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How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off While Traveling

If you and your family are planning a holiday trip this season, you need to know these 5 important tips for making sure your vacation doesn't turn into a nightmare. Guest author Daniel Abrahams explains how to protect yourself while traveling abroad.

By
QDT Editor
November 21, 2013

You’ve booked the flights, you can’t stop admiring the online photos of your holiday accommodation and the kids are asking how many more sleeps they have until their holiday begins.  It can all get just a little bit exciting. 

But don’t let excitement blur your planning skills or cause you to leave certain travel necessities until the very last minute. On the day your holiday begins you’ll want to be prepared, confident and ready so that you don’t waste a moment of your vacation worrying about travel essentials such as exchanging currency or arranging travel insurance.

Here are 5 tips to help you have a relaxing, stress-free vacation:

Tip #1: Have a Pre-Holiday Family Meeting

If you have older children who will have their own spending money, it’s a good idea to get them involved in keeping their cash safe and secure. You’re sure to have some real world stories about how you parted with all of your holiday cash for a pair of “real” Gucci sunglasses or a Rolex watch sold to you on the beach.  If you are going to give them a little freedom while overseas, make sure they are aware of pickpockets and ensure they have somewhere secure to keep their cash.

See also: 7 Must-Haves for Traveling with Kids

 

Tip #2: Plan Your Currency Exchange in Advance

You weren’t going to change up your money at the airport, were you?  Did you know that the airport bureaus are actually some of the worst places you can exchange currency?  And you can forget your bank too.  Banks can often be up to 5% more expensive than online foreign exchange brokers and that could cost you a pretty penny if you are exchanging a large amount of cash. Mystery shop research from MyTravelMoney shows that airport bureaus can add up to a 10% markup to the actual exchange rate. Essentially, this means you are paying around $50 on every $500 you exchange.

In the U.S., buying currency online from suppliers such as Travelex typically works out cheapest. Check which states they can allow you to pre-order, their currency authorization licenses and that they are a BBB accredited business. In the UK, you are able to pre-book online and have currency delivered to your front door via Royal Mail special delivery. Currency is insured and if you are not at home, you can pick up from your local depot. Check the providers are authorized and regulated by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority).

Whether you buy at the airport or online, a golden rule to distinguish between a good or bad deal is to benchmark against the “real rate of exchange.” To do this, use a currency converter such as MyCurrencyTransfer Converter. This tool lets you look at the mid-market rate and allows you to add a predefined markup, which will reflect the more realistic tourist exchange rate. You’ll never get the mid-market rate (that’s why these companies are in business) but your goal is to get as close to it as possible.

Tip #3: Research the Risks at Your Destination

Your travel agent might not tell you that your destination is running alive with pickpockets or that credit card cloning is rife in the center of town. Disclosing that kind of information does not sell holidays so it’s a good idea to do your own research.  Check out objective sites such as lonelyplanet.com to find out more about crime rates and how to keep yourself and your money safe while traveling. 

See also: 9 Tech Savvy Travel Tips

 

Tip #4: Get the Right Travel Insurance for Your Entire Stay

Make sure you arrange travel insurance that covers you from the moment you close your front door to the moment you arrive back home.  Surprisingly, a huge percentage of people still travel without adequate travel insurance (or any insurance at all) and don’t realize the huge risk they are taking.

See also: How to Travel With Electronics

 

Without travel insurance you may not be entitled to the necessary medical care you may need, or have access to legal advice while abroad, or have any cover for your personal belongings or cash. Of course, your plan is to enjoy a relaxing holiday, but you also need to be prepared for when that camera drops into the swimming pool or the wallet that’s left on the bus! 

Tip #5: Choose a Safe Way to Carry Your Money

Thieves are opportunists so don’t give them the opportunity to ruin your holiday. It’s not just pickpockets you need to worry about.  Thieves have been known to cut handbags off at the handle with scissors and they also operate in gangs at the airport targeting suitcases and any other items you may put down for a few moments.

Keep your wits about you and choose a safe and secure place to keep your money.  A money holder that goes under your clothes is a good idea. Not only is it discreet but it is also harder for thieves to get a hold of.  Don’t take out more money each day that you are going to realistically need. 

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Daniel Abrahams is a personal finance blogger, startup mentor at ABC Startup and Co-Founder at MyCurrencyTransfer.com and MyTravelMoney.co.uk an OPP award winning foreign exchange comparison brand.

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