On vacations, it’s best to travel light when carrying cash, cards

NEW YORK — The last thing any traveler wants is to lose a wallet, whether it’s misplaced or taken by a pickpocket, in the middle of a vacation.

As the summer travel season approaches, it’s a good time to review the financial rules of the road. Consumers who take a few precautions before they leave home can help ensure that their cash and credit cards are safe and secure, whether their trips take them to a nearby state or overseas.

“We don’t want to be alarmist, because people can run into problems in their own neighborhoods, too,” said Nancy Dunnan, publisher of travelsmartnewsletter.com in New York. “But losses can be much harder to deal with if you’re away from home and you don’t know the local procedures or, sometimes, the local language.”

Dunnan said the first thing people need to do is limit what they carry with them. In most cases, she recommends no more than two credit cards — one for regular use and the other for backup — or one credit card and one debit card for cash withdrawals.

“It helps to notify the card issuers you’ll be traveling, so they don’t put a hold on the card when they start seeing charges from an unfamiliar place,” Dunnan said. “And you should double check your limits so you don’t go over the top.”

Dunnan also recommends families carry traveler’s checks. Although the availability of automated teller machines, or ATMs, has made traveler’s checks less essential, they remain a good source of cash if credit or debit cards are lost or stolen.

“The amount (of traveler’s checks) you need depends on the length of the trip,” she said. “But it doesn’t hurt to have anywhere from $250 to $500 to get you through a difficult time.”

For those traveling abroad, it can be a good idea to buy in advance the equivalent of $100 in the currency of the country you’re visiting. That way, you can cover taxi fares, porters’ tips and other expenses you may incur before you have time to change money.

How you carry money and credit cards around affects your security, said Sarah Schlichter, editor of the independenttraveler.com Web site, based in Pennington, N.J.

Schlichter, an ardent traveler abroad, keeps her credit cards and dollars “in a money belt under my clothes.” Then, she said, she puts the equivalent of $100 in local currency in a cheap, plastic wallet that she keeps in her pocket.

“That way, when I’m pulling out my wallet, I’m only exposing a limited amount of local currency,” which presumably is less attractive to a thief than a large amount of dollars, she said.

Schlichter also said people need to stay aware of their surroundings, both at home and abroad.

“You have to use common sense,” she said. “There are thieves and pickpockets in New York City — just the way there are in Rome.”

That means choosing ATMs inside banks or in hotel lobbies and “not in a dark, creepy alley,” she said.

Schlichter suggests couples or friends traveling together split their cards and cash so that if one is robbed or loses something, the other has backup resources.

For those who don’t have access to a hotel safe, it’s a good idea to keep your money, main credit card, passport and airline tickets on your person at all times. Your backup card should be kept somewhere else that’s safe. This is especially true for those sleeping in hostels or traveling on crowded trains or ferries, she said.

“The last place you want to carry everything is in a purse or backpack,” she cautioned, saying they were the target of many thieves. “If you find yourself in a crowded place, keep your bag in front of you with your arms over it.”

The U.S. State Department, which has travel safety tips on its site at travel.state.gov, suggests travelers leave behind “anything you would hate to lose,” including valuable jewelry, irreplaceable family objects, your Social Security card, library card and other membership cards you’re unlikely to need.

Don’t list full credit and debit card numbers, but the phone numbers to contact if the cards are lost or stolen.

Carry one copy in a safe place, away from the cards and documents themselves, and leave another back home with a friend, relative or colleague in case of emergencies, they said.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Think Tank Cowork in Everett, Washington on July 19, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
The first co-working space opens in downtown Everett

Think Tank Cowork’s owner hopes the facility will inspire other business owners to call Everett home.

New LGI Homes on Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Sultan, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The real estate market took an abrupt turn this spring

Mortgage rates are up, but home inspections, seller concessions are back on the table for buyers.

The Lab@Arlington is a new one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and inventors located at 404 N. Olympic Ave. (Photo credit: TheLab@Arlington)
New Arlington business incubator opens

TheLab@Arlington is a new one-stop shop for entrepreneurs, inventors and business owners.

Patrons view the 787 exhibition Thursday morning at the Boeing Future of Flight Musuem at Paine Field on October 8, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Paine Field was county’s No. 1 tourist attraction. Not now

Snohomish County officials hope festivals and outdoor activities will fill Paine Field tourist gap.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood Chamber of Commerce ‘can’t keep the doors open’

The chamber is set to shut down at the end of the month due to financial challenges.

Maria Rios, a ferry worker of 13 years, helps Frank and Fran Butler, both of Washington, D.C., check out as the couple purchases food on Thursday, July 21, 2022, aboard the MV Suquamish ferry between Mukilteo and Clinton, Washington. Rios said food service returned to the Suquamish about three weeks prior. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Drink up! Happy hour on the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry is back

More galleys are reopening as pandemic restrictions scale back. Get out of your car for concessions just like at the ballpark.

OnTrac Logistics has leased a building now under construction at Bay Wood Business Park on Everett's waterfront. The shipping company will open a facility there later this year that will employ 400 people. (Artist Rendering/Broderick Group.)
New Everett shipping facility to generate 400 jobs

OnTrac Logistics has leased a new building on the 12½-acre Baywood Business Park on Everett’s waterfront.

The Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum at Paine Field in Everett. (Janice Podsada / The Herald) 20220419
Flying Heritage Museum to reopen with new owner at Paine Field

Walmart heir Steuart Walton bought the historic aircraft and artifacts. The museum is set to reopen within the year.

Renee's Contemporary Clothing store at 2820 Colby Ave. on July 11, 2022. The iconic downtown Everett store is closing in August after 29 years in business. (Janice Podsada/The Herald)
Renee’s, another iconic downtown Everett store, is closing

After 29 years in business, the longstanding clothing shop will shutter. In-person sales slowed when stores reopened.

FILE - The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Boeing is reporting a money-losing quarter as both its civilian-airplane division and the defense business are struggling. Boeing said Wednesday, April 27, 2022,  that it lost $1.24 billion in the first quarter and took large write-downs for several programs.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)
Boeing sees best month for aircraft deliveries since 2019

The company delivered 51 passenger and cargo planes in June, its best month for deliveries in recent years.

The Alderwood Towne Center, a 105,000 square-foot strip mall, is located at 3105-3225 Alderwood Mall Blvd. The mall, which has been sold, is home to 20 businesses, including anchor tenants Marshalls and Michaels. Photo Credit: CBRE Group.
Lynnwood strip mall near Link Light Rail Station sold

Alderwood Towne Center, home to 20 businesses, could eventually be redeveloped to take advantage of light rail.

James Berntson shows how his farm uses a trellis system to control tomato plants on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at Radicle Roots Farm in Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Backyard business: Snohomish farm thrives on less than one acre.

James Berntson grew Radicle Roots Farm using smart crop planning and organic practices.