09 July 2015

Top tips for travelling safely abroad

It pays to be prepared before you head off on your holidays. In our recent holiday advice article, we gave you a checklist of important things to do before you pack your bags and head off on your travels.

Now, with holiday season here, we’ve got advice for keeping yourself safe once you set off. Follow these guidelines and you’ll cut the chances of money worries or any other problems getting in the way of you having a good time.

Share your holiday plans

Make sure you’ve shared details of your flights and where you’ll be staying with 1 or 2 people you trust back home; but avoid telling everyone on Facebook otherwise you’ll potentially be advertising your empty home to all on the social network. 

If you’re travelling on your own, consider checking in regularly at the same time every day with a loved one back home. It’s also a good idea to scan all your important documents, email them to yourself and your contact at home. Last year, 31,134 emergency travel documents were issued to Brits who lost their passport or had it stolen, as stated in the FCO Travel Advice Report. And finally, make a quick note of the serial numbers for your mobile phone, digital camera and other gadgets, and keep the information somewhere safe in case of emergencies.

It’s also important to let your bank know that you’re going abroad. That way we can protect you from fraud and keep your accounts secure, without having to interrupt you when you’re using your bank cards on your travels. If you’re registered with Nationwide Internet Banking, you can let us know your plans online in just a few simple steps, without even needing to pick up the phone.

Holiday like a local

An estimated 400,000 travellers are victims of pickpockets somewhere in the world every day. So it’s a good idea to save the Hawaiian shirts and bling for when you’re back home, and try not to advertise the fact that you’re a tourist. 

You could also make a thief’s job much harder by not carrying your wallet in your back pocket. Try a zipped or buttoned pocket at the front, or a money belt instead. And while you’re at it, don’t lug around a purse full of cards. Leave your loyalty cards at home and try to only carry 1 or 2 debit or credit cards with you at most. 

Give yourself some valuable local knowledge by storing the emergency services number for the country in your mobile, and avoid unlicensed taxis when you’re travelling around.

Cut unnecessary costs and save more for spending

Although the cost of making and receiving calls on your mobile in Europe is lower than it was before new EU rules came into place, you could unwittingly run up a big bill if you don’t turn off data roaming first (some smartphones automatically seek out mobile connections and use them to update apps while on the move). So if you’re planning to use your mobile while abroad, it might be worth talking to your operator first to find out if they have any tariffs that you could add onto your existing plan. 

Also consider seeking out special offers for attractions in the area you’re travelling to – sites like moneysavingexpert.com can be useful for this. And don’t forget to check our Simply Rewards scheme to see if we can help you save on your holiday expenses. To check your eligibility for Simply Rewards, take a look at our qualifying criteria, T&Cs apply. Current deals include 15% discount on APH Airport parking and hotels* 15% off Hertz car hire** and up to 50% off short breaks with Park Holidays***.

Be a savvy shopper

Save your haggling for the local bazaars and markets, rather than your financial provider and their bank charges. The UK Cards Association recommends using debit cards for withdrawing money, as the fees and charges are usually less than for credit cards. In fact, if you’re a Nationwide FlexPlus packaged current account customer we won't charge you any commission for overseas cash withdrawals. FlexPlus costs £10 a month. 

Don’t forget, when you’re using your credit card or debit card abroad, choosing the option of paying in local currency rather than sterling may help you to avoid additional charges. If you’re a Nationwide Select Credit Card customer you have the added comfort of knowing that all your overseas credit card purchases made in local currency are commission-free. The Select Credit Card is exclusively available to Nationwide main current account customers. 15.9% APR representative variable. If you’re partial to a little local memorabilia, do beware of any local scams. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a good place to find out whether there are any operating in the area of your holiday destination.

Avoid money woes

Make sure you have noted down the helpline phone number for your debit and credit cards in case they are lost or stolen while you’re abroad. If you have a Nationwide card, here’s a list of the emergency numbers you need. You should also let your bank and card providers know if you’re going away so they can contact you in case of any problems – and don’t forget to set up an automatic payment for when your next credit card bill is due, to avoid incurring any penalties.

Keep healthy

According to the Association of British Insurers, each week, travel insurance helps over 4,300 people who need medical treatment while abroad, so it's good practice to ensure you have cover before stepping on the plane. But should you be unlucky enough to need medical assistance while on holiday, make sure you also have to hand key information any health professionals might require, including the obvious (allergies) but also details of your GP back home. 

And finally, try to use the same judgment about your safety as you would at home. If you wouldn’t consider learning to ride a moped in 30 minutes usually, then it’s perhaps not a good idea to try it when you’re abroad.

Sterling purchases only (balance transfers, cash advances and payment protection insurance premiums are excluded).

††The Select Credit Card is available to main current account customers. To qualify as a main current account customer and be eligible for the Select Credit Card, you must:

1. Hold a FlexOne account and be aged 18 or over, or hold a FlexAccount with a Visa debit card (not cash card or cash card+) and have:

• been paying in £750 (excluding internal transfers) a month for the last three months, or

• Completed an Account Switch to us (from a non-Nationwide account) using our Current Account Switch Team, or have done so in the last 4 months; or

2. Hold a FlexDirect or FlexPlus account

For cashback, you must maintain a main current account relationship with us. This means you must either credit at least £750 (excluding internal transfers) into your Nationwide FlexAccount or FlexOne account every month or hold any other current account (excluding Cash Card Account) with us.

Credit cards are only available to those aged 18 and over and depend on your circumstances.

*This offer expires 31 December 2015

**This offer expires 31 December 2015

***This offer expires 30 September 2015

Most popular

You may also be interested in...

Our helpful guides

We've created a range of helpful guides to help you make better financial decisions regardless of your circumstances. Find out more about owning property, growing wealth and planning for life events.

Our products

Whether you are after a current account, a savings account or even looking for a mortgage, Nationwide has a range of great products that could help you, no matter the situation.