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How To Keep Cash And Bank Cards Safe When Travelling!

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‘Oh my god, where’s my purse?!’

Luckily in all my years of travel, I haven’t had this thought many times but when I finally did have it in Malaysia a few months ago and upon the realisation that I did indeed no longer have my purse I was shocked! I very rarely lose anything but I also hadn’t been in an obvious situation that day where my purse could have been stolen. Luckily I didn’t have to panic!

It wasn’t the end of the world and within one hour I had blocked my bank card and got more cash out.

I didn’t have to make panic calls home to my mum. I didn’t have to ask a fellow traveller to borrow cash from them, and most of all I was in no danger as a solo traveller with no money in a foreign country.

I keep my bank cards and my money in separate bags and purses when I travel so that if I was to lose or have my purse stolen I would still have another bank card to use and the bulk of my cash wouldn’t be lost/taken (unless all of my bags were lost/stolen).

My method paid off because as I said, I wasn’t stranded on my own with no access to money when I did lose my purse in Malaysia!

Thankfully my purse had just fallen out of my bag and because I had my blog business card it in with my Instagram account the person who found it handed it into the tourist police and messaged me on Instagram to let me know (so lucky and so nice I know). The cash had gone but there wasn’t much cash in there anyway and most importantly my bank card was still in there.

Keeping Cash and Bank Cards Safe When Travelling

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog starling bank card for travel
Keep Reading for how to keep your cash and bank cards safe when travelling!

So this is how I look after my money and bank cards when travelling abroad, especially on long backpacking trips. And how I manage my money when travelling so that if the situation that happened happens it means I do not need to panic!

Having travelled for a few years and met many other travellers I’ve seen people look after and manage their money when travelling in different ways and some ways which I think are so unsafe and really stupid aka- carrying all cash, bank cards & passport on them at all times as they think it’s safer on them.. in my opinion, it’s not so let me tell you what I do so you can stay safe and stress-free too!

Purses & Cash

Firstly I have 2 purses– one purse which stays with me day to day in my canvas bag or the backpack I’m using to explore with (purse 1 let’s call it), and another that stays in my travel day pack with my passport and other valuables in the room (purse 2).

When I get cash out of an ATM when I travel I never carry all the cash on me. The best way to carry cash when travelling is not to have a lot on you in my opinion. Once I’ve been to the ATM I’ll go back to my room and put the majority of the cash in purse 2. I only carry a small amount of cash in purse 1 each day and top it up in the morning before I head out.

I do this for 2 reasons 1 – for safety. If I had had all of my cash in purse 1 when I lost it in Malaysia I could / would have lost a lot of cash! Whereas when it’s in purse 2 it’s safe in my room or in a locker for the majority of the time unless I’m travelling between places.

2 – It’s actually a really good budgeting strategy! Usually, I’ll know how much cash I’ll need for that day, I tend to take a bit extra just in case but don’t take too much because if I take more I’ll be more likely to spend it and I can’t spend cash I don’t have right!? This is a great tip if you are travelling on a budget too!

So this part is easy! The best way to keep your money safe when travelling is not to have lots of cash on you!

Bank Cards

Recently I’ve been travelling with multiple bank cards:

1 – A Credit Card which stays in purse 2.

I rarely use my Credit Card when I travel. I use it to book flights and higher purchase items but not day to day, therefore it stays safely in purse 2!

2 – A Debit Card which stays in purse 2.

This is a standard Debit Card. These are great at home but these days they’re not the best bank card to use when travelling. I rarely use this card because I’d rather use a prepaid travel card (more on that below), however, it is good to have more than one or two bank cards when travelling in case of theft or lose or banks not accepting certain cards. So I carry this in purse 2 safely tucked away too.

3 – A few Online Banking Cards

If you’re British you may be familiar with Starling Bank, Monzo Bank and Revolut.

if not, they essentially  ‘modern-day online banks and bank cards’. They are not purposely designed for travel but they act as good travel-friendly bank cards

To use the cards you load the card up from your bank account like a prepaid travel card via the app. However, you can also use them as your normal bank and get your wages etc paid into them.

I think a Starling Bankcard is the best card for travel for multiple reasons, mainly because of their ‘no fees overseas’ policy which means I can use contactless and pay by card wherever I am in the world with no extra fee and I can withdraw an unlimited amount of money each month from an ATM with no fee from Starling.

I really recommend getting a Starling Bank card for travel if you are a UK resident, you can order one by clicking this link!

I use my Starling card as my main bank card when I travel. I also have a Monzo card and Revolut as backups!

Here’s my full YouTube video review of Starling Bank and why I love their card for travel!

I’d say that you should have at least 3 cards– a credit card to book flights, a debit card and an online banking card. Like I said sometimes ATM’s can be funny especially in lesser developed Countries and having a mix of Mastercard and Visa cards on you is best if an ATM won’t accept one.

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog cash and bank card safety when travelling

What To Do with your Money and Cards on Travel Days

I know what you’re thinking, this sounds good day-to-day when you have a hostel or hotel as a base to keep purse 2 in safely with all your cash, cards and passport but what about on travel days when you have both purses and everything on you! 

There’s no way around this, whether it’s travelling to or from your main destination, or travelling around and between Countries, there are plenty of times you will have ALL your valuables on you and perhaps feel quite vulnerable.

Here are my tips to keep your money and bank cards safe on travel days:

Firstly never put any valuables including your passport, money, bank cards in your ‘big’ bag. Whether that’s a backpack or a suitcase. If you’re taking buses or trains depending on where you travel people could get in them and even when flying they could get lost or someone could go through them.

If you’re thinking of how to hide cash when travelling I’d not recommend stuffing it in places you don’t think people will find because in most cases the people that look know exactly what they’re doing!

Instead, keep everything on you in your travel day pack/handbag and basically don’t lose sight of it.

My travel day pack stays on my back when in airports and stays in my sight when on trains and buses. If I get off a bus for a toilet stop I’ll take it with me just in case. Of course, things can still fall out and this could be stolen but I’ve never had that happen or even been close. You just have to be extra vigilant and careful to avoid this.

I have kept my money safe when travelling like this for years and luckily never lost or had my purse stolen. When it happened in Malaysia as I said I didn’t panic and even if I hadn’t of got my purse and card back, I would have carried on with my travels ok and had access to money which is the most important thing!

I realised that what I have been doing is definitely the best way so I hope that you have got some ideas from this post on ways you can protect your money and bank cards when travelling from theft or lose!

If you’d rather watch a video. I spoke about it on my YouTube channel here!


Wednesday 10th of July 2019

Great tips, Ellie!

On travel days, I like hiding my cash and cards in a secret pocket I had sewn into my pants, or in random containers like pill bottles.

For me, the key is spreading everything out in different places (and trying not to forget where you put everything) to minimize the risk :-)


Wednesday 10th of July 2019

That’s a great idea but yes, we must remember where we hide it too! :)