Protecting valuables

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Gaybutton
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#11 Re: Protecting valuables

Postby Gaybutton » Sun Oct 14, 2018 4:49 am

windwalker wrote:Many farang bring loads of cash to Thailand

Yes, but not a bright idea to keep it in an accessible manner. If someone has a need to travel with "loads of cash," that's what travelers checks are for. If those are lost, stolen, or damaged, they can be replaced. If actual cash is lost, stolen, or damaged it's gone. Not only that, but in Thailand just try to get a bank or exchange booth to accept and exchange cash if it is not new, clean, crisp notes. Good luck.

Traveling with a large amount of actual cash is not a bright idea, especially if you're going to keep it in your room and even more especially if you're going to be bringing strangers to your room along with being negligent about keeping your money and valuables secure. That's a theft waiting to happen.

Again, it's difficult for me to conjure up much sympathy for people who end up being theft victims as a result of their own negligence - and stupidity.

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#12 Re: Protecting valuables

Postby fountainhall » Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:11 am

Gaybutton wrote:If someone has a need to travel with "loads of cash," that's what travelers checks are for . . . Traveling with a large amount of actual cash is not a bright idea, especially if you're going to keep it in your room and even more especially if you're going to be bringing strangers to your room along with being negligent about keeping your money and valuables secure. That's a theft waiting to happen

Having travelled extensively I know that travellers cheques are often of little use. I have certainly never used them for probably 25 years. When visiting countries like Nepal, Bhutan, parts of India and South America I have always taken only cash. Similarly, in Iran last year travellers cheques would have been impossible and credit/debit cards were impossible. It was cash or nothing. There I had to enter the country with enough to cover the balance of the fee to the tour agent, 13 days in the country and all possible emergencies like hospital bills. Even overseas banks can not remit cash in to Iran, thanks to US sanctions. So you are stuck with the cash you have with you. On arrival I was carrying $4,000 and €2,000 all in cash. I assumed - incorrectly - that some might be out to relieve me of that cash. In fact, Iran turned out to be a very safe country in that respect.

So some people have to carry cash. The important point when doing so is to use your brain and think! As GB points out, new notes are always a great idea. Just get them from your bank in advance. Then minimise your risk. I never keep cash in just one place. Even an in-room safe can be cracked open quite easily by those who know how to do it. I have several times tried a money wallet - that thing you put around your middle under your shirt - but gave up on it a long time ago. With more than a few notes, it starts to bulge. If you are overweight with even a smallish tummy bulge, it slips down and sits at the top of your pants. Then it becomes incredibly easy to see and therefore a target for any ne'er do well.

So I split my cash in several ways. On a long trip I will normally have at least a largish case, a wheelie case and a backpack. Travelling between A and B by road, it is split into three and tucked away in the furthest recesses of each. I grant this is not especially secure. But I also am extra vigilant. I always know exactly where my bags are. The only exception is when travelling by air or on any form of transport where even one case will be out of sight. Then it is always all in my backpack which I guard with my life!

In hotels, I then split it. A small amount goes into the in-room safe. Some stays with me in my backpack. A lot is hidden in socks, sneakers, folded amongst papers and guidebooks. Both my cases are locked. I have seen videos of the newer types of middle zip-around case being easily opened and closed with a ballpoint pen without going near the lock. To counter that I spend on the best cases I can that renders this well nigh impossible. These are not cheap but since I travel a lot I look on it as a form of insurance. It is my cash and I need to ensure it is safe. Never once have these cases been opened. But I will usually leave perhaps $150 in a variety of bills quite openly in one of the cases. So if anyone does happen to use a sledgehammer to break it open, they will I hope think that's all, take it and walk away.

Only once have I brought a guy to my room (not in Thailand) and left cash which could be stolen. I was staying in a mid-price chain hotel with cameras everywhere. This guy had not mentioned money. He said he just wanted to have a good time. He was a smallish guy and had brought nothing with him but meeting him the lobby instinct told me there was something odd about him. So I had put everything in the safe but left the equivalent of around US$20 in the back pocket of my jeans. Sure enough, after I had showered, it was gone. We then had a merry little dance. He said he wanted payment. I said he had never mentioned it earlier. But guys always pay, was the reply. Finally I told him there was $20 missing from my jeans. He admitted to taking it but said he wanted more. I had none, I claimed. It will be in your safe, he said and I replied I would not open it. Finally I called security to come to the room. He then left.

I fully realise that a similar confrontation with a heavy-set guy larger then me could have turned nasty. Had that been the case, since we were meeting in the lobby, I would not have let him near the room and merely given him some travel money then and there to disappear. With the reception staff and a security guard on patrol, he would have had no choice.

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#13 Re: Protecting valuables

Postby Gaybutton » Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:31 am

fountainhall wrote:When visiting countries like Nepal, Bhutan

I'll try to remember that next time I'm in Bhutan, but in Thailand there is no problem about travelers checks, at least as long as they're not from some obscure company that Thailand doesn't know about.

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#14 Re: Protecting valuables

Postby fountainhall » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:40 am

Clearly they continue to be accepted in Thailand. I think it's not unreasonable to assume that at least some travellers to Thailand also have Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and perhaps Myanmar on their trips. Want to use Amex travellers cheques in Ho Chi Minh? Good luck! As of 2014 hotels won't touch them and just one bank used to accept them. In Hanoi only two branches of one bank will - but not if they are in US$ denominations. They accept only € and £. Two banks in Laos accept travellers cheques but again don't expect hotels and merchants to do so. Cambodia is slightly better. Myanmar - forget it!

in addition to the cheques themselves, you still need to carry with you the purchase receipt plus a note of the number of each cheque and its value. What if that is stolen as well? Even if your cheques disappear and you still have the basic info, getting new cheques involves a great deal of your holiday time and effort in trying to get replacement cash. Better than having no cash at all, no doubt.

Some comments from the travellerspoint and tripadvisor websites -

I haven't travelled with travellers cheques ever in my life, and everyone I've ever spoken to that does travel with them says it's the last time they will be doing so

Lol trav cheques. Who still uses them?

Travelers Cheques? That's very 1970's/80's.

As fewer and fewer travellers use them in favour of electronic means, the cost of issuing them will continue to rise. I reckon travellers cheques will go the way of the dinosaurs by 2025 if not earlier.

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#15 Re: Protecting valuables

Postby Gaybutton » Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:59 pm

fountainhall wrote:fewer and fewer travellers use them in favour of electronic means

That's right. So why carry a large amount of cash when you can withdraw from any ATM with a credit or debit card? You can even do withdrawals in bank branches with a teller and avoid some of the fees.

To me it makes zero sense to worry about ATM fees when traveling to a foreign country. I'd rather pay the fees instead of risking something happening to cash.

Before living in Thailand, I used to take a second debit card with me in case I lost the other one. That way I could at least withdraw cash before notifying the bank and having to wait for a new card to arrive.

I also learned that before going on the trip, it is best to inform the bank, especially the fraud department, that you're going to be traveling to a foreign country, where you're going, and the dates you will be there. Failing to do that, sometimes banks will freeze the card to make sure it is not being used fraudulently.

Some people worry that if a criminal gets your card information, your entire bank account could be stolen. To avoid that possibility, I had a separate bank account and only kept the amount of money in it that I would need for the trip and use only the card for that account while traveling. That way if some criminal found a way to wipe my account, at least I wouldn't lose everything I had in my "regular" account.

Maybe withdrawing cash from an ATM is more expensive, but that beats losing a large amount of cash to a thief or whatever. You just need to figure in the fees as part of the cost of traveling.

People will do what they want, but the last option I would choose is the risk involved with carrying large amounts of cash.

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#16 Re: Protecting valuables

Postby Trongpai » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:14 pm

These in-room safes are good when you have a "guest" over for the night, but I stopped using them to store valuables when I am leaving the room unattended. I came back one night and found the safe and part of the wall it was attached to gone.

If am in the room I guess I would likely hear the air jack hammer or what ever freed the safe from the wall. Still, a short look at YouTube shows just how easy it is to open most of these room safes.

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#17 Re: Protecting valuables

Postby Gaybutton » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:21 pm

Trongpai wrote:a short look at YouTube shows just how easy it is to open most of these room safes.

Even so, I doubt the typical willing young gent that might be a "guest" in the room would have any clue how to do it.

You know how I protect my valuables when traveling? I leave them at home and don't bring anything other than what is absolutely essential in the first place.

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#18 Re: Protecting valuables

Postby Jun » Sun Oct 14, 2018 5:29 pm

The non-cash valuables I have when traveling are my phone, tablet, camera and passport. The tablet, camera & passport will stay in the safe overnight, possibly also the phone, depending on the company.

I don't bring any jewelry, fancy watches or any of that, as I don't need them and don't own them.

I think the best way to deal with cash spending in Thailand is to have a Thai bank account. Then you can either bring a pile of cash, exchange it and immediately pay into the Thai account, or make a bank transfer. No 150 baht ATM fees and no 2.75% surcharges.

Going to Cambodia etc is more difficult. I use cash for part of the trip, then the smallest possible number of ATM withdrawals.
In Cambodia, the odds on cash disappearing from your room safe are somewhat higher as well.

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#19 Re: Protecting valuables

Postby jimnbkk » Mon Oct 15, 2018 7:20 am

I agree with everything Jun says above. One thing nobody mentions is the new way of stealing information: someone walking up to you with a "scanner" and having all your credit card information imbedded electronically on your cards stolen. Everybody should consider buying wallets with RFID shields. They look like regular wallets, but have a metallic layer that thwarts a thief's ability to read what's in your pocket. And, these wallets aren't particularly expensive either.

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#20 Re: Protecting valuables

Postby Captain Swing » Mon Oct 15, 2018 8:40 am

This thread reminds me of a question that pops up now and then: is it necessary to carry the actual passport around with you, or will a copy suffice? It obviously seems much safer to carry a copy and leave the actual passport in the safe, but sometimes it's said that he police won't accept a copy and insist that foreigners carry the passport itself. Is there a definitive answer?


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