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How Smart Travellers Protect Their Finances

Going travelling can be expensive, even if you're doing your best to do it on a shoestring budget. You might not necessarily be spending too much, but you can still end up spending more than you would while you're at home. What's more, when you're travelling in another country, you might be wary of carrying around your cards or cash. You could be risking a lot of money when you book a trip away, so thinking about how to protect your finances is an important part of your travels. Before you go anywhere, you can take some steps to keep your money secure.

Make Sure Anything You Book is Protected
Whenever you see an advert for a travel agent or holiday company, you probably hear them say that their holidays are "ATOL protected". But perhaps you've never actually lookup what that means. ATOL, which stands for Air Travel Organisers' Licence, is the scheme that protects your holiday when you book it through a travel agent. Your holiday must be protected if you book a package trip or "flight plus", which is when you book flights along with accommodation or car hire. If you're not flying, your holiday might be protected by ABTA instead. This scheme protects you on holidays like cruises or coach or rail holidays.
Know Your Consumer Rights
Not everyone books a package holiday or a "flight plus" holiday. Some people prefer to organise everything themselves so they have more control and can find the best deal. But just because your trip isn't protected under ATOL or ABTA, it doesn't mean you don't have rights. It's important to be familiar with the consumer rights you have so that you can make claims for things like delayed flights or cancelled accommodation. Sometimes this means having to be familiar with consumer rights abroad. Even though your holiday isn't automatically protected, you could still make claims for things like delayed flights, lost baggage or inadequate service. The first thing you should do in a quest for compensation is write to the company.
Book with Your Credit Card
If you want to give yourself an extra level of protection when organising your holiday, using a credit card to pay is a good idea. The reason for doing this is that if your purchase costs between £100 and £30,000, your credit card company accepts liability if you're let down by a holiday or travel provider. However, there are rules about when a credit card company will pay you. They are likely to want proof that the company providing the service was at fault. So if your flight is delayed due to the weather, your credit card company is unlikely to help you out.

Take Out Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is the top way to make sure your finances are safe when you go away. Not only can it help to protect anything you've booked, from flights to accommodation, but it can cover you for medical emergencies too. There are some countries, such as the US, where you don't want to end up having to go to the hospital if you don't have travel insurance. You could end up paying a lot of money for something relatively minor. You can find out more about why it's so important to take out travel insurance here. Your insurance policy could also cover lost and stolen possessions, money and credit cards. It's important not to see travel insurance as an unnecessary expense. It can cover a range of things that could end up being very expensive without the insurance.
Tell Your Bank Where You're Going
Letting your bank know where you're going when you go travelling isn't essential, but it is a good idea. It will help to prevent identity fraud, and it will stop your bank from assuming your identity has been stolen when your card is suddenly used in Thailand. Some banks will automatically put a stop on your card if they notice something unusual so if it's used in a foreign country without warning, you could find yourself without a working card. Many banks let you report that you're going away online, or you can phone them. Make sure you have the number to call if you have any problems with your card, just in case.
Take the Right Gadgets
Some clever gadgets can help you look after your cash when you're travelling. Some people recommend keeping your cards and money in a money belt. However, this can be a bit like wearing a big neon sign that says "tourist", which can make you a target for pickpocketing. Instead, consider using a secure wallet, such as one that blocks RFID technology. It will prevent anyone from reading your cards or the biometric chip in your passport. You can also use other tools to keep your money and cards safe, like a Bluetooth tracker attached to or inside your wallet.

Spend Money with the Right Method
One of the big questions when you're travelling is how you should spend your money. Should you use a card to pay, take out cash from ATMs, or just exchange a chunk of cash before you go? The answer is that it really depends. There are lots of ways you can save money on exchange rates, so it's worth it to plan in advance. If you're going to use a card, make sure you check the fees that using it overseas will incur. As a general rule, a credit card is cheaper to use than a debit card. If you're going to exchange some cash before you go, don't do it at the airport. You're bound to get worse rates than those from your bank or the Post Office.
Make Use of the Hotel Safe
If you stay in a hotel, many of them will put a safe in each room. It's worth making use of it to store your cash, as well as any other valuables. Perhaps you decided to exchange a large sum of money before travelling. You don't want to carry it all around while you're exploring, so leave some of it behind in the safe. You can also get travel safes, which are useful if you don't have a safe in your room. You can attach them to something in your room, so they can't just be carried away. Try something like the Pacsafe Travelsafe.

Be Sensible with Your Valuables
While a money belt might not be the best choice to keep your things safe, you still need to be careful with whatever you do keep your valuables in. A lot of men keep their wallets in their back pockets, while women often put everything in one bag. Being smart about how to carry your things to avoid theft or forgetfulness is important. However, if you've ever been in any large city, you're likely to be familiar with how to keep your things safe. Be vigilant and keep a firm grip on your bag. Try a backpack, perhaps even with a small lock on the zip when you're travelling, and hook it around your leg or your chair when you're sitting down.
Protect Your Mobile Devices
If you're taking a smartphone, tablet or laptop on your travels, make sure it's password protected. Many of us store financial information on our mobile devices to make it easy to pay for things. If any of these items is stolen and isn't protected, your financial information could be stolen too.

There are many ways you can make sure your money and valuables are secure when you travel. Be cautious and plan ahead to protect your finances.

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(Collaboration Post)

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