This is the time of year when many of us travel to family reunions, weddings, for vacation and business. On a recent trip to Ireland, my wallet was stolen out of my purse while crossing a street with a group of people. The audacity, not to mention the professionalism, of the pickpocket!! I never felt a thing; I looked down and my purse was unzipped and the wallet and its contents gone.
That incident has prompted me to caution others about personal travel safety and to review how I protect myself. The following tips may help you as well.
- Contact your credit and debit card companies about two weeks before leaving home to set up a travel alert. Otherwise, your cards could be denied when you try to use them.
- Make a photocopy of your cards and your passport if traveling internationally. Leave one copy at home and place a copy in your carry-on bag, not your checked bag, which could be lost or opened by TSA inspectors.
- Don’t carry your money and your credit or debit cards in the same wallet. If traveling with a spouse or another adult family member, split up your money and cards so each of you has some in case of loss or theft. If you are traveling without a spouse, use two small coin purses or two small wallets, one with a day’s supply of money and the credit or debit card you expect to use that day, the other with your excess cash and cards.
- If traveling internationally, wear a money belt around your waist, not your neck (that shouts “tourist”). Place excess money and cards in the money belt and possibly your passport as well. Drivers license and medical cards should also be carried in the money belt. (Yes, you will look like you gained 5 pounds, but better safe than sorry.)
- Don’t place money or valuables in a backpack. I can’t tell you how many young people we saw who opened a backpack to get their wallets, passports and/or airline boarding passes.
- Don’t carry large amounts of cash. It is better to use a credit or debit card than to lose hundreds of dollars.
- Your passport should be kept in a secure location away from your money.
- Men should carry their wallets in a front pocket. Women should carry a small purse that can be worn across the body. The most secure style will have both a zipper and a snap closure. Large bags are a temptation for thieves.
- Never leave your purse out of your sight even for a minute. Don’t hang it on the back of a chair or lay it on a bench; keep it on your body at all times.
- Report theft or loss to the police. You may not get your money or wallet back (I didn’t) but the police will be alerted to the situation.
- If your credit or debit cards are lost or stolen, immediately contact your credit card company.
Alsocontact one of the three major credit reporting bureaus and place a fraud alert on youraccount. The bureau you contact will inform the other two bureaus.
Hopefully you will never have to go through what I did if you do everything possible to protect your money and ID. My drivers license and insurance card were also in my wallet. Fortunately, I had my passport and my traveling companion had money to get us home.