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12 Things to Know When Flying with Cash

12 Things to Know When Flying with Cash

Are you traveling to another country with cash? If yes, there are some important things you need to know before flying with cash. Keep reading this article to learn more.

Ready to travel abroad for a vacation? Great! But one thing everyone needs to take care of is their safety and convenience when flying with cash.

It’s often one of the things that people tend to overlook amongst the excitement. As a result, it can sometimes ruin their vacation or at least prove to be highly inconvenient. So, in this post, we’ll share some of our handy tips for travelers flying with money.

  • Can you fly with cash?
  • If so, how do you stay safe?
  • How can you make your trip convenient when flying with cash?

We’ll discuss all of this in detail with our nifty tips. The most important form of protection while traveling is travel insurance. This can help safeguard you against the theft of valuables and even cash.

To find the best policy to fit your needs, use TravelInsurance.com. This travel insurance marketplace can instantly match you with a travel insurance policy that can cover your valuables like currency while traveling.

Taking a Trip with Cash – Top Tips

flying with cash

Without further ado, let’s talk about how flying with money and having an enjoyable trip is possible:

Know When to Travel with Cash

Holding and Counting Money
Alexander Grey / Unsplash

Flying with cash can either prove convenient or become a nuisance, depending on the country you’re traveling to. So, it’s important to research how people deal with transactions at your destination.

Debit and credit cards are widely accepted in most European and Asian countries. Here, you’re unlikely to face trouble just because you don’t have some cash in the region’s local currency, as most restaurants and hotels will accept credit card payments.

So you don’t necessarily have to bring money with you on a trip to these places. However, you can only go so far without cash, even in some of the most developed cities. Not all transportation types accept cards; certain vendors and shops won’t offer this facility either.

So always keep some cash on hand in foreign currency, even if you plan to rely mostly on cards. Some European countries also accept US dollars as a second currency, so stuffing some green bucks into your wallet before heading out can prove useful.

However, there will be times when flying with cash will be your best bet. Cards and automated transactions are still not widely popular in some Asian countries. Some regions in China, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and Southeast Asian countries have cash-only shops and restaurants.

Also, don’t expect to survive on plastic if you plan to travel to remote places or small towns and villages. For example, even though cards are widely used in Italy, you must use cash if you plan on spending your days in some of its far-off towns and beaches.

Know Airport/Custom Rules

Airport/Custom Rules

Okay, so you’ve decided to travel with some cash. But what is the cash limit to carry on an international flight? Answer: As much as you want. Really.

No one cares how much money you’re bringing into or out of a country – you’ll just have to assure the authorities it’s not related to any criminal activity by filling in a few forms. You don’t have to worry about anything if you’re carrying below $10,000 from the US to elsewhere.

However, the government wants to know if you carry anything above that limit. Hence, you’ll have to fill out some forms at customs to declare that sort of money, and you’re good to go.

Also, when flying with cash internationally, do some research about the policies of your destination. Most European countries want you to declare anything above 10,000 euros at customs. On the other hand, some countries like Ukraine require people to declare every penny they bring into the country – whether it’s a million or a couple of bucks.

When flying with cash domestically, there’s not much you’ll have to stress about. Within the US, you can travel with as much money as you want. If you’re carrying a substantial sum of money, you might have to explain yourself as TSA inspects you and your luggage.

Keep a Moderate Amount of Money

Withdrawing cash from an ATM
Nick Pampoukidis / Unsplash

While you’re planning your vacation, decide how much cash you’ll need. Will you require a lot of it? How much can you rely on cards at your destination? Your answers will, once again, depend on how that country deals with transactions.

However, as a general rule of thumb, it’s always smart to travel with moderate amounts of money. Don’t carry more than you can handle, particularly in countries where you can easily use your cards.

You’ll only put yourself in a situation where you’ll be constantly paranoid about someone stealing such a huge sum of money. On the other hand, ensure you have enough to survive for a couple of days before exchanging your money for foreign currency.

This is because it’s not always convenient to head out to exchange booths or ATMs upon arrival – give yourself a day or two to get your bearings.

But if you’re sure you will require a good amount of cash on your trip, the section below has various tips to help you keep it safe.

See Related: Do Hotels Take Cash?

Know When and Where to Exchange Money

Close-up of two hands of people exchange a 50 euro notes
nadia_if / Shutterstock

When flying with cash, deciding what amount to carry isn’t the only thing to worry about. Should you exchange your money for foreign currency at home? Or do you do that at the destination’s airport?

To answer the first question, we recommend exchanging into foreign currency once you reach your destination. This way, you will most probably get better exchange rates.

currency exchange

For instance, you’ll get a lot in return for exchanging US dollars in Dubai, Malaysia, etc. (they will charge a fee for exchanging the money for you, though).

However, exchanging a small amount at home is wise, so you don’t have to worry about such stuff immediately upon arrival. Also, airports are the worst places for exchanging money as they charge you a huge fee and offer bad rates. Use what you have to pay for a cab ride to your hotel or the nearest exchange booth, which offer better rates.

Inform Your Bank About Your Plans

Man on a call
Hassan OUAJBIR / Unsplash

If you’re planning on using cash throughout your trip, you’ll probably have to use an ATM to withdraw more of it at one point or the other. And when you do that in a foreign country, your account will almost certainly shut down as soon as you make your first transaction.

Today’s anti-fraud systems quickly detect when you’re using your card abroad and shut down your account for your protection. Hence, it’s essential to inform your bank about your plans to avoid going through stressful calls and procedures on your vacation. Even if you’re traveling domestically, it’s a good idea to let the people at your bank know about your trip.

See Related: Hotel Tonight Review

Keep Different Denominations

Taking cash from a wallet
Emil Kalibradov / Unsplash

Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, always keep various small and big bills in your wallet. This is because sometimes it can get tricky to obtain a change for a large bill, especially in a foreign place where you’re not sure about stuff.

Smaller bills can also come in handy when purchasing food at an airport or a souvenir while traveling through the city. Using them will also ensure you’re not left with many leftover bills and coins once you’re done with a trip.

Moreover, having a variety of denominations can help keep your money safe. You can use the small bills in your wallet to purchase stuff without reaching for the big bucks, which are more likely to attract attention.

See Related: Can You Use Data on a Plane?

Safety Tips for Flying with Cash

Flying and traveling with cash on you isn’t always the safest option. Pickpockets are everywhere, with some countries having more street crimes. Here are our tips to help you stay safe:

Use a Money Belt

One age-old way of carrying money in unfamiliar territory is to use a money belt. This is a discreet bag you wrap around your torso, just like you would wear a belt.

Your shirt often goes over this belt, so it’s completely hidden from everyone.

use a money belt

Stuff your big bills and plastic into this little bag, but make sure you don’t use it publicly. If you want to take out some money, try using a washroom or anywhere with fewer people.

Keep a Secondary Wallet

Man hiding his extra wallet
Clay Banks / Unsplash

Using a money belt doesn’t mean you always have to find a safe place to take out cash. Instead, use a secondary wallet to store small bills that are enough to pay for rides, buy street food, and such. This wallet will act like a dummy wallet that you can use freely in public, as it doesn’t hold anything of great value.

However, try buying a minimalistic and low-profile wallet that won’t attract attention – anything too sparkly or bright. You don’t want pickpockets to steal even the dummy wallet, or you’ll be paranoid for the rest of the tour.

Use an Anti-theft Bag

Travelon Anti-Theft Heritage Bag
Anti-theft Bag / Amazon

Consider buying an anti-theft bag if you’re flying with considerable money, cards, and other valuables. These anti-theft bags come with lockable zippers, and hidden compartments and are made with anti-slash materials.

Other bags have hidden zippers at the back so no one can unzip them from behind. No matter what kind of bag you choose, make sure the zippers are secure in one way or the other.

Divide the Money

Divide the Money

Whenever you’re flying with a lot of cash, always split your money and store it in different places instead of keeping it all in one place. The latter might be the more manageable option, but you can never be too safe, even on a flight.

Stash some money in your lockable backpack, some in your wallet, and other bills in your luggage. Our favorite way is to stuff some big bills inside your shoe – try pickpocketing that! This way, even if one or the other thing gets stolen, you’ll still have some money saved in other places.

See Related: Are Scissors Allowed on Planes?

Consider Pickpocket-Proof Clothing

Man wearing a travel short with a suitcase
TheDigitalWay / Pixabay

Arguably, the safest place to store your money is, well, on yourself. Travel-friendly clothing with hidden pockets and secret compartments can offer some sense of security when you’re on the go.

For instance, tons of travel-friendly bras have hidden compartments sewn inside and on the sides. You could also go for pickpocket-proof pants, hoodies, or shorts.

Stay Attentive

Woman Backpacking on a busy street
Steven Lewis / Unsplash

This might be a no-brainer rule, but it’s easy to get distracted when you’re on a flight or somewhere abroad. Don’t fall asleep without tucking your backpack somewhere safe on the plane.

Also, stay attentive and cautious when you’re on the streets with lots of cash on you. There’s no need to become paranoid – make sure you don’t flash your wallets or bucks when you’re in crowds.

See Related: Tips for Flying With Vitamins

Final Thoughts

The takeaway? Flying money across continents isn’t always safe, but it’s possible to take a trip with cash and enjoy your days simultaneously. You need to take care of some things and are good to go.

A bit of research before you leave will be a life-saver and prevent any mishaps and inconveniences. How much cash can you make without the hassles of custom forms? How much do you need? Do you have anti-theft clothing and luggage?

If you find yourself uncomfortable carrying cash once you arrive at your destination, look for Western Union or another money order service. You can empty your pockets safely and rely on cards while traveling.

Of course, to be on the safe side, you should keep your cards with you when you’re traveling abroad. Some places won’t take cash – for example, most rental car agencies require a credit card on file – so having alternative forms of payment is important. Plus, if you lose most of your cash, you can always withdraw more using your debit card or a credit card.

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