There’s more than one reason why pickpockets target tourists. Vacationers usually carry cash (and a lot of it) in an unfamiliar area and are doing their best to have a good time. In a thief’s mind, that means their guard is down, and their wallets are up for grabs.
That said, planning ahead helps ensure you don’t become a victim of pickpocketing. Here are a few tips to help keep your money safe on your next adventure.
Do some pre-travel research.
If you’re traveling to another country, do some research to see what fees, if any, your bank or credit union charges for using your debit or credit card internationally. You may also want to check into exchange rates to ensure you don’t get ripped off. If you’re looking for a straightforward way to do this, you can use Visa or Mastercard’s exchange rate calculator.
Pro tip: Avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) at all costs. Some foreign merchants use this method to trick tourists into paying additional fees.
Call ahead of time.
Before you go, call your bank and credit card companies (if you plan to use your credit cards) to let them know that you’ll be going out of town. Tell them where you’re going, when you plan to leave, and when you’ll be back. This way, you can ensure your financial institution doesn’t freeze your cards due to suspicious activity.
Purchase an anti-theft bag.
An anti-theft bag is a backpack, purse, or cross-body bag designed with built-in security features so you can travel knowing your valuables are safe. Some refer to anti-theft bags as slash-proof or theft-proof bags. These unique bags may feature locking zippers and clips, radio-frequency identification (RFID) blockers, secret compartments, or slash-proof straps.
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Download a few apps.
If you’re traveling with a group, you may need to leave a tip or spot someone a $20. Downloading Zelle or PayPal before you go will save you a trip to the ATM, which could be expensive and potentially dangerous. You can also download Tricount, an app that lets you share expenses with a particular group of people. This way, you can split the costs evenly.
Double-check to see if your current rewards cards offer any travel perks.
Some credit cards offer travel-related insurance and coverage, including trip cancellation, trip delay reimbursement, lost luggage reimbursement, baggage delay reimbursement, and travel and emergency assistance services. You can see what your rewards card offers by reading over your cardholder agreement.
Buy a VPN (and download it before you go).
A VPN, or virtual private network, allows you to search the web privately, even when using public Wi-Fi. It works by encrypting your data while you browse the web, making it virtually invisible to potential hackers. (A VPN covers your tracks.) In addition to keeping your data safe, a VPN allows you to access your home content while traveling abroad.
Whether traveling abroad or taking a weekend trip, it’s always a sound idea to prepare. If something goes wrong and you end up losing a few bucks or someone steals one of your valuables, it’s critical to remember that safety comes first.