Managing your money is a vital part of making sure you have a hassle-free gap year. Here are some top tips for keeping your money safe:
Don't carry a lot of cash: Divide your cash and keep it in separate areas. It's good to keep some in your purse, in a zipped pocket and an emergency stash hidden away. Keep it hidden and don't advertise it.
Consider getting a prepaid overseas card before you travel. A prepaid overseas card works by allowing you to buy an amount of foreign currency and using it as and when you need it. Unlike a credit or debit card, you can only spend the money which is available to you on a prepaid overseas card, so there's no danger of going overdrawn or getting into any debt. If your card is lost or stolen, it can be reported and blocked, so nobody else will be able to spend your money, making it a great way to keep your money safe abroad.
Taking a money belt is a recommended means of keeping your money safe. However, there are some important things to consider. Thieves are now aware that tourists wear money belts, having seen travellers pay for items by lifting up their top to access the money. You can also often see the line of a money belt under your clothes so it can potentially make you a target. Regardless of this it's probably still a good idea to take one, predominantly because if a thief is going to steal money, it's usually done by opportunistically snatching a bag. So do take one, but don't use it as a regular wallet and keep it well hidden.
Make sure you carry a wide variety of denominations of local currency for your chosen destinations. Save the bigger notes for paying for more expensive items such as meals in restaurants, transport, tours or purchasing goods in reputable shops. If you buy an item in a market or pay a taxi driver with a big note, they might not have sufficient change or more importantly they may assume you have a lot of cash on you and could try to rip you off, or worse, try to steal from you.
If you take more than one bankcard with you, keep them separate. If you lose a card or have one stolen, it's easy to cancel it. However, it's not easy to get a replacement. Even if you order a replacement straight away it may take a while to arrive or you may have moved on before it comes through. If you are with a friend they may be able to lend you money temporarily but you are travelling alone you won't have this fallback option. If you do have a spare card, at least you can continue to withdraw cash with it and you will save yourself a lot of hassle and worry.
Remember to keep the stolen/lost contact helpline numbers for your bankcards with you. It may be useful to keep a copy of the numbers on a saved email and a copy with your parents/family/friends back home. If you are travelling to a potentially dangerous area, it is advisable to carry a wallet with a small amount of cash and a credit card that is past its expiry date. If a mugger approaches you, you can then offer them the expired card as a decoy. If there is a safe place to keep your bankcards in your accommodation, this is recommended. Only carry cash and not bankcards. A common street crime in some cities is to take a victim to an ATM and demand that they withdraw money from their bank account. If you are not carrying a bankcard, you remove this risk.
Keeping your money safe will make sure you have complete peace of mind when it comes to financing your gap year and if you follow some of these basic precautions you can rest easy on your travels.