With COVID-19 restrictions easing and summer in full swing, booking an airline ticket to somewhere fun and far away hasn’t been this irresistible in quite some time. Whether it’s the Caribbean, Mexico or even Europe, which is expected to begin receiving vaccinated American travelers soon, we can expect a lot of people taking vacations and traveling internationally this summer. But nothing can ruin a fun-filled vacation more than having something unexpected happen, like falling victim to a travel scam, losing your cash or belongings or getting lost and finding yourself in an unsafe situation.
With that in mind, we decided to put together a list of our top tips for traveling safely so you can have the stress-free getaway you’ve likely been thinking about since the beginning of quarantine.
Do Your Homework, Especially for International Travel
Being safe on your next vacation starts before you ever leave home with some good old-fashioned research. You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating, knowledge is power, especially when traveling to new or faraway places.
- Research the local customs. Nothing screams “tourist” like not following the local customs. Even something as simple as standing in line the wrong way (we’re looking at you, Great Britain) can send signals that you’re from out of town and therefore a potential lucrative target for a travel scam.
- Get the lay of the land. While you’ll likely do a lot of research to find great restaurants, local attractions and fun things to do on your trip, we’d suggest taking the research one step further: figure out how you’re going to get to these places. The more you can do to prevent getting lost, the less likely you’ll find yourself in an unsafe situation. While you’re at it, spend some time learning where not to go in addition to the places you want to go.
Be Money Smart While Traveling Abroad
The point of most travel scams is to separate you from your money. Fortunately, there are a couple of steps you can take to make sure you keep your money safe, from exchanging dollars to foreign currency at your local bank to steering clear of standalone ATMs in touristy areas.
- Exchange dollars for foreign currency before you leave. We’ve covered this before, but exchanging your dollars for foreign currency at your local bank can help you avoid falling prey to counterfeit currency scams.
- Bring along a credit card to supplement your cash. Thinking of traveling with cash abroad? It’s best to take a two-pronged approach to handling your money while abroad with cash and a credit card. Many credit cards, like those in our core credit card suite, offer rewards like points or cash back for every purchase you make. As these points or cash back accumulates, you can use them to pay for your next trip abroad! Apply for a National Bank of Arizona Credit Card today!
- Be wary of standalone ATMs, especially in touristy areas. Unfortunately, covering your hand while you type in your PIN at a standalone ATM isn’t always enough to keep your finances secure. Enterprising scammers have figured out how to insert devices into ATMs that will steal your card. In addition, some criminals are bold enough to steal your cash as it’s dispensed from the ATM. As with most travel scams, touristy areas are hotspots for these types of crimes.
Don’t Overshare Your Travel Plans
We mentioned above that knowledge is power, but unfortunately, the same is true for potential scammers and criminals. Information about your whereabouts and upcoming plans can be used to separate you from your money or belongings, both at home and abroad.
- Consider a social media hiatus. If you’re constantly sharing updates of your travels on social media, you’re likely doing two things: tipping off people back home that your home is unattended, and letting potential scammers and criminals in the area where you’re travelling know when you’re away from your hotel room (and belongings). Consider a social media hiatus while you’re travelling and post all your fun pics once you return home to avoid this.
- Be wary of new friends. It’s unfortunate, but one of the ways in which scammers can gain an advantage over you is by befriending you and gaining your trust. Though making new friends while you travel can be one of the most enjoyable parts of your trip, you should be careful about what information you share – the name of your hotel and the next day’s itinerary in the wrong hands could easily lead to trouble.
We’re Here to Help
National Bank of Arizona can help you exchange your currency – both before you leave and after you get back – so you can be sure you’re getting the best rates and genuine currency1. To get started, simply schedule an appointment at any of the following branches, which always have foreign currency on hand.
- Biltmore: 6001 N 24th St, Phoenix, AZ 85016
- Wilmot: 335 N Wilmot Rd, Tucson, AZ 85711
- Cornerstone: 9878 W Camelback Rd, Glendale, AZ 85305
- Kingman: 3825 Stockton Hill Rd, Kingman, AZ 86409
- Yuma Regional: 538 E 16th St, Yuma, AZ 85365
- Flagstaff: 211 N Leroux St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
(1) Shipping and handling charges may apply, and not all currencies are available immediately at every branch. Some services may not be available to non-customers.