Money / Security

Articles to be found on this page have diverse interests including: Currency, Money Matters, Security and, tips and hints on all of the above.

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- accessed by GC 25/02/2011

I was once a young naive traveler who often let my guard down while traveling. I didn’t want to be bothered with worrying about my things getting stolen. These days I travel with a lot more expensive electronics than I did in my younger years, so my level of comfort has changed.

Let me tell you a little story...

I once knew a girl who had been traveling all over western Europe by herself. Towards the end of her trip she got sick with the flu. While feeling miserable during a train ride from Prague to Amsterdam, she found a cabin all to herself, put on her headphones, and fell asleep to the melodic sounds coming from her ipod.

She felt safe inside her cabin since nobody else was there to steal her things. She was very smart to bring a money belt on this trip, but after the first couple weeks of travel, she decided it was unnecessary. In the midst of feeling tired and sick, she left her money belt in her backpack, which was right next to her while she was sleeping.

The next morning she awoke in Amsterdam feeling groggy and extremely sick. While exiting the train, she reached into her money belt to grab a few Euros to buy a croissant.

“What the hell?!” Where is the 250 Euro I had in here?”

After running the events of the previous night on the train through her head, she recalled waking up a few times to German men in uniforms opening the cabin doors, pointing flashlights into the cabin, then closing the doors.

 “They are just security checking on things,” she thought.

Well, they sure did check on things. They also helped themselves to 250 Euros from the girl’s backpack. They were nice enough to leave her passport and ATM card. Thank god for that!!

Okay, so if you hadn’t already figured it out, that story was about my younger self. I’m a little ashamed that I actually let that happen and that I 

wasn't more careful. In order to help out other travelers, I’ve put together a short list of tips for keeping your belongings safe.

Tips For Keeping Your Belongings Safe While Traveling:

    • While Sleeping on a train, bus, crowded hostel room, or any other public place, always keep your money, passport, credit cards and camera memory cards on you. Preferably in a money belt. Most likely you will wake up if somebody tries reaches down your pants while you are sleeping. At least I hope so.
    • Always keep your valuables (ie. camera, laptop, or anything else you don’t want stolen) with you. Don’t put them under the bus or give them to a taxi/van driver offering to put your bags in the trunk. I always keep my bag on my lap.
    • If I’m sleeping on a train or in a public place, I use a lock or PacSafe for my small backpack and lock it to something secure or sleep with my arms around it. (Oh, and I would suggest not listening to your headphones while sleeping in a public place.)
    • The best option that I have personally found for carrying my money and passport while walking around town is a money belt that goes around my waist. (I put these items in a Ziploc bag inside the money belt or your passport may get ruined from sweat.) I can fit it under shorts, skirts, pants and most dresses. We also have a water wallet to carry our money and hotel key while surfing or other times we know we will be getting wet.
    • When booking a hotel or hostel, make sure it has good reviews when it comes to security and they offer a locker or in-room safe.
    • Don’t get wasted and walk around alone in unfamiliar territory. (Which is something I also did in Amsterdam, but luckily nothing bad happened.)

Scams to Look Our For While Traveling:

  • Be on the look out for anybody who is offering to help you with your bags at a train or bus station. We once had a guy who didn’t seem to work at the station, but was offering to help people with translating the announcements and informing them when their train had arrived.

When our train arrived he followed us to our cabin and offered to put our bags on the top shelf for us. I refused to hand over my small bag. I later realized he was probably going through people’s bags as he was putting them up top because you couldn’t see from outside the cabin.

  • South America and other parts of the world have their fair share of scammers looking to steal your money and valuables. Swindlers can create elaborate plans to trick you into letting down your guard and steal your belongings before you even know what hit you.

A friend of ours got his money and passport stolen while trying to leave Argentina. The scam involved three people. The first part of the plan was to put a white cream on the back of our friend’s shirt without him knowing. Then an older lady informed him there was something on his shirt and offered him a tissue to wipe it off.

He took off his backpack in order to reach the back of his shirt. When he turned around he saw the older lady running away with his bag and he wasn’t able to catch up with her quick enough to eliminate losing his passport, money and camera. He was then forced to stay in the country and endure the long and expensive process of getting another passport

  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times. If something seems out of the ordinary, just keep walking and don’t take off your bag for anything.

I’m not saying the world is a horrible place or that you should be scared to travel. As long as you are careful while traveling and stay aware of your surroundings, especially in transit, you will be fine and able to enjoy your travels. These are just a few tips and stories that might help you avoid the same mistakes others have made. Ninety to ninety five percent of the time you don’t need to worry and you will encounter genuinely friendly people.


Ten Ways to Save Money While Travelling

- by Bryan & Laurie on GotSaga

- accessed by GC 21/02/2011

Travelling is usually fun, but sometimes added expenses and fees can cause frustration. Furthermore, if you have more money in your pocket, you’ll be able to travel longer or splurge on something more expensive when the time is right. The following tips can help you hang on to your cash while travelling abroad.

1) Don’t Drink Alcohol

This is probably the most difficult sacrifice for many travellers. Drinking and travelling often go hand in hand. However, in many countries, beer, wine, and other liquors can be one of the most expensive categories in a travel budget. In foreign countries where most items are cheap, alcohol is often imported or overpriced. It isn’t made locally, and can sometimes cost more than the same beverage at home. Cutting it out, or at least minimizing your intake, could mean an extra few days or weeks on the road.

2) Go Overland

Although fast and convenient, flights are expensive. Taking a train or bus between cities or countries will not only save you money, but also let you experience more of the place you’re visiting. In the end you’ll have some great stories to tell and extra money in your pocket.

3) Take Local Transportation

Depending on where you are, the names might change, but Le Metro and the Chicken Bus are the cheapest way to get around. Taxis and tour buses often cater to tourists, but at tourist prices. To save a lot of cash, go like the locals.

4) Eat Street Food

Food can be one of the main reasons why people travel. But many restaurants, especially in tourist areas, can be overpriced. If you truly want to experience the cuisine of the land, look for the holes in the wall, fast food stalls, and vendor carts. Just make sure everything is cooked thoroughly and you’ll be safe.

5) Negotiate

In most parts of the world, negotiating is the norm. Tourists from the U.S. and Europe are generally not accustomed to this, because it’s just not part of our society. Many locals are expecting you to negotiate, and so they offer higher prices in anticipation of your counter-offer. Be polite but firm when you offer a lower price, and generally the vendor will meet you somewhere in the middle.

6) Use Coupons and Look for Discounts

Many travel websites offer discounts, not just for hotels or flights, but also for restaurants and sights. Additionally, museums in many major cities offer discounted or free tickets on specific days of the week, or to students or seniors. A little planning can go a long way.

7) Don’t Hire A Tour Guide

Most guidebooks include volumes of facts, history, and entertaining information about the place you’re visiting. Many will lay out a walking tour of a city or historical site. Use these resources instead of splurging on a tour company, and you can save money as well as move at your own pace.

8) Go During The Shoulder Season

High season prices are a result of supply and demand. Low season prices generally reflect the reasons why people don’t visit a place at certain times during the year, such as bad weather. Travelling during the shoulder season will usually get you discounted rates along with decent weather, too.

9) Get Off of the Beaten Track

Famous sites are famous for a reason, but every restaurant and taxi nearby will try to take advantage of their proximity. If you want to eat amazing and cheap French food, don’t go to the restaurant next to the Louvre. Instead, wander into some other neighborhoods where the locals eat. The prices will be fair and the cuisine will be authentic.

10) Know Your Credit Card and ATM Fees

Depending on the credit card that you use, you may find yourself paying up to 10% more if you use it in a foreign country. Knowing how much your various cards will charge you for regular purchases, ATM withdrawals, and currency conversions can keep you from paying hidden but expensive fees. Read the fine print. Often, ATM cards will give the best currency conversion rates, but it ultimately depends on your bank and the bank of the ATM you‘re using. Consider opening an account with a different card company or bank if you think your current card has too many fees.


5 Travel Tips when Leaving your Home

- by Sam Murray on Travelated

- accessed by GC on 16/02/2011

If you add up all the time invested on planning, organising, and worrying about a trip there is enough stress to warrant a holiday. A holiday or a special trip is something you work all year for you and that sometimes results in pressure to make sure everything is perfect. Whether you spend the last couple of weeks meticulously planning your trip, or the last remaining hours before looking for misplaced booking documents and arguing about where to exchange your money – Most of us leave our home in a far from composed state. The time old clichés of “Are you sure I locked the front door?” or “will next door find the spare key in the bushy geranium?” come to mind.

It is at these times when home security should be given consideration. In 2008/2009, the Home Office funded British Crime Survey (BCS) published that there were 744,000 burglaries reported in the UK in 2009. A statistic that indicates a particularly worrying fact – one burglary every 37 seconds.

However, it is not all doom and gloom; there are various routine checks that you can make before going away that will dramatically reduce the risk of your property being targeted: Here are our top 5 travel tips for when you are leaving your home to travel:

1. Double check you locked doors and windows

It may seem like common sense but the recent report highlights that doors and windows account for the entry point of 70% and 27% of all UK burglaries respectively.

2. Cancel Daily / Weekly Subscriptions

The build up of milk on the doorstep or a weekly magazine is a classic mistake travellers often make before they go away. Nothing informs a burglar better that no one is home than a doorstep full of unused items.

3. Keep your Holiday Tags hidden

Thieves are intelligent and adapt to suit potential opportunities. Studies have shown that burglars often head to airports and look for the addresses on the baggage tags before they make their move – make sure it’s not yours they write down.

4. Invest in light timers

It wouldn’t surprise anyone that 56% of all burglaries reported occurred at night.

5. Ask a neighbour or join a neighbourhood watch scheme

Joining a neighbourhood watch scheme or simply asking both next door neighbours to check on your property to remove obvious signs of your lack of presence is a simple yet very effective method. 90% of offenders stated they actively avoided houses with signs of occupancy.

If you tick off these simple tips before you go you can kick back and relax without the worry of your home security.

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Saving Money on Meals While Travelling

- By Rease K on Travelator

- accessed by GC on 16/02/2011

Traveling involves so many extra and often unexpected costs, cutting down on what you spend on food can really free up some cash to spend on more exciting travel experiences.

Don’t Buy Airport Food

Airport food is not only incredibly unhealthy and generally disappointing, it’s also outrageously overpriced. When flying domestically, brown bagging it is a great option. I’m not saying you have to pack yourself a PB&J and carrot sticks, just go cheap. Try picking up a $5 sub sandwich and some chips before going to the airport- cheap, delicious and 100% acceptable while passing through security.

If you’re flying internationally, it’s a little trickier. Keep in mind that there will be in flight meal service. You are also allowed to bring extra snacks (which are undoubtedly much cheaper than the ones you can pay extra for on the plane) but you will not be allowed to bring any unsealed food products or produce. However, that still leaves you with a decent amount of options. Try packing things such as granola bars, dried fruit and crackers, these things are all allowed through security and can hold you over until you land if the in flight meal leaves something to be desired.

Search Out the Beloved Words: “Breakfast Included”

Why waste money on breakfast when you can get it included in your stay? Of course nicer hotels will offer you a full spread of tasty bagels, cereals, eggs, etc., but even bargain-priced hostels will generally offer some bread and jam for breakfast. Enjoy the most important meal of the day, but do not pay for it.

Book a Hotel/Hostel with a Kitchen

Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you have to go out to eat for every single meal. Try to book a room that includes a small kitchenette, shared or private. Hostels almost always have a shared kitchen area. It won’t be equipped with all the latest and greatest utensils, but you’ll certainly be able to whip up some simple dishes. If you can manage to cook a few dinners a week you will save yourself a sizable amount of cash.

Be a Smart Shopper

When you go to the grocery store while traveling, make sure you are in travel mode. You don’t need to stock up on eggs and milk. Try to avoid any large amounts of perishable items or unnecessary extras like spices. Save your master chef skills for when you get home and think simple: noodles, pre-made sauce, granola bars, bread, deli meat, fruits and crackers. Plan out what you want to cook and get the bare necessities.

Pack Your Lunch

When you are out and about it’s always so easy to spot a cafe and decide to treat yourself to a pricey lunch. You should definitely do this every so often but you can also break up the routine and pack a sandwich with some chips and fruit. Grab a soda from a nearby store and hunt down a nice park bench and you have yourself a pleasant outdoor dining experience without the damage to your wallet.

Rease Kirchner a staff writer/Travel Adviser for Travelated. She is a US citizen currently living the ex-pat life in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is bilingual and an experienced traveler. She loves gaining and sharing knowledge of local cultures, customs and adventure. Her blog Mi Vida en Buenos Aires documents her life as a foreigner.

Click here to visit Travelated