KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
It was a mixed blessing to discover that our security pouches hadn’t been stolen from our room at the Rivendell (see previous journal entry – A Thief In The Night?). Our passports were in hand, we didn’t have to get new temporary ones issued, at great expense no doubt. However, because of our muddled brains, and a lack of a thorough search, we now were in a situation where all our credit and debit cards were cancelled, and we had to wait for new ones to be issued and sent by courier to us.
Fortunately, because we had already booked our plane tickets from Windhoek to Johannesburg, and had enough cash on hand to pay for expenses to get us there, we were able to spend the time waiting for our cards in the welcoming ‘arms’ of Anne Mauchle, at the Rosebank Lodge in Jo’burg, instead of the guesthouse in Windhoek where we now had so many difficult memories to haunt us.
As a result of all these troubles, we didn’t get out to explore Windhoek. We didn’t have much cash on hand and we wanted to preserve it as much as possible. Fortunately, Chris, Anna and Carmen were on hand every evening to have dinner with us, and before we knew it, it was time to pack up for our departure.
I felt so very badly for the unfortunate receptionist that had been under suspicion by the police, and I wanted to find some way to express my regret other than words of apology and regret. I thought of buying her a present, or giving her a gift of cash, and then I remembered the lovely carved wooden jewellery box that the staff at the hotel in Sorrento had given us as a memento of our 7-week long stay.
I gave it to the receptionist hoping that it might demonstrate our sincere remorse, and of course, we gave her a generous tip as well. Hopefully, she will understand that we were not the ones that pointed the finger at her, it was the policewoman who became suspicious and led her to believe she had discussed it with us before implying that she might be the one who had entered our room during the rainstorm.
For most of our lives, we have been very strict about the day-to-day use of credit cards. During the long period that I was a stay-at-home Mom, I wasn’t able to have a credit card of my own because I had insufficient personal income. Sounds pretty archaic doesn’t it? We had a card in Anil’s name, with a supplementary card for me to use. We had a point to pay the balance in full every month, and indeed, the credit card company has never made any money off us through interest charges.
When we retired and started our travel adventures, we left things as they were until someone tried to use our card fraudulently during our first year on the road. We had only used the card once in India, and that was at an upscale hotel where we thought there was little chance of misuse. The bank cancelled the card and suddenly, we were overseas without any means of booking airline tickets or hotels on-line.
When we returned home, we applied for an additional set of cards to use as ‘back-ups’, in case this happened to us in the future. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I realized that I still didn’t have a back-up card in my own name, and that probably wasn’t a good idea. It also dawned on me that I never had a card in my own name. Boy, had I been living in the dark ages.
It turned out it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, for me to get a credit card. For most of our marriage, I was a stay-at-home-Mom, and didn’t have an income of my own. After retirement, I was again ‘without a steady income’, after working full-time for over ten years. Fortunately, the banker who is looking after our retirement funds while we travelled was able to vouch for me, and I was ‘granted’ a card of my own.
Strange to think that at one time in my life, I was a volunteer at the YWCA, and I’d arranged a lecture series on financial issues for women who were recently widowed. I remember telling them that they should have set things up so that they could manage the family finances on their own, just in case the need ever arose suddenly! It was something that they should advise their daughters and granddaughters to do to avoid the situation they were in.
Credit Card Suggestions For Couples Travelling Together
So now we began to travel with four credit cards. Initially, we would each carry our own personal cards, and then we decided that it might be best if we carry each other’s back-up cards. In short, I carry one of my cards, and one of my husband’s cards. He does the same. If we go out of our hotel to explore a city or tourist site, usually leave one person’s cards in the hotel safe and take the other along for necessary purchases.
Some time later, we ordered one additional card for use in the United States. It’s a card that leaves all transactions in US dollars, and when we pay the bill using funds from our US dollar account, we save the 2.5% currency conversion charge. When we’re on top of things, we buy US funds when the Canadian dollar is high, and that helps us gain a slight advantage when travelling in the US as well.
So, if I’ve explained this properly, you will now understand that we travel with five different credit cards. Seems like a lot to us, but I know that’s a minimum for a lot of people these days. We prefer the security pouches that are worn around the waist, and we always place them under our clothes, with the pouch sitting comfortably in the small of the back. Yes, I know it’s awkward to access the pouch, but we both are usually dressed in trousers and tops/shirts so it’s not too difficult. If I need to get out our passport or a credit card, I pull the pouch around to the front while standing in a place that is not too conspicuous.
Anil is the one to carry the ‘cash for the day’ in a zippered pocket in his pants. He keeps the cash in a small cloth wallet that isn’t easy to slip out of the pocket, should we encounter a particularly clever pickpocket. If the little wallet goes missing, we don’t lose too much cash and the credit cards are safely stowed away in the security pouch.
I hope these tips and ideas help you avoid some of the problems we’ve faced in our long years of travel.