It’s your worst nightmare. You are on holiday having a fantastic time when you suddenly realise you don’t have access to money.
Perhaps you were robbed, or maybe you didn’t budget effectively. Between 2014-2015, the British consulate helped over 17,000 Brits abroad due to various problems. When you are in a foreign land, you are more vulnerable than you think.
It happened to me. I was in Marrakech with barely any cash, a few hundred pounds in travellers cheques for safety purposes, a current account card with the overdraft maxed out and a credit card with a PIN number I couldn’t remember. I tried desperately in every bank to change my travellers cheques to no avail and had nothing to use to eat and get back to the airport. It is a nightmare scenario to find yourself in.
So, what can be done when you find yourself overseas without access to money?
Preparation is key.
I like to think of myself as a savvy traveller and take many variations of access to money, however in the situation above, I hadn’t taken enough. I cannot stress the importance of taking a wide range of travel tools with you: always have a couple of credit cards as back up (bonus points if you take ones that are free to use overseas like the Halifax Clarity or the Nationwide Select). Take a pre-paid travel card too. This one from the Post Office gets couriered out to you within 48 hours if you lose it, which is an added bonus. Take a bit of cash and keep some in the safe in your room so it’s secure. I cannot stress this enough. I’ve had money taken out of my purse, which I’d left in the room while sunbathing, whilst staying in a five star resort in Thailand. (Luckily the hotel staff rectified this by giving us a night’s stay for free.) Finally, always keep a bit of your money and one of your cards separate so that if you lose, or have your wallet stolen, you have something on one side to use.
Money transfer from family/friends.
If you literally don’t have a penny to your name and need cash urgently, what about a money transfer from family or friends? Using Western Union or Moneygram will get you the funds you need within ten minutes meaning you can get home safely. Your holiday rep or the British consulate can help if you have no idea where to start with money transfers.
Fast cash loan
Perhaps your friends and family aren’t made of money, in which case it would be impossible to ask them to wire it across for you. In this circumstance, googling ‘quick loans‘ and finding a provider who can get some cash into your bank to get you home could be appropriate. I’d always suggest paying off in full once you return though to avoid any excess charges.
Tried all of the above and no success? I would recommend contacting your embassy or consulate to arrange repatriation. Your government, in exceptional circumstances, may authorise a loan funding your return home, however upon return your passport will be forfeited until all funds have been paid back. This could work out extremely costly for you, so really is only a last resort.
Luckily for me, I went to the ATM in Marrakech with my back up credit card and my fingers remembered which buttons to press, even if my brain did not. I withdrew the absolute maximum, scared I wouldn’t be able to do it again and learnt a very valuable lesson. It is so important that you plan for every eventuality. Buy comprehensive travel insurance, take back up cards and currency which you can store separately from your main funds and most importantly, only travel when you know you have the funds to back up an emergency.
Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post