Are you planning your next vacation? Once you arrive, you should be able to relax and enjoy yourself; not worry about your money being stolen. But unfortunately, traveling can increase your risk of theft if you’re not careful.
Pickpockets are always on the lookout for easy targets. If someone’s wallet is practically hanging out of their back pocket, it won’t be long before a thief attempts to take it.
But pickpockets are looking for more than cash. In the wrong hands, a stolen driver’s license or debit card can lead to identity theft. Identity theft can take years to recover from.
Don’t take the risk. Carry your money in one of these creative, hard-to-steal spots:
1. In Your Shoes
It might not be the most comfortable place to carry bills or cards, but your shoes are a smart place to put them in high-risk situations. Thieves usually look for bags and pockets, not down at your shoes. Plus, they can’t exactly take off your shoes without you — not to mention those around you — noticing.
Shoe storage works best with boots. Store cash and cards against your ankle. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck walking on them or having them dig into the top of your foot.
2. In Your Underwear
While you can still opt for a money belt, these not-so-fashionable accessories scream “tourist.” To make yourself less of a target for theft, consider storing your cash and cards in your underwear.
Several bras and bottoms come with built-in pockets that make storing your money easier and safer. Some workout gear also comes with hidden compartments, plus it makes you look fit — not an easy mark for a thief.
3. On Your Wrist
If you’ll be traveling to a place where you know mobile payments are popular, why not simply wear a watch? The perk of this spot is that you don’t need to keep a card on you at all, making it impossible to steal.
What about the watch itself? While it’s technically true someone could take it by force, the majority of thefts are crimes of opportunity. It isn’t exactly sneaky to demand that a stranger take their watch off. And if it does happen, its built-in GPS should make it easy for law enforcement to find the perpetrator.
4. In a Travel Wallet
Your travel wallet shouldn’t be your everyday wallet. It should be trim and contain only the essentials: a debit card, credit card, license, insurance card, and cash. Leave your gym pass, rewards cards, and backup credit card at home.
Plus, a travel wallet makes it easier to unpack and pack for your trips. Your pockets will also hold your cards snugger, considering they haven’t been used before.
What if you’ll be traveling to an area where pickpocketing is a problem? Consider buying a dummy wallet to keep on you when you travel. Add a few bills to the wallet so it looks real and use it as a decoy. This way, if you’re pickpocketed, they won’t gain access to your finances.
5. In an Anti-Theft Bag
Not every travel bag or purse is created the same. When you’re traveling, it’s crucial you carry a bag with features designed to help you avoid becoming a victim of theft. Look for accessories like slash-resistant fabric, reinforced shoulder straps, lockable zippers, and enough space to hold your necessities.
There’s nothing wrong with taking style into consideration. Just make sure your bag doesn’t make you an easy target. Your Gucci purse is sure to stick out in rural Mexico.
6. In Your Luggage
If you’ll merely be traveling from an airport to a conference center, go ahead and keep your cards and cash in your luggage. Because luggage must be carried or strolled with you, it’s tough to steal. Someone would literally have to rip it out of your hands, which causes a scene.
If someone does steal your luggage, they likely won’t rifle through it in the street. Since they’ll have to carry the bag to an out-of-the-way location, it shouldn’t be tough for the police to track them down.
7. With Your Intimidating Friend
Traveling with friends is always safer than traveling alone. If you have a friend who no thief in their right mind would want to mess with, ask him or her to hold onto your wallet.
If you go this route, be sure you trust this person. While you might assume no friend would steal your financial information, stranger things have happened.
Even if your friend is trustworthy, beware of his or her state. Falling asleep on a train or overindulging in alcoholic drinks can make anyone an appealing target.
8. In Empty Packaging
If a thief catches you alone somewhere, he or she may force you to empty your pockets or bag. While not the most glamorous approach, keeping your cash and cards wrapped in trash works well.
Just be sure that the wrapper you choose is opaque. Old cellophane won’t obscure your valuables. Also, ensure it covers the card completely without giving away its rectangular shape. A wadded-up hamburger wrapper is the perfect solution.
9. In Your Bank
While relying on ATMs for cash isn’t technically carrying it, it’s a great approach when traveling. Many pickpockets would rather grab cash than worry about cards.
Because ATMs are built to take a beating and record each user’s face, they’re rarely targeted by thieves. Cyberattacks are a bigger concern when it comes to your bank account.
This approach works great with a dummy wallet. Put a couple of low-value bills in the wallet, but keep your debit card hidden somewhere else.
Most travelers know the risks, but not all of them go out of their way to protect themselves. It’s not enough to keep your wallet close; you have to be clever and cautious. Divvy up your money, store your cards safely, and make yourself a difficult target. Having multiple safeguards is never a bad idea. That way, all you have to do is enjoy your vacation.