My brother recently got robbed in Thailand. He wasn’t hurt or anything, but they took all his money so he was broke. I found a way to save him and all, but if he would have followed some of my advice, he could have saved himself. When you travel, how much money do you take? Is it in cash or card? Where do you store the cash? Where do you store the card? I’ve collected a few of my best tips and input them for you below!
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When I travel, I always carry cash. I don’t mean just a couple twentys in my pocket, I mean I sit down and try to calculate how much money I will need for my whole trip, and I go retrieve that amount from my bank. This might sound risky to some of you, and it quite possibly could be if you’re not careful, but I’ve found this method to work best for me, and here’s why:
When you travel, especially to third world countries, credit cards/debit cards are not as widely accepted as they are in places like America. You’ll be hard pressed trying to find someone in a souk with an available chip reader, or even card reader if we’re being honest. These money transfers are normal here, but most people in other countries use cold hard cash.
Your next thought might be to simply head to an ATM machine while you’re traveling. This way you will not need to carry a large amount of cash, and you’ll still be able to buy things from the supermarkets, souks, and food carts without worrying about whether they have a card reader. Wrong. Most countries, specifically those in the third world, do not have easy access to ATMs. If you’re in a major city, you might have an easier time finding one, but if your location is rural, you might be out of luck. Now you’re stuck with a piece of plastic that isn’t worth more than materials used to create it.
Cash is a universal language. You can never go wrong with it, and it is always accepted. America is one of the only countries where credit is a thing. Credit is not really a thing in a lot of other countries. If you want something, you’re paying cash. For my family members in Sudan that means paying cash for a car or even a house. These people get really good at saving/hiding/carrying large sums of money.
So now that you know that cash is the way to go, how do you protect yourself from things like theft and robbery? The painful truth is that you’re bound to get targeted as a tourist at some point and have something taken from you. Especially you loud Americans! You just draw attention to yourselves, don’t you? (Haha, I’m American too guys, calm down). It will become painstakingly clear in certain countries (China, for example) that you aren’t a native. This makes you more susceptible to robbery and theft because perpetrators know you didn’t travel halfway across the world broke. There are certain things that you can do to protect yourself though, so pay close attention!
The first thing you’ll need is a great hiding place. Consider this ( hidden pocket underwear) or this (creating a secret pocket in your clothing). If neither appeal to you, as neither appealed to me, then you can try what’s worked well for me so far. I travel lightly, usually with just a carry-on or something like this. This will be considered by “big suitcase”. Inside my big suitcase, I always have a smaller bag for daytrips. I like to bring my trusted Jansport along, or any other bag with tons of zippers. This makes it easy for me to keep track of my things.
So, when I retrieve my big amount of cash from the bank, I usually divide it up into smaller portions. In my big suitcase I will take random pieces of clothing and wrap my money in them. These “money clothes” are scattered all throughout the suitcase. Whenever I’m leaving my hostel/housestay/hotel, I lock my “big suitcase”. My small day bag will have just enough money for that day. Nothing more, nothing less.
This way, if I was targeted for a robbery/theft while I was out, they would only get a small percentage of the money I brought. They would get something, but not everything. Now, if someone considers robbing my big suitcase, and actually figures out a way to break the lock to get in, their first glance will reveal nothing but clothing and toiletries. They would have to take the time to unroll each piece of clothing to find my money. The hope is that once they find a stash in a piece of clothing, they’ll think that’s all the money I’ve got and leave the rest alone. This is why you want to divide the money up. Their theft leaves me short, but not broke.
This is where my brother probably went wrong on his adventure. Traveling with just one backpack makes things lighter and seemingly easier, but it doesn’t allow for this sort of “security”. Now if someone just picks up my whole suitcase and dips then I’m sure I’d be shit out of luck, but I haven’t heard too many of those stories.
It’s all about minimizing the damage. We have to prepare for it, because there is a good chance it could happen to us. The hope is that when it happens, we are prepared. I’m out here trying to outsmart criminals. WHAT’S GOOD!
Let me know what your money security tips are in the comments below!