Tips on how to look after your money abroad

Written by Jamie Tullett

Whether you are planning your pre-uni big budget gap year, a self-searching backpacking extended break or just a boozy holiday with your mates, keeping your money secure is always important and can

Whether you are planning your pre-uni big budget gap year, a self-searching backpacking extended break or just a boozy holiday with your mates, keeping your money secure is always important and can make or break your trip of a lifetime.

With the global financial market spiralling downwards there is no shortage of people trying to scam or steal money from unsuspecting tourists. This guide will provide a few helpful tips on keeping your wonga safe, as well as showing you how to get the most from your money when you do have to spend it.

Get a great rate

Most often you will find that exchanging your pounds into foreign tender can be done easily and at the best rate whilst still in the UK, so make sure you add currency to your list of essential pre-trip purchases (alongside sunscreen, boob tubes and mankinis). One of the best ways to find your closest and most competitive money exchange service is by heading to For those in London, the best conversion you can find is often at Thomas’ global exchange on the Strand.

 Keeping things plastic

A great idea, especially for longer backpacking trips or gap years, is to invest in a special travel money debit card from leading brands such as Caxton, STA Travel and the Post Office. These allow a traveller to carry a large amount of money around the world with them electronically and with the global number of ATMs that will receive these cards increasing accessing your cash can be pretty easy.

With a money card, or cash passport as they are sometimes known, you will not have to risk taking a UK debit card or stacks of cash. Also a lot of these cards have facilities online to check your balance and top up your funds. Whilst the cards have their benefits, there are downsides. Using my CaxtonFX card across Peru, Bolivia and Chile this summer I found that with each withdrawal not only does Caxton take a small transaction fee but they exchange GBP into the local currency at a below average rate, so it may be best to avoid taking cash out frequently.

Stow away some cash

Where ever you are headed it is vital that you keep a close eye on your money and minimise the chances of losing or having it stolen. A money pouch might become one of your best pre-trip investments and, while it might not be particularly fashionable, it can hold your cash, cards, passport and other vital documents close to your body and away from pesky pickpockets. If you’re travelling with lots of cash sometimes it is best not to keep it all in one place, so try to hide it in secure locations about your person and luggage. A spare tenner in the bottom of your shoe, some extra pounds hidden in your suitcase or even creating a sewn compartment inside a shirt to hide a few notes are all potential options.

Be beach-wise

The main attraction for many holidays is of course the beach, but should you risk taking your money with you? The best solution for the beach is to purchase a waterproof money pouch, with plastic or tin models available that can hang around your neck or securely attached to your swimwear. Notes, keys and even cameras can be kept secure on your person and not at risk of water damage, which is invariably better than chancing your luck by leaving all your valuables on the shore.

Receipts: Don’t chuck ‘em!

If you have gone for the card option and are planning to withdraw from many global ATMs do not throw away the transaction receipts! As a serial receipt-chucker I chose not to keep any record of the withdrawals I made when in South America and this mistake hit me hard when my card became the victim of fraud and money started to drain out of my account.

Without the ATM receipts I was unable to prove that certain transactions were not made by me and that money has been lost for good. Heed my warning! Receipts aren’t heavy and won’t take up a lot of space, just shove them in your suitcase at the end of every day and should the worst happen you will have some evidence that should assist your case.

Money can’t buy you happiness, they say, and while there are undoubtedly more important things in life don’t let a moment’s carelessness ruin your summer getaway.

Follow this advice and hopefully you should enjoy a stress-free relaxing summer break, leaving the money worries for when you get back to university!

What do you think? What have your experiences been with money abroad? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.