No matter where you are traveling, managing your money is crucial.
It’s no secret that with traveling comes the inevitable burden of managing your money in a foreign country. It can be hard to know the appropriate payment form to use for day-to-day purchases or the safest ways to carry and withdraw money. I’ve learned a lot about managing money during my travels- here are some great tips and resources that have helped me and will surely help you manage your money while abroad.
1. Talk to your bank and credit card providers before you go.
Be sure to call your bank and credit card providers to let them know when and where you’ll be traveling. You don’t want to get a few days into your relaxing vacation and find out all your accounts have been frozen and you’re stranded with no money. Avoid the headache and inform your bank and credit card companies prior to your departure.
2. Be knowledgeable about the exchange rate.
This way, you can avoid overspending. You’ll be able to know exactly how much something costs, where you are. It’s easy to get preoccupied with what looks like a great deal in the local currency, but don’t forget to convert it to your native currency because it might not be such a great deal after all. This is especially important when signing long-term contracts such as renting a home or apartment.
3. Withdraw cash from the ATM.
Regardless of what type of currency you need, making a withdraw from an ATM is generally the cheapest and easiest way to get cash abroad. An ATM or debit card with a four-digit PIN number can be used to easily obtain money abroad, however your home bank and/or the bank abroad may charge fees which could quickly add up with frequent withdraws. Normally when I’m withdrawing money abroad, I’ll withdraw a larger amount of money at a time to minimize the amount I’m paying in bank fees. I never keep all of my cash on me at one time in case my wallet gets stolen, and you shouldn’t either. Carry enough cash with you for a day and leave the rest in a secure spot like a hotel safe.
4. Use credit cards for big purchases and cash for most everything else.
Generally, when I’m traveling I use credit cards to pay for any big purchases such as flights, lodging (hotels, hostels, apartments), and transportation (if booking ahead). If I book anything before I leave on my trip including museum and attraction tickets, I’ll use a credit card. When I’m actually traveling, I almost always use local currency. It’s a lot more common to use cash in Europe and Asia than it is in the United States. Some local restaurants and stores in Europe won’t accept credit cards, so it’s imperative to always have cash. I usually carry around a credit card with me just in case, however I almost always use local currency for day-to-day purchases. MasterCard and Visa are the two most widely accepted credit cards internationally.
*If you’re going to use a credit card internationally, make sure to get a card with no foreign transaction fees!*
5. Always keep a variety of coins on hand to make change for small purchases.
Store owners don’t generally appreciate you paying for a 1 euro postcard with a 20 euro note. If you are traveling through Europe, you’ll accumulate a lot of euro coins along the way, trust me. I suggest bringing along a small coin purse or bag, this helps you keep all those euro coins organized and expedites the paying process for smaller items. Note: This is not as important if traveling in the U.S. where credit/debit cards are widely accepted regardless of the amount of the purchase.
1. Xapo’s Bitcoin Wallet
If you’re looking for an easy way to spend money abroad without worrying about exchange rates or fees, check out Xapo‘s bitcoin wallet. It’s a form of digital banking that allows you to save, spend, and transfer bitcoins to the person or merchant receiving the funds. This is a great resource for easily managing your money on your phone when and wherever you want.
2. RFID Blocking Wallets
These wallets help protect against thieves trying to steal credit card and passport information by using a scanner to read the internal chips. I’ve heard contradicting reviews on whether RFID blocking wallets are really necessary but in my mind, better safe than sorry! We were given an RFID blocking wallet as a gift that we’re planning to take with us on our trip to Europe in May. I’m interested to hear opinions from other travelers about RFID blocking wallets – leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Most of my international travel has been to Europe and I’ve always found money handling to be relatively easy and worry free. I use my credit card significantly less in Europe than I do in the U.S. but I’ve found that using cash to pay for everyday expenses has allowed me to better budget my money.
I’ve always used a cross body purse that zips to keep my money safe during the day, and I’ve never run into any issues with carrying my money this way. I’m always super cautious of my surroundings and almost always have a hand on my bag in crowded areas. I normally use a purse I have on hand, but I know Pacsafe makes some great, anti-theft products that are ideal for travelers.
Leave a comment and share any additional tips you have for managing your money while abroad.