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Help! My Credit Card's Gone...


Evelyn Hannon

It's every solo traveller's worst nightmare. What happens if my bank cards or credit cards are stolen? What do I do, who can help and how can I possibly avoid ending up with no money at all? Unfortunately, I've learned that you can't protect yourself completely. You've got to plan for the worst and then try to be as savvy a traveller as possible. Here are a few helpful tips and suggestions from our Journeywoman files. I've started with the one that I love best and that I've used since I began travelling. If you have a favorite "protect-your-money tip, please add it here. We'll share all of them in an upcoming issue.

My favorite money cover-up...

In Notebookmy backpack, I carry a plain school notebook that I've clearly labelled, "My Travel Notes." This is actually the book where I write my findings for future Journeywoman articles, in it I tape business cards that I collect along the way and I also include some personal photos that I share with hosts and sister-travellers. This notebook gets quite dog-earred as I travel and that is a deliberate tactic on my part. I don't want anybody to think it has any value.

Now, this is the best part...

So that I will never be without money, I tape five $10.00 bills and an extra credit card to the inside cover of this notebook. Over it, I staple a copy of my itinerary which protects and hides this stash completely. Nobody ever suspects that there is money there and I sleep easier knowing that I always have a cash backup in case of foul play.
(Source: Evelyn Hannon, Journeywoman Editor)

Help! my cards are gone!

Ms.Sam Bachand is the Royal Bank's Manager of Retail Foreign Exchange Services. Journeywoman asked what she would do if her credit card and bank card were stolen in a small town in Italy at 11 o'clock in the evening.

Sam writes...if I've prepared properly, this theft would only be a terrible inconvenience, not a huge calamity. Here's a few of my know-before-you-go hints....

1) Diversify your money-- take two $100 travellers cheques (for emergencies only), credit cards, bank cards as well as cash (U.S. cash is best because it's recognized in most places).

2) Be prepared! Before you leave home, record (in triplicate) the numbers on your travellers cheques , credit cards and bank cards. The same applies to all the 800 numbers you might need to report a theft. Leave one list with someone at home, one goes into your money belt and one stays in your suitcase.

3) Be creative! Hide your emergency money in strange places-- a vitamin pill bottle with a few pills in it is great. The bottle isn't see-thru and thieves are generally not interested in your Vitamin C.

4) Be very sure to check the restrictions on your credit cards. Did you know that some cards are not replaceable internationally if they're stolen?

5) Ask your bank for an extra client card. If the first is taken, you still have the second one to withdraw cash with.

Traffic CopA journeywoman bonus tip...

When other travellers ask you what you do for a living and you're not sure if they can be trusted, tell them you're a policewoman on holiday. I do it all the time just to be on the safe side.
(Source: Evelyn Hannon, Editor Journeywoman)

Automated bank machines...
do's & taboos of withdrawing cash

  • Check your surroundings -- if the ATM is in a poorly lit or hidden area, use another one.
  • Have your card ready -- don't wait until the last minute to go through your purse to find it.
  • Use your body to hide the transaction so that anyone behind can't see you entering your PIN number.
  • Never leave your receipt behind -- always take it with you for your records.
  • Suspicious about anything? Cancel your transaction and leave immediately!

Beware tourist con games...

In Brazil, bag slicers are common. Your pocket, knapsack or soft-sided suitcase is slit open with a concealed razor, often you don't even feel it, nor suspect the innocent looking child or smiling lady standing quietly beside you. Beware tourist con games!
(Resource: Sandy Huff, Travel Writer, Safety Harbor, Florida)

Losing cards on the plane...

AirplaneThis may sound silly to you but I'm extra careful about my valuables even on the airplane. My credit cards, passport and extra cash are in my moneybelt which is worn next to my body at all times. Think about it -- If you are travelling solo, chances are that this is the first time you've laid eyes on your seatmate. 99% of the time that person has absolutely no evil intention and is worried about losing his/her valuables as well. It is the 1% that I'm worried about ever since a friend of mine lost her wallet on an overnight flight to Italy.
(Source: Evelyn Hannon, Editor, Journeywoman)

My bra is my money belt...

Whether at home or when I'm travelling, I find that padded push-up bras are great for a night out. When I dress up for the evening, I take the pads out of my push-up bra, wrap the money I need for the evening in tissues and put the packets back where the pads originally were. Great solution. Works every time!
(Source: travel tip from Mary in Dublin, Ireland)


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