By now, you may have read my post about my travelling addiction and how it has put me under great financial strain several times, including right now.
After shaking your finger at the computer screen and “tsk tsking”, you may not think I’m worthy enough to give out personal finance advice when travelling overseas.
Well, this is my blog and I’ve done a bit of travelling, so I’m going to give some advice anyway. Take it or leave it. 😛
If you are curious, here is a list of countries I’ve been to so far (in no particular order):
- the Philippines
- Czech Republic
- Costa Rica
Greece will be the
16th 17th country I visit. Within the next 10 years, my goal is to have visited a total of 25 countries. Why 25? No reason. Just seems like a good number. 🙂
The following is a random list of personal finance tidbits I have found useful when travelling abroad:
- First off, know what the local currency of your country is. My partner assumed that we would be taking U.S. dollars to Greece. He didn’t know that Greece is part of the European Union and uses Euros (Random fact: Greece’s original currency was drachmas). I think as a sign of courtesy and respect and so that the merchant doesn’t have to go through the hassle of trying to exchange foreign currency (smaller establishments will most likely only accept cash, in local currency form,) it is wise to use the local currency.
- Not all European countries are part of the European Union. For instance, Austria uses Euros, whereas Switzerland uses their own currency, Francs.
- Withdraw only a small amount of the local currency before you go. This is for immediate expenses and I feel like it gives me a small sense of security and peace of mind. Depending on the currency, your bank may have to order it ahead of time. Not only that, the exchange rate they give you
isn’tmay not always be very good. They will also charge you a fee. I have done most of my money exchanges at the airport. It helps to know what the exchange rate is before you go, to ensure you are getting a decent price for your currency.
- If you are planning on using your credit cards while travelling (which I suggest you do for much larger purchases), add a travel advisory note so that the companies will be aware of the foreign transactions being made. The last thing you want is for them to freeze your cards and your ability to withdraw money because they thought all the foreign transactions were suspicious.
- Fees flying out the wazoo. Regardless of what type of payment you use, you will be dinged with fees while travelling overseas. Your bank will most likely charge you a transaction fee every time you use your credit card, so keep that in mind when making purchases.
- I’m a pay with plastic kind of gal. Although dangerous when put in the wrong hands, I like being able to keep track of my expenses. However, when travelling overseas, I always carry cash with me. When it comes to tipping, clearly cash is king.
- When it comes to your cash and travelling, NEVER EVER keep all of it in one spot. Spread the love around. Know the amounts in each of your stashes. I keep some on my person in a travel pouch during the day and the rest in the hotel room’s safe or my suitcase. When I was backpacking in Europe, some of the hostels didn’t have safes, so I had my own padlock and locked up the money in my locker.
- While out exploring, be wary of pickpocketers. You don’t necessarily have to clutch your purse to your chest, but keep one hand firmly on your bag, especially in crowded areas, such as the metro. People can jostle you, bump into you and distract you before you realize they’ve ran off with your wallet. I’ve read on websites that people have created “fake wallets” to fool thieves. I may actually look into this.
- Don’t be afraid to haggle in the local markets and price match between vendors. Use that time on the plane to learn some of the language such as “How much?” or “Too Expensive.”
- When ordering water at a restaurant, always specify tap water or you may end up getting a bottle of sparkling water and having to pay for it.
Do you have any other money tips to add when travelling overseas?