Nothing can ruin a carefully-planned vacation quicker than robbery. Trying to track down all the phone numbers to report your stolen credit cards is no one’s idea of a great way to spend a vacation — to say nothing of the more straightforward pain of stolen cash. Once that’s gone, it’s pretty much guaranteed not to come back to you.
Most of us have to scrimp and save to afford a vacation in the first place. Losing your wallet — or worse — while you’re on the road can easily turn a financial stretch into a full-on fiasco. (By the way, if you’re looking for a super-simple way to save money on your next RV trip, consider signing up for a Passport America membership. Yes, it’s a $50 expenditure… but that one-time cost covers your membership for a whole year, and you get 50% off your campsite accommodation fees at almost 1900 campgrounds across the nation. It easily pays for itself in just one quick weekend trip!)
Fortunately, if you’re savvy enough to take a few precautions, you can seriously diminish your chance of falling victim to petty thievery. And don’t worry, our safe-money-carrying advice doesn’t involve a fanny pack!
Best Way to Carry Money While Traveling
Here’s our best advice for the safest way to carry cash, credit cards, and other valuables while you’re traveling.
1. Limit how much actual cash you carry.
Perhaps the best way to carry cash when you’re in foreign territory… is not to carry it at all. Or at least, not much of it.
Unlike credit cards, which can be replaced (and have fraudulent charges refunded to you), once cash is gone, it’s gone. So try to limit how much you keep with you when you’re on the road.
2. Let your bank know where you’re going.
Another reason credit is arguably better than cash: most card companies offer free security monitoring services, which can help keep you from getting hit by identity theft and false charges.
But those security measures mean if you swipe your card in Maine when the bank thinks you’re supposed to be in Florida… the transaction might not go through.
Although this can generally be resolved with a simple phone call, do yourself a favor and tell the bank your plans ahead of time. That way, you’ll rest easy knowing your cards will keep working at your destination.
3. If you are traveling with cash or valuable items, leave them in your (secure, locked) rig.
It’s a lot easier to lose something if you’re not carrying it on your person.
That said, you want to make sure your RV is secure when you’re leaving for the day, especially if you’ve got valuable items stored inside. Some campers invest in security cameras, which can be monitored remotely from your cell phone. These systems are surprisingly affordable; for instance, this model is currently available on Amazon for less than $50!
You could also consider investing in a safe, which has the added bonus of providing fire-proof storage for important documents… but keep in mind that an intruder could simply pick up the whole thing and take it with her to break into later.
How to Keep Credit Cards Safe While Traveling
Although credit is more secure than cash, it can still get stolen. Here are some steps for avoiding that fate.
4. Be on the lookout for skimmers and other technology-based thievery.
With today’s advanced technology, thieves don’t have to take your cards out of your hands to steal your credit. According to NerdWallet, they can steal your information remotely with radio-frequency identification skimmers, or with contraptions hidden in point-of-sale systems.
Although it’s hard to avoid risks entirely, always be conscious of where you’re swiping, and consider investing in an RFID-blocking travel wallet which can thwart these sneaky attempts.
5. Don’t fall victim to pickpocketing.
Obviously, the most straightforward form of theft is having something literally taken from you. Although different parts of the world have different levels of pickpocketing risk, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on what’s going on around you — not just to protect your cash, but also your personal safety.
You can also invest in special devices to help you keep your money closer to your body and safer, which we’ll get into in the next section.
How to Hide Valuables While Traveling
If you can’t stand the idea of traveling without cash and you don’t want to leave it in your rig, you may be wondering how to hide your cash while you’re traveling. Fortunately, this is a problem travelers have faced since time immemorial, and they’ve come up with some pretty amazing solutions.
A money belt can help you store cash on your person and keep it easily accessible without alerting thieves to its presence — and at less than $20, it’s a really affordable option. Other manufacturers have also created special spandex belts with money pouches and hidden wallets, which can keep your goods safe even if you aren’t wearing pants with traditional belt loops. Once again, they’re very affordable and easy to wear.
Finally, if you’re really looking to up your game, you could consider investing in a specialized travel backpack or bag, which has a variety of different safety technologies built in to help keep your stuff secure. For instance, PacSafe is a company that makes a wide variety of different types of bags and travel money holders that feature slash-proof materials, reinforced straps, hidden zippers, locking technology and more. Whether you’re looking for a backpack, a stylish handbag, or a unisex cross-body messenger, you can find a worry-free way to tote your goods no matter where you go.
Keeping your stuff safe at your destination is obviously a top priority, but nothing comes before your personal health and well-being.
If you’re ever in a situation where you can choose between parting with your life or your money, choose the latter. After all, even cash is replaceable — but you and your family members aren’t.
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