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The Spirit of the RiverWards: Planning a Vacation this Summer? Ways to Protect Your Money and Keep Your Assets Safe While Traveling

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July 24, 2013

By Max Pulcini

Imagine this: You spend all year working hard at your job and finally find an opportunity to get away for a week in the summer. A well deserved, good ol’ vacation—time to let loose and soak up some sun. So you book an extravagant retreat to a far away island at a resort that promises to be "a little slice of paradise." Plane tickets, check. Hotel reservations, check. Luggage packed, check. You finally land and get your getaway under way when disaster strikes. As you are returning to your hotel from a day of sunbathing, sightseeing and partying, a thief strikes from the shadows, robbing you of everything you have, turning your ideal time of care-free fun into a stress induced headache.

Precautions can be made so that this doesn’t have to be you.

"There are a lot of people who get duped on vacation, and you read stories on the news and hear about these situations and scenarios. It’s amazing how many people this happens to every year," said Dominique Jenkins, Financial Educator at Philadelphia Federal Credit Union.

Jenkins has come up with a simple list of effective ways to protect your money and keep your assets safe while traveling that only take a few minutes to put into action.

"It’s really important to take these tips into consideration because it’s prime season for these kind of problems," Jenkins said. "It’s important to make sure you’re educated before going away on vacation."

First off, Jenkins suggests that travelers divvy up their money. This means keeping your cash in a few different places to ensure that a thief won’t be able to take everything you have on you. "This is extremely important so that if you do get robbed not all of your money is in one spot," said Jenkins.

She suggests that travelers consider keeping some of their cash and credit cards in their wallets while keeping an additional stash of bills and cards under the sole of their shoe or in an on-body storage accessory.

The mention of on-body storage accessory brings Jenkins to her next tip—avoiding the use of "fanny packs." Fanny packs are a popular option for many travelers because they gently rest around your waist and rarely get in the way. However, they also make you a target to bag-snatchers and thieves as they highlight your tourist status and are easy to cut off without you even slightly noticing. Jenkins suggests the use of messenger bags instead because they go over your body and are harder for people to get their hands into. Not to mention that messenger bags are also 100% more hip than fanny packs—it’s not 1999 any more, fanny packs are a total fashion faux pas.

Next up on Jenkins’ list is the use of a dummy wallet. If you are visiting a place that is known as a tourist hub or hotspot, then you should know that muggers are there waiting to prey on you and specifically target those visitors with their guards down. Jenkins suggests purchasing an inexpensive wallet and filling it up with a few single dollar bills and old gift cards to act as false-credit cards. In the event that you are actually mugged or held up, you can simply hand over the dummy wallet and, more often than not, the assailant will leave and go about their business.

As far as an organizational tip, Jenkins suggests making money preparation part of your morning routine while traveling. She recommends making sure that you have a diverse array of large and small bills on you and that you only carry the amount that you will need for that day.

"You definitely want to split your money up, especially if you go to a foreign country where you’re not familiar with the currency, so that vendors can’t take advantage of you by not giving you proper change," Jenkins said.

In addition to preparing your cash, she also advises that you remove extraneous or identifying information from your wallet like checks, gym memberships and library cards. You usually don’t need these types of things on you while on vacation and they would be a hassle to replace if they were indeed lost or stolen.

The next tip involves the use of hotel safes. Yeah, you know that one that you see but never use? Jenkins is a firm believer in taking advantage of that service and protecting your valuables like extra cash, credits cards, passports or financial information.

"If you want your room to be cleaned, you might have a maid that can get to any of your belongings. If people are going to be coming into the room, you want to make sure that your valuables are completely safe," Jenkins said.

Last but certainly not least is a tip for international travelers—Jenkins urges those of you crossing borders this summer to keep your passport safe as well as keeping copies of the document at home and in your hotel safe.

"If you lose your passport or have it stolen, you can take a copy of it to the U.S. embassy and get home safe," Jenkins said.

Jenkins believes that if you follow these simple guidelines and suggestions, it can potentially save your next vacation from tragedy. She believes that educating people on these matters goes a long way in preventing tourist-based crime and protecting members of our community while having fun on your travels.

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