How much do I need? Do I have enough? Can I afford it? Many of our fears around travel are associated with money and lack thereof. Before you go, here are a 10 quickie tips to handling your money while abroad.
-First step is to sign up for online banking. Most people under the age of 80 have already done this, but if you’re new to online banking, be sure to sign up and create a user profile. This way you’ll be able to manage your finances electronically as you travel.
-Almost all metropolitan cities have ATMs and it’s generally the best way to access money while abroad, but be sure to pack some cash (both American and local currency) in addition to plastic. ATMs can be hard to find in rural areas or small towns, so plan ahead.
-Check your Foreign Transaction Fees: ATMs are still the best choice for day-to-day funds while overseas. Typically a flat fee of $2 – $5 is charged for each use of your debit/ATM card to withdraw foreign currency. Talk to your bank about their overseas restrictions and foreign transaction fees. Choose a bank that doesn’t have foreign fees. Capital One is an example of a card with no transaction fess. The website Nerdwallet.com helps you compare cards in one simple search.
-Bring various forms of payment options including: debit cards, credit cards and cash. Split up your credit cards into separate bags in case one gets lost, you will have a back up.
-Don’t exchange your money into foreign currency before you leave home. Once you land, get a little bit of cash at an airport ATM. This way,you can pay for porters, taxis, snacks or whatever small travel surprises pop up, without worry. Having local currency always makes me feel empowered, knowing that I’m prepared for emergencies or impromptu candy cravings.
-Avoid commercial exchange counters that are located in train stations and tourist hubs. For the best currency exchange rates, look for banks when you arrive at your destination. Shop around to compare banks and finlod the best rate possible.
-Don’t be a high roller. Have small bills and coins (in local currency) on hand. Bus fare, buying snacks from vendors, bargaining at a market, buying a newspaper…there are a million circumstances when you’re traveling and vendors aren’t able to change large bills. That said, it’s a good idea to keep a crisp $100 US bill hidden in your bag for emergency purposes only. Separate it from your other travel money, so if you’re ever in a bind, you’ll have a little “worst cast scenario” cash stash.
-Check websites like Xe.com for daily currency rates around the world.
-Avoid paying inflated tourist prices by asking trustworthy locals about the going rates. You’ll be less likely to get ripped off if you’re well informed about how much things should cost. Embrace the fact that you will get charged a “tourist price” at least for the first few days as you get your bearings just learn as you go.
-I’m not a moneybelt person. I put moneybelts into the “fanny pack” category and instantly feel like the caricature of a cheesy tourist if wearing one. Regardless of where I’m traveling, I typically rock a purse or backpack and keep it close to me like I would at home (sometimes wearing the backpack on my front like a Ninja Turtle if I’m particularly concerned about pickpockets).
Just a few tips for ya when you’re getting ready to travel overseas with different currencies…safe travels!!
For more tips like these please check out my book Travel Junkie: A Badass Guide to Travel is an insider’s look at how to travel smart and beat the system. In this book, I aim to inspire and empower future travel junkies to travel further, play harder, say “yes” to new experiences and channel their inner badass. I share tried-and-true travel tips and advice for the next generation of adventurers. With chapters on scoring cheap flights, maximizing air miles, using the best travel apps, surviving solo travel and staying safe on the road. Here’s the Amazon link: http://amzn.com/B00SGACEZK