Every Minnesotan loves two things: Minnesota in the summertime, and leaving Minnesota during the winter. Once the cheerful holiday season passes and the long, interminable gloom of January and February sprawls ahead, many of us vacation to places where rum punches are served in hollowed out tropical fruits and parrots rule the skies.


Unfortunately, nothing can sour the vacation experience faster than getting robbed. Your odds of getting robbed depend heavily on which country you will vacation to, of course, but there are no downsides to exercising caution while you’re exploring unfamiliar territory. Follow our tips when you’re abroad to keep your money and other valuables safer!


Favor Credit Over Cash

Cash, once it is stolen, is nearly certainly gone for good. Credit cards offer far greater security, as you can quickly deactivate them in the event they are stolen. You may be surprised to learn that credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere: Visa is accepted in over 200 countries, and Mastercard is accepted in more than 210. It is best to travel with a card that does not have a foreign transaction fee – otherwise you may get stuck spending 1 to 5% extra for your purchases.


Visit ATMs Responsibly

Avoid ATMs that are in secluded places, and do all you can to avoid making cash withdrawals at night. The ATM in your hotel is your best option. Alternatively, ATMs inside banks and other heavily surveilled places offer greater assurance that some criminal won’t treat you like an ATM.


Wear a Money Belt

An expert pickpocket can practice their art in only a second or two. Some pickpockets also make use of curved razor blades to sneakily slice open purses and pockets and relieve them of their contents. A money belt won’t foil a determined robber’s plans, but it will make your cash and valuable documents significantly harder to access unless the criminal exercises brute force.


Carry a Decoy Wallet

Whether you wear a money belt or not, it is always wise to carry a decoy wallet. A pickpocket who steals a decoy will have no idea they missed the real prize. But as tempting as filling your decoy wallet with newspaper clippings might seem, it is advisable to keep a few small bills and deactivated cards inside it. That way a crook won’t instantly realize you’re carrying something better.


Resist the urge to reach for your real wallet while you’re out in public. Pickpockets are on the lookout for that kind of behavior, and won’t even think to go after your dummy wallet once they’ve realized where the real thing is stored.


Carry an Anti-Theft Bag

Many of us don’t carry wallets. If you can resist the urge to take your Dolce & Gabbana purse with you on vacation, you’ll be far safer carrying an anti-theft bag. It won’t look quite as fashionable, but it will feature cut-resistant fabric construction, steel-reinforced straps and lockable zippers. An anti-theft bag won’t eliminate the threat of purse slashers and grabbers, but the sight of one may just prove enough to deter a crook from targeting you.


Carry Small Bills

Suppose you are paying for something in Cabo San Lucas. You’re much less likely to draw the wrong kind of attention to yourself if you pull out a couple of ₱50 bills instead of asking for change for a ₱1,000 bill. In short, when you exchange American currency for a foreign one, always ask for the smallest and second smallest bills!


Keep Up Appearances

Criminals are less likely to target people who seem to have everything together. Their preferred targets appear inconsistent or disorganized. If you want to consult a map while you’re on vacation, don’t unfold some large paper thing – briefly and casually glance at your phone instead. If you do become lost, project confidence while you proceed to a safe place to ask for directions. It is best to avoid walking around while you’re intoxicated. And above all else, be on the lookout for common tourist scams. If a stranger approaches you with some story about a gold ring they just found, politely disregard them.


Protect Your Property Back at Home

Don’t omit to take all due caution to protect the valuables you have left back home as well! Minnesota state law imposes harsher penalties for breaking into an occupied home as opposed to a vacant one – something experienced criminals are well aware of. That’s why it is advisable to make it look like you’re still home while you’re on vacation. 


Avoid making social media posts about your vacation, at least until you have returned home. Clever burglars often browse sites like Instagram for hot leads on unoccupied homes. Keeping a car parked in your driveway helps create the illusion that your home is presently occupied, which may deter a burglar from breaking in. In that vein, you can do the following to make it look like you’re home while you’re away:

  • Ask the post office to hold your mail.
  • Ask a neighbor to take your bins out on trash day.
  • Hire a snow removal surface.
  • Install timers to turn your lights on at night.


Making sound financial decisions begins by partnering with a great local bank. If you live in Central Minnesota, then the Sherburne State Bank team is always available to help you with our wide range of personal banking services. We welcome you to come visit one of our branches in Becker, Monticello or Princeton in person, or contact us today

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