately, I never had to use them).

Most travel experts recommend that you carry only the funds you’ll need for each day’s outing. But when I backpacked around Europe, I was staying mostly in hostels Click here to learn about third-party website links, and safes weren’t always available. So I actually kept all of my money, cards and documents on my person at all times in an under-my-clothes, around-my-waist money belt Click here to learn about third-party website links. It started off as ivory but was a sickly khaki color by the time I got home. Kind of gross, but safe!

Other tips to consider:

  • Divide your money and traveler’s checks with a traveling companion, if possible. That way, if yours are lost or stolen, your companion has access to cash.
  • For credit and debit cards, keep them in a safe place where they won’t bend, scratch or become demagnetized. Minimize the risk of theft or loss by taking only the cards you need.
  • When using ATMs, use the same caution you would when you’re at home: Don’t flash your cash after leaving the machine, and use ATMs in safe locations.

All this talk about money and travel has reminded me that sadly, I’ve let my passport expire. While I work on a renewal Click here to learn about third-party website links, tell us about your international money adventures here.

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2 Responses to International money safety

  1. Anonymous says:

    staci, can you tell me if wells fargo still provides travelers checks for account customers? we live in colorado and were told they were no longer available to us. if this is so where do we purchase them since we are going out out of the country to the bahamas and the carribean? thanks george

    • Barbara Raus says:

      george – Customers are no longer able to get travelers cheques in stores in Colorado. However, you have a couple of other options. You may still order travelers cheques through Wells Fargo Online. Check out this FAQ with directions on how to do so: You could also consider using your debit or credit card during your travels. That option is safer than cash, adds additional insurance, the exchange rate is usually better, and if you’re enrolled in a rewards program, you can get points for purchases. If you go this route, be sure to call your my credit card issuer and let them know that you are traveling. That way when they see the purchases they won’t flag it as possible fraud.

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