With a little common sense and preparation you can keep your travel documents and money safe to avoid the unpleasantry of petty theft in Peru.
Some pre-departure planning is the first step of keeping your personal belongings safe in Peru. What documents should you bring? Cash, credit or debit card: what’s the best and most secure way to access money in Peru?
Your passport is the most important form of identification you will carry on your trip, so don’t forget to pack it. Double check the expiration date because Peru border officials won’t grant you access into the country unless it’s valid for at least 6 months. Also consider packing another form of photo identification, such as your driver’s license, that you can carry instead of your passport.
In general, traveler’s checks are a thing of the past, but there are several ATM locations in Peru, particularly in traveler hotspots like Cusco, where you can withdraw Peruvian soles or U.S. dollars. Alert your bank to your travel plans and ask what foreign transaction fees apply to your account to determine what credit and debit cards are your best option to use while you travel.
Before you leave make sure you make a copy of your bank cards and travel documents – your passport, other forms of identification, and travel insurance card- and then email a copy of them to yourself. This way you always have access to your passport number, and if your wallet is lost or stolen, you have a telephone number to call to prevent fraudulent charges on your bank account.
Using a little bit of common sense on your trip to Peru can go a long way toward preventing you from being a target of petty theft. The beauty and Inca archaeological gems in Cusco make this region popular among travelers. While these destination highlights are worth gawking over, do so with awareness of your surroundings and personal items. Leaving your backpack unattended and fumbling through your guidebook in a crowded place makes it all to easy for pickpockets to quickly snatch your personal belongings.
Along with exercising caution, the personal belongings you carry and how you decide to carry them is important for maintaining the safety of your travel documents and money.
Tips to keep your personal belongings secure in Peru:
Your passport is the most important form of personal identification you have while you travel. In Peru there are certain times when you need to show your passport, like on a visit to Machu Picchu. But you don’t need to carry this valuable identification on a simple stroll around Cusco’s Plaza de Armas. Ask to store your passport in a locked safe at your hotel and carry a paper copy of it instead.
Watch your passport carefully when it’s being handled by another person. Try to avoid letting someone temporarily hold on to it, opting instead to give them a copy.
In Peru you’ll likely be asked for your passport number when you check-in to a hotel, buy a bus ticket and sign a receipt after making a credit card purchase. Memorizing your passport number prevents you from fumbling around to reach your passport that might already be tucked safely away.
It should go without saying that carrying around a lot of cash is not recommended. In general, only carry as much as you feel you could part with and not ruin your trip. If you’re traveling in a group, consider divvying up your cash when you go on a day excursion. The probability of everyone getting pickpocketed is very slim and this way at least one person in your group will have some monetary reserves.
What you carry your documents and money in can help prevent petty theft. Always walk around with a minimum of valuables, but when you need to haul them all with you, do so in a concealing manner. Store your passport and money in a traveler’s wallet that hangs around your neck, waist, or ankle to keep it hidden under your clothing. Then put a modest amount of cash and a photocopy of your passport in your backpack where it’s easily accessible.
When traveling in Peru, the odds are that your trip will be safe and incident-free. Cusco is a very popular destination and few travelers ever feel threatened on their trip. As with any unfamiliar place you visit, always be aware of your surrounds, take the necessary preparations, and keep your travel documents and money tucked safely away.