Best Ways to Carry Cash While Traveling

Best Ways to Carry Cash While Traveling

Carrying large sums of cash while traveling is never a good idea, as there is always a risk of a misplaced wallet or theft. Tourists are easy targets and if you are not careful, pickpockets or petty thieves will steal your valuables from under your nose. Nothing can ruin plans faster than losing your cash. So, always carry a variety of payment options with you when traveling, including debit/credit cards, forex cards, travelers’ cheques, and cash. More and more people are opting for forex or travel cards in recent times. These cards allow you to load the desired amount of foreign currency before you leave your country. This way you can avoid international transaction fees that are usually levied by credit and debit cards. 

Depending on how and where you are traveling, you are usually required to carry some cash with you. In most Western countries, digital payment is widely accepted; but you still need to keep some local currency for local transport, tips, and emergencies. However, in lots of developing countries, cash payment is still the norm. In such cases, you are left with no option but to carry substantial amounts of cash with you at all times. Here is a handy guide to keeping your money safe and secure while you travel the world.


1).  Trim your wallet before you leave

When you are about to travel, take the time to check the contents of your wallet and remove everything that is not needed – local credit cards, club cards, library cards, shopping cards, metro cards, and so on. Just keep the essentials with you, like the ID card, a couple of credit/debit cards, driving license, an insurance card, etc. A bulky card is not only inconvenient but also catches the eye of pickpockets. It also helps to minimize the damage in case of any misfortune, as you will have fewer cards to replace.

2).  Never put money in your check-in baggage

This is suicidal. It is very easy to open and close suitcases and thefts from check-in luggage are very common. No airlines are going to compensate for the loss of money and valuables from your baggage. Additionally, bags often get lost or misplaced during transit and you might never see that money again.

3).  Divide Your Money and leave the major chunk in the hotel

This is pretty obvious, but a must. You cannot keep all your money in one place, as one incident of theft will leave you with nothing. When you venture out, only carry what you might need for the day. Stash the rest of the cash and other valuables in a locker or other secure location in your hotel or vacation rental. Also, don’t carry all your credit cards. If anything goes missing you have a backup option.

4).  Split the cash that you are carrying

Before stepping out, make a routine of organizing your money every morning. Split up the days’ worth of cash in small parts and place them safely in multiple spots. Keep the change and small denomination notes handy and separate from your wallet. This way, you won’t need to take out your wallet & pull out a 100 dollar/euro bill to buy a drink, snack, or ticket. No point in flashing your cash in front of others, as it might attract unwanted attraction. Don’t keep your wallet in a handy position, such as the back pocket of your trousers. If the wallet is not easily accessible to you, it won’t be easy for the pickpocket.  Use your wallet to keep bigger notes that you would require to last the day. Take out the wallet in a restaurant or some other safe place, instead of crowded landmarks and markets.

Hide the spare cash inside your under-clothing or other safe places. Remember that these hidden spots are not an alternative for your wallet. If you fish around for cash while making payments, you are giving the game away and will be labeled as a tourist. If the cash in your wallet doesn’t suffice; go to a private place, take out the required cash from the sneaky spots, put them in your wallet, and then proceed with your purchases. Here are some creative places to stash money.

  • Under-clothing storage: bra stashes, under-garments with built-in pockets, hidden pockets
  • Money Belt
  • Wrist Wallet
  • Leg money belt

5).  Carry a decoy wallet

If the destination is notorious for thefts & mugging, use a dummy wallet. Stuff a cheap decoy wallet with some smaller bills and fake/expired credit cards so that it looks real. Keep it in an obvious and accessible location, so that the pickpockets are diverted. In case of mugging or theft, they will walk away with your decoy wallet, little realizing most of the cash has been stowed somewhere else. Such a ploy also gives you time to raise the alarm or run to safety.

6).  Choose the bag wisely

Invest in a bag/purse/backpack that is travel-friendly. Reinforced shoulder straps, zippered pockets, slash-proof fabric, and hidden compartments are the basic requirements of a travel bag. Such features will make things difficult for pickpockets & thieves. If you are using an external bag, make sure that it can be worn crossbody. Keep it in the front of your body so that it is in your eye vision at all times. Tote bags are a definite no-no, as nothing is more inviting for thieves than a bag with no zipper closure. The contents of an open bag often spill out during security checks, making them a risky proposition while traveling. Backpacks are the most comfortable to carry, but they are prone to theft. It is easy for the pickpockets to access them as you can’t see what is happening behind your back, in this case literally.

7).  Wear travel-friendly clothing

I know wearing trendy and fashionable outfits is a must for your social media, but pay a little attention to safety. Wear clothes that have at least a couple of zipped or secret pockets. Put your wallet and cash in a pocket that is zipped and the front part of your clothing. The temptation of open & easily accessible pockets might be hard to resist by unscrupulous elements. 


8).  Don’t carry too much

Never carry too much cash at a time. When you need more currency, withdraw from ATMs – they can be found almost everywhere. Find out ahead of time which card has the lowest service charge. You might have to cough up hefty charges for overseas transactions, but you have to play it safe – especially if the theft risk is high in the region you are visiting.

9).  Avoid secluded ATMs

If you need to withdraw money, use ATMs that are located in busy areas (not crowded) or the airport/hotel/mall. And do not go there late at night or early morning. If you find someone to accompany you, it would be much safer. Withdrawing cash from a secluded ATM is asking for trouble as you will be providing an easy opportunity to the lurking thieves.

10).  Act Normal

If you are carrying lots of cash and show your nervousness, it will act as a beckon for thieves. Don’t fidget and keep checking your pockets, wallet, or hidden money. Act normal and calm, and no one might give you a second glance.

Despite taking all the precautions, you might still find yourself in trouble. Remember, shit can happen to anyone, anywhere. So, instead of panicking and spoiling your holiday completely, pull yourself together. It’s not the end of the world and you are strong enough to manage this. So, arrange for some money to compensate for your loss, give up the few luxuries you had planned, and make the most of the rest of your vacation.

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