It is not wise to carry large amounts of cash. You should take most of your money in traveler’s checks and remember to record the serial number, denomination and the date and location of the issuing bank or agency. Keep this information in a safe and separate place so, if you lose your traveler’s checks, you can quickly get replacements.
Some credit cards can be used worldwide, even for cash advances. Keep track of your credit card purchases so that you do not exceed your limit. Travelers have been arrested overseas for mistakenly exceeding their credit limit! Leave all unnecessary credit cards at home. Record the numbers of the credit cards that you do bring, and keep the list separately from the cards.
You should immediately report the loss or theft of your credit cards or traveler’s checks to the credit card companies and to the local police. If you plan to stay in one place for some time, you might consider opening an account for check cashing and other transactions at a U.S. bank that has an overseas affiliate. U.S. embassies and consulatescannot cash checks for you.
Before leaving on your trip, you may wish to check with your bank to see if the country or countries that you plan to visit have Automated Teller Machine (ATM) service. The bank should be able to tell you if you can use your ATM card during your trip abroad.
Prepare for Emergency Funds
It is a good idea to keep the telephone number for your bank in the United States with you, in case you run out of cash and need to transfer money. In some countries, major banks and certain travel agencies can help arrange a transfer of funds from your account to a foreign bank. If you do not have a bank account from which you can obtain emergency funds, you should make arrangements in advance with a relative or friend to send you emergency funds should it become necessary. If you find yourself destitute, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for assistance in arranging a money wire transfer from a relative or friend in the United States.
Before departing, you may wish to purchase small amounts of foreign currency to use for buses, taxis, phones, or tips when you first arrive. Foreign exchange facilities at airports may be closed when your flight arrives. You can purchase foreign currency at some U.S. banks, at foreign exchange firms, at foreign exchange windows, or even at vending machines in many international airports in the United States.
Some countries regulate the amount of local currency that you can bring into or take out of the country; others require that you exchange a minimum amount of currency. For currency regulations, check with a bank, a foreign exchange firm, your travel agent, or the embassy or consulate of the countries that you plan to visit.
If you leave or enter the United States with more than $10,000 in monetary instruments of any kind, you must file a report, Customs Form 4790, with U.S. Customs at the time. Failure to comply can result in civil and criminal proceedings.
Valuables — Do Not Bring Them!
Do not bring anything on your trip that you would hate to lose, such as expensive jewelry, family photographs, or objects of sentimental value. If you bring jewelry, wear it discreetly to help prevent snatch-and-run robbery.
The above information is excerpted from the Consular Affairs Publications.