Taking your wallet on vacation? Here’s how to keep it safe


Losing your wallet or having it stolen is a nuisance anytime, but when you’re on vacation, it can ruin the hope of a good trip, according to Chris McGoey, a security consultant who has traveled to more than 110 countries.

“People carry critical personal information like credit cards and a driver’s license in their wallet, and a lost or stolen one is a bigger headache and harder to recover from when you’re traveling,” he said.

But there are ways to minimize the damage from that missing wallet and keep your trip from going awry, and McGoey shared advice on how to do just that.

Know Your Wallet’s Contents

You know your wallet is important, but do you know what’s in it? In his training seminars, McGoey said that he has his attendees look inside their wallets and he finds that most are surprised at what they unearth.

“People have insurance cards, credit cards and other pieces of personal information they forgot they had, but if you don’t know what’s in your wallet, you can’t report it missing,” he said.

He suggests keeping an inventory of your wallet’s contents in your email or on an encrypted cloud server such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

Carry Only Essentials

Most people carry too many credit and ATM cards in their wallet, McGoey said, advising that you travel with only the ones you rely on daily. Also, don’t carry both your Social Security card and driver’s license in your wallet because one piece of identification is generally sufficient when you’re traveling.

“The more personal information you lose, the more work you have to do to get replacements,” he said.

Have Backups of Documents

Make copies of all the documents in your wallet, and leave these copies with a family member or trusted neighbor back at home. And include a checklist of phone numbers to call in case your wallet goes missing, such as the numbers of your bank and credit card company. You can also scan and email these copies to yourself or store them on a cloud server.

These backups and numbers allow you to quickly report your cards missing. Also, if you’re flying, you won’t be left without the identification you need to get back home.

In addition, McGoey suggested having a copy of a backup credit card on your email or cloud server and leaving the actual card at home with someone you trust — if you need a replacement right away, that person can send you the card overnight.

Rely on the U.S. Embassy

If you’re traveling internationally and end up losing your wallet but have no backups of your credit cards and license, the local U.S. Embassy is your best resource to get your life back in order.

“The embassy can help you get temporary identification and also loan you cash,” McGoey said.

Your tour company, if you used one, may also be able to assist.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

Two hours, 22 stops: Playing tourist in Washington on a double-decker sightseeing bus

Up until this summer, I'd never taken a Big Bus sightseeing tour. I'm a thrifty traveler, and the idea of paying $40 or more to sit next to what I imagined would be a bunch of boisterous tour-group types never appealed to me. But I live in a city that happens to be a major tourist attraction, so the big, red, double-deckers are ubiquitous, even when...
How far your money goes on the low-cost airlines

Perhaps you’ve been intrigued by the affordable (and in some cases downright cheap) fares being dangled lately by low-cost, long-haul carriers like Norwegian, Level and XL Airways. Fleeting introductory fares for a handful of cities are one thing, but everyday fares in and out of major hubs are another.  Let’s take a look at what you...
What to read before you hit Europe’s museums

As anyone who has been to the Louvre in Paris or the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid knows, these institutions can have an outsize effect on a city. Travelers are drawn by the art, of course, but also by the architecture and historical relics within its walls. Below, one book looks at how old master paintings have influenced the development of museums...
Talk travel: Is a 'risky connection' worth the risk?

The Washington Post's travel writers and editors recently discussed stories, questions, gripes and more. Here are edited excerpts:  Q: I was reviewing an airline reservation that I made more than a month ago and realize my connecting flight was listed as a risky connection. I am assuming this means there is a great chance of me missing my connecting...
Travel gear: rooftop tent for your car for convenience camping
Travel gear: rooftop tent for your car for convenience camping

Who knew you could enjoy a camping experience and still get a penthouse view? The Yakima SkyRise 3 Rooftop Tent delivers on its name, with a tent that is pitched atop your car via an ingenious design that uses your vehicle’s roof rack to support itself and the happy campers. Yakama has used its decades of experience in manufacturing racks to...
More Stories