This is a common scenario that happens to a number of travelers all across the world. And specially when backpacking around South America, such scenarios would be much more in number.
I have had friends who have faced this situation, I have read online blogs of other travelers facing this and have had a close save myself from one such situation. The idea is scary but is the reality and hence it is better to be as aware of your surroundings as possible.
Imagine planning and saving up for a backpack trip months in advance,only to be robbed on day 1 or the first half of the trip, and thus having to abort the plans and return back home. Shuckks..I shudder with this thought( i.e. the thought of aborting the perfectly planned trip and not of loosing the money.)
And so, I for one took the security of my money very seriously. It was not just ANY money. It was THAT money which was going to give me one month of memories of some of the world’s most beautiful places in the world. And so, I decided to protect it with all the strength, ardor and presence of mind that I possessed.
I have listed below some of the steps that I recommend you to follow when on your next trip. 80% of the time(nothing in life is fully guaranteed amigos 😉 ) this will work and get you sailing smoothly till the end of your trip.
1) MONEY BELT: This according to me is the best product ever invented for a frequent traveler like me. Most of the robberies happen with you not even being aware that it is taking place. The robbers are so proficient at it, that you blink and it’s all over.
And that’s why the money belt is the perfect solution. It is a thin belt(thick enough to keep money, cards and passport), which you can wear under your clothes. Thus the same is hidden from others view. Also, there is no way that someone would be stealing it and you wouldn’t come to know about it.
So invest in one, and you will definitely not regret it.
2) SPLIT THE MONEY AND HIDE IT WELL: The cash that you will be carrying with you should be split up so that in case you loose one bag, you don’t end up loosing all your money. The split ratio should be as below:
a) 60% of the amount should be in your money belt(along with cards and passport.) Leave the amount in the safe in your hotel/hostel when on day trips and only take the amount that you will require for one day.
b) 20% of the amount to be kept in the make-up/bathroom kit which is in your main backpack. This is hidden stash in case of emergency.
c) 10% of the amount to be kept in the zip pocket of your pants. This amount should be smaller change which is easily reachable in case you want to buy things on your way.
d) 5% of the amount to be kept rolled up in a sock packed at the bottom of your backpack.
e) 5% of the amount to be kept in a small wallet(I like to call it the fake wallet). This wallet can be handed over in case you are robbed by an armed person(worst case scenario buddies, won’t happen to you). Just throw the wallet towards the robber and RUN for your life.
3) INTERNATIONAL DEBIT CARD: My suggestion is that divide your total budget of trip in half. Half of the money take in cash with you, and half let it be in your saving account(with an internationally active debit card), don’t transfer it to your debit card immediately in the beginning of the trip. In a scenario that you do manage to loose your wallet and the debit card also happens to be in it, then you loose all your money in one go. Instead, do an online transfer of small amounts from one bank account to another(the account of which you are carrying the debit card) as and when you need it. Nowadays you can have internet access in almost any hotel/hostel you stay or at any coffee house/restaurant you eat. And so, the task of transferring will not be difficult.
In case you still don’t want to be bothering transferring money everyday, you can always transfer the amount to your family member and ask them to keep transferring as and when you ask for it.
4) INTERNATIONAL CREDIT CARD: This will turn out to be a blessing the day you have to make a flight booking and realize you don’t have enough cash at hand. Having a back up is always advisable. But do remember to keep the card safely in the money belt at all times. Also inform your bank of your travel plans. In case you do happen to loose your card, call up the credit card toll free number and ask them to block the card immediately. Any money fraud before you block the card, would most probably not be refunded back by the bank.
5) TRAVEL INSURANCE: While many people consider this not worth taking, or think that they would not end up using it and so to miss purchasing one; but I strongly advice that you take a good travel insurance a week before your departure.
The reason being that a good travel insurance not only gives you cover for medical expenses(can turn out to be very expensive),missed flights,personal baggage lost/stolen, expensive equipment’s etc but it also gives you a cover for loss of passport/travel documents and cash stolen. Get a good insurance policy and you will be tension free in case anything does go wrong. I recommend(and so will most travelers) World Nomads Travel Insurance policy. Not only is the policy very easy to buy online, but also in case of claims they are very quick in refunding the insured amount. I took an insurance for appx USD 145 for a month of travel and it certainly has a wide coverage for claims. I was more than just satisfied.
6) QUE SERA SERA: Lastly, while protection and precaution is necessary; don’t spend half your time fretting about it. No matter how vigilant you try to be or how aware of your surroundings you might think you are; there still can be scenarios where your pocket gets flicked without you knowing about it.
So enjoy and live the experience while you can, because these moments won’t come again. Be aware, be sensible; but don’t become obsessed with protecting your belongings.
I hope that my pointers were helpful. Would love to hear any other ways of protecting money while traveling. Do let us know your methods of doing so.
Keep reading for more travel tips.