Cash is king and hide in plain sight: Seven tips to keep your money safe while travelling

Let your back know where you’re going, don’t ignore the warning signs and make use of the safe

Don’t put all your financial eggs in one basket. At home you might be used to having one wallet that contains your credit and debit cards and maybe your cash too as well as your library and leap card, your ID, your loyalty cards and all the rest. Try to avoid that while travelling. Losing your wallet – or having it thieved – is bad enough while away from home – but it is made immeasurably worse if said wallet contains every cent you have.

Call your bank before you leave. It may seem strange to have to do this but far too often we have heard stories of people having their cards frozen by overly zealous banks – or by bank algorithms – simply because they have had the temerity to try to use them in a country that the bank did not expect them to be in. We understand that banks are working to avoid fraud, so we can’t give them too much of a hard time if they freeze an account over what they thing is suspicious activity but even so, it can be infuriating. The easiest thing to do is before you leave is to let your bank know you are travelling and what countries you might be in – this is particularly important if those countries are among the less travelled.

Carry some cash. While many people use cards and either Apple Pay or Google Pay almost exclusively at home, having cash overseas is handy and sometimes essential. But be sensible about it. Make sure to have small denominations – don’t be whipping $100 bills when you go to tip a taxi, whatever you do. And don’t carry huge wads of cash around with you. Whatever about protecting your finances, if you are separated from your credit or debit cards, you have absolutely no come back if you lose money.

Hidden in plain sight. They may not be the most comfortable or more fashionable things, but money belts and bum bags – or any other means you can think of to carry your money that are not overly visible – should be considered.


Don’t gloss over the pickpocket warnings. There are certain locations beloved of the world’s pickpockets – the queue for the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Paris Metro, tourist friendly flea markets almost everywhere spring immediately to mind. Don’t assume you will not be targeted or are too savvy to fall victim to a crime. You are as likely to be robbed as the well-heeled gentleman with the gold pocket watch in Oliver Twist no matter what you think.

Beware of foreign exchange desks. It is not just street urchins who will rob you blind. When you are travelling and in need of foreign exchange be very wary of the operators in airports. While we are – obviously – joking when we say they are thieves, the foreign exchange desks in airports are not generally known for offering great value for money.

Use the safe. If there is a secure box in your hotel room or Airbnb or wherever don’t ignore it. It might save you a world of pain while you are travelling and might make it easier to claim on your travel insurance when you get home.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor