I’ve been mugged, had my identity stolen and been ripped off overseas more times than I can count. For seasoned travellers these things are part of the job description. If you’re planning to go overseas or have found yourself in one of these situations, here’s how to tackle five money nightmares every traveller risks encountering – because no holiday should be cut short due to money misadventures.
A close friend had his identity stolen at an Australian airport. Had he of known where he threw his trash, it may have been different.
An English friend of mine arrived in Sydney to the news that a personal loan he’d taken out was maxed out. This is devastating news for anyone to hear, but it’s even worse when you never took out a personal loan to begin with. Turns out someone had stolen his identity from a plane ticket stub he had thrown in the airport bin.
You always think identity theft won’t happen to you until it does – take extra precautions when you’re moving from place to place and dispose carefully of anything with your details on it. As it turns out, you need to know where your personal details are disposed of even in the relative safety of Australia, and though you don’t think about it initially the hardest part of identity theft isn’t regaining your identity but rather repairing it. Luckily, the Federal Trade Commission detail steps on retracing your alter ego.
Having cash on you is important when travelling. It’s also pretty important to thieves.
I was mugged in Amsterdam of all places, but luckily the thief only got away with 20 Euros. This is because I listened to the advice of a fellow, seasoned traveler: I split up my money and then sewed a pouch under my chest pocket to keep my passport, ID and credit cards safe. This is why listening to other travelers experiences is so vital – you can ensure the same thing doesn’t happen to you, and that your belongings remain yours.
Credit card account hijacking
You’ll be paying for some pretty crazy things while abroad – just make sure all your transactions are actually yours.
I had already been stung by some unexpected overseas fees and ATM withdrawal fees, but it was after a night out with friends abroad that I noticed some unusual transactions on my credit card (It was also then that I remembered the waitstaff staring at my card during payment multiple times that night).
I didn’t waste any time – I called the bank and they reversed the charges immediately. This ease of reversing charges is one of the godsends of credit cards – If I’d been using a debit card it might not have been as quick a turn-around. In certain situations it always helps to be using credit as banks may be able to retrieve funds more quickly.
Make sure your card is going to work with you when you travel and be mindful of how you’re spending on your credit card overseas. In any case, your bank will tell you what you need to do the second something fishy appears on your statements.
Getting stuck with no cash
Cash is king, so make sure you always have access to it.
Everyone knows South-East Asia is the world capital of bartering prices, so I wanted to make sure I actually had cash to barter with. I went for a travel card with no foreign transaction fees, so I was only paying for money I was actually spending. Many travel money cards also let you lock in exchange rates, so you know how much cash you have to spend before you leave.
Make sure you’ll be able to withdraw cash from ATMs in the country you’ll be visiting, otherwise your negotiation powers may not be that influential for very long. Oh, and for those of you with little negotiating skills, here’s a quick guide to get you up to speed.
Getting ripped off when exchanging currencies
You’re going to have to hand over cash this holiday, so make sure it’s to the best hands possible.
Arriving in Heathrow airport for the first time and with no local currency, getting to an exchange service was my first priority. Spotting a foreign exchange stand in the airport, I couldn’t believe my luck – I wasn’t even in London yet. Once I was in London, however, I noticed that the exchange rates on offer outside of the cushy airport were much lower, with some being almost half the price. Like domestic travel, don’t just look for the quickest deals on services – get your money’s worth by looking for the best deal possible
Just because you’re travelling, it doesn’t mean you should care less about prices. Give every financial decision the same weight you would as if you were making it at home.
Traveling offers you no plenty of surprises, but they’re not all going to be free hotel room upgrades. Next time you travel be smart about your finances and savvy with your cash to avoid waking up in a scene from The Hangover.
Featured photo credit: picjumbo.com via media.lifehack.org