Places You Should Never Keep Your Money When Traveling

What would you do if you found yourself traveling out of town on vacation or for a business trip only to discover all your money had disappeared, along with your debit and/or credit cards? If you're not careful about where you stash your money during your travels, this nightmare scenario (which travel insurance won't cover), could become your reality all too quickly. That's why it's critical to think very carefully about where to keep your money — including cash and credit or debit cards — when you're traveling. 


Whether traveling by land, sea, rail, or air, it's important to avoid storing your funds and payment methods in places where the prying hands of pickpockets and other bad actors can get to them easily. Not sure what those places are? That's okay; we've got you covered. The list below highlights the most at-risk places for a traveler to keep their money.

Where not to keep your money when traveling

Storing your money in a way that puts it at risk for being lost or stolen is a major travel-related money mistake to avoid. If you're in the habit of storing your travel funds in any of the places listed below, it's in your best interest to make another plan before going on your next trip.

  • Checked luggage: This one is obvious, but when traveling, never want to hand over money (or anything of high value, such as electronics) where it's out of your sight. The recommendation is to keep your money close to you, and a checked bag is the opposite.
  • Outer pocket of your backpack: When you're wearing your backpack, it's extremely easy for someone to come up behind you (especially a professional thief), unzip an outer backpack pocket, and snag whatever is inside.
  • Outside compartment of a carry-on: Similarly, putting money in an exterior compartment on your luggage is just as dangerous as storing it in an exterior pocket on a backpack.
  • Pockets of your clothing: Unless your pockets have zippers, putting your travel money and/or payment cards inside of pockets leave them vulnerable to skilled pickpockets as well as to gravity. It's easy for money and cards (including your ID) to fall out of open pockets or hoodie pouches.
  • Hotel room counters or drawers: To keep better track of your money while traveling, avoid leaving your cash or cards out and about on tables or counters or in drawers. Instead, it's better to know exactly where your money is: either with you or, if available, in an in-room safe.

How else to keep your travel money safe

While the above are the worst places to keep your money while traveling, you can take a few more steps to secure your money and cards while away from home. For one, ordinary purses and wallets aren't ideal for travel, especially if you'll be carrying a good bit of money or other valuables. Instead, consider investing in a money belt, a neck wallet, or an anti-theft handbag or backpack to help keep your funds secure.


Secondly, you don't have to keep all your money or payment cards with you at all times. When you go out for the day, take one card and as much cash as you think you might need, then leave the rest of it safely locked in the safe in your hotel room. That way, if you're targeted by a thief while you are out and about, you won't lose everything. Further, it's a good idea to split your money and/or cards up, so if, say, your wallet is stolen (or you accidentally leave it somewhere), you, again, won't lose everything.

If, despite your best efforts, you're targeted by a pickpocket or thief during a trip, report the crime to the local authorities. If the theft involves taking your debit or credit card, immediately notify the card issuer so they can close the card and put a fraud alert on your account.