I am maybe the worst financial planner on the planet, and maybe the most casual person in the world when it comes to money while travelling. While on the road, I’ve been broke, robbed, had bank cards eaten by ATMs and just about everything else you can imagine go wrong. However, all these issues have become lessons in how to prepare for a trip and how to make sure you’re aware of things that can go wrong while travelling. I’m now quite confident in saying that I’m about as savvy as they come when it comes to the financial side of things. Thus, I give you my tips for the financial side of travel.
Saving for a trip
Of course, before any trip starts you should have enough cash saved. Saving can be tricky. However, with the goal of a nice comfortable trip ahead it is made much easier. You never really realize how much money you waste until your concerned about saving every bit of money you can. One of the best ways to save is to keep your money out of your hands and in the watchful hands of high yield savings account. A great option is to use fixed rate bonds as a means of saving for your trip. When it comes to savings, set goals. Try to decide on a certain amount you’ll put aside each week and don’t compromise on it and you’ll find yourself travelling before you know it.
Booking your Trip
Booking a trip can be a daunting task. For one, you can feel like you’re dumping a substantial bit of cash on one purchase. Secondly, you’re always worried that as soon as you book you’ll find something cheaper. My advice is simple: book your flight/trip yourself using a reputable website. Then, once you booked your trip never look at the prices ever again. You can’t feel bad about the prices coming down if you don’t know they did. Another bit of a tip, even after you’ve booked don’t stop saving! You always go over budget when travelling so saving extra is a requirement.
The transaction fees while travelling can be astronomical if you’re not careful. Some banks charge as much as $5 per bank card usage well overseas. The best way around that is to find a reputable international bank that has partnership ties with other banks which should reduce your fees significantly. In fact, some banks don’t charge fees at all so if you can find a bank like that, go for it! Moreover, don’t just settle for one bank account. Personally, I travel with bank cards from three different banks and have cards that work in Visa, Maestro and Plus ATMs. An added bonus of multiple cards is if you lose one, you’re not out of luck. Finally, make sure you let your bank knows you’re travelling so they don’t block your account when you need it most.
What to Travel with
For me, I don’t travel with anything except for bank cards and a little foreign currency. Long gone are the days that traveller’s cheques make any sense. American dollars and Euros are pretty much trade-able anywhere in the world so it’s good to keep a back up stash. However, there are bank machines almost everywhere these days and your best bet is to use them. There are certain countries in the world, like Guinea-Bissau for example, that don’t have international bank machines yet. If that’s the case, pack a decent amount of cash and then have western union transfers sent to yourself. Never carry all your money for a trip in cash.
What to do if you Get Robbed?
The truth is that there isn’t really much you can do if you get robbed. Sometimes it just happens. What you can do is protect yourself so you don’t find yourself stranded and without any money. For one, never travel with too much cash that way it’s just plastic being stolen. Secondly, keep your cards in different places. If all 3 of your bank and credit cards are in one place then if you lose your wallet you’ll lose them all. Keep them separated. And of course, if it happens get a hold of your bank immediately.