Tips for Protecting Your Foreign Currency While Abroad

Traveling abroad is always an exciting opportunity, and many travelers find that coming to a foreign country with all of the exchanged currency that they will need in hand is the easiest way to deal with traveling expenses. While carrying paper and coin currency is convenient—especially since credit cards with magnetic strips are not the preferred method of payment in many places—it does also put you at risk for being targeted by skilled thieves. Here are some tips to protecting the large sums of foreign currency you’ll be carrying around when traveling.

Beware of tourist scams.

Thieves have a variety of methods to locating the wallets in your pockets and stealing them without your noticing. For example, a thief might leave an empty wallet lying on a busy sidewalk, which will then prompt passers-by to pat their own pockets or bags where their wallets are to ensure that they are safe. This patting action, however, clues the onlooking thief in on where exactly to reach when pickpocketing a particular tourist later. You should also be mindful of anyone who asks you for directions, to sign a petition, or to look at something for sale—these could all be used as distractions while accomplice pickpockets raid your bag or pockets.

Use the hotel safe.

With the high number of people that will have access to your room, it’s important to take extra caution by stowing your foreign currency away in your hotel safe while you aren’t using it. Leaving your money out, or even tucked away in a suitcase pocket, will make your money easily accessible to incoming housekeepers and fellow hotel guests passing by. It’s also a good idea to take only the money you will need for the day with you and to keep the extra currency stored in the safe while you are out and about.

Keep the money on you in a safe place.

A wallet in your back pocket or shoulder bag isn’t the smartest place to keep your foreign currency because these are the first places pickpockets will look. A great option for protecting your currency while you are out and about is to keep it in a hidden travel pouch that you wear underneath your clothing. And if you happen to be in a restaurant or on public transportation, be mindful of where you set your bag if it contains your money—a thief needs only a moment of distraction to steal any money inside.

Be alert in crowds.

Large crowds are heavily frequented by pickpockets because they make for a great deal of natural distraction, and the close proximity with other people makes tourists less likely to question feeling a small tug on a bag or bump on the leg. Should you find yourself in a large crowd while abroad, be mindful of your surroundings and keep close tabs on the money you have on you.