Money or credit cards being stolen is worse than middle seat or jet lag. Some people have had to cut short their travel because they have lost a large amount of cash or a credit card, which cannot be replaced or claimed from insurance.
In Europe, pick-pockets target tourists and people moving around in crowded tourist areas. How you manage your money is crucial and can directly influence your risk of it being stolen or you losing it.
We’ve asked our trusted tour leaders what their top tips are for taking precaution and keeping your money safe…
1. Before departing on tour contact and notify your bank of your travel plans. Don’t assume that your ATM card can be used in any destination. Some retail stores, restaurants or souvenir shops in Europe, for instance, only accept chip-embedded credit cards or cash only! Think about getting an international travel card or prepaid foreign currency debit card.
2. Be proactive, take precautions! Record your account details by making copies of the back and front of the bank cards you plan to carry. Leave copies with a family member back home or store on a cloud option like Dropbox or Google Drive. Also, make a note of your customer service numbers in case your card does get stolen or lost and you need to freeze your account.
3. Carry cash with you, but not too much. Carrying cash is convenient to go to the loo or buy a croissant on the go, but the chances of theft or loss are too high of a risk to keep it all on your person. Keep what you need on you and leave the rest safely stored in the hotel safe or locked in your closet.
Don’t leave your bags unattended anywhere. Tour Leader Helen
4. Avoid keeping all your eggs in one basket. Use the safe in your hotel room to keep backup cash or an extra debit or credit card. If there isn’t a safe in your room, lock it inside your bag or closet. When travelling between hotels, keep some cash in your bag and some with you.
Keep at least one card in your luggage that you have online access to. Don’t travel with tonnes of cash! – Tour Leader Laura
5. Keep your cash out of sight by wearing a money belt/pouch. It’s a small, flat, zippered pouch or belt that you wear around your body and/or under your clothes. It’s the best way to carry valuable documents and money while travelling. Look out for money belts that look just like a regular belt – the last thing you want to do is make it very obvious that you’re a tourist!
6. Store your wallet at the bottom of your handbag/backpack/bag, making it hard for any would-be thief to find it if they unzip or open your bag while you are travelling on walking on a busy street.
7. Think about the type of bag and how you wear it. Choose a bag with a zip rather than one with just a button or clip and definitely think about using a lock, especially when travelling for longer stretches at a time. When moving through crowded areas like the metro in Paris or Rome, rather wear your backpack on your front.
Stand with your back against a wall when waiting in major metro stations. This way you can observe people from a secure angle. – Tour Leader Francine
8. Don’t make it too obvious. If you wear a fanny pack, criminals might expect to find your valuables in there and you might become a target.
9. Avoid secluded and stand-alone ATMs. ATMs inside banks are always the safest option.
10. Don’t carry anything you want to keep safe in your back pocket – rather use your inside pockets. This is a no-brainer but convenience sometimes trumps common sense. European pick-pockets are highly skilled in their craft!
Keeping your money safe while travelling is probably one of the most important safety aspects of your travel. By having a backup plan and following these tips you should be able to travel happily to any destination in Europe! Departing on tour soon and have some questions? Feel free to reach out to us on Facebook, or send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.