Setting and sticking to your financial limits will offer you peace of mind when enjoying your travels and when you return home.
Nothing spoils that holiday feeling faster than a mountain of debt. Managing your money will mean that you are in a position to start planning your next adventure when you get home.
Here are some tips to keep tabs on your spending:
Pay in advance
If you are travelling abroad you can avoid being a victim of exchange rate fluctuations. Know exactly how much your room, tour or flights will cost by paying in advance at the time you book.
I prefer to opt for paying my hotel bills in advance when making bookings on line where possible. The advantage of this is that I can spread the cost of my holiday over several pay days and practically have my trip paid for by the time I leave home. All I need to think about is spending money.
Stay up to date with exchange rates
I usually carry my spending money as a mixture of cards and cash so that I am prepared for all eventualities.
There are some great apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone which can help you keep track of your spending and convert the cost of items to your local currency on the spot when shopping or dining out.
If you are planning to buy foreign currency shop around as many outlets charge commission fees. Download a currency conversion app to your phone and use it to check that you are getting a fair exchange for your currency before buying cash.
If you are travelling in Asia you may need to carry USD in addition to a local currency to cover the cost of visas on arrival which in some places can only be paid for in US dollars. Carry small denominations as you are not always guaranteed to receive change for large notes.
Not all local currencies can be purchased before you leave home or exchanged after you leave the country. Countries in Asia where you will need to wait until you arrive to buy cash include Laos, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.
Thailand has both old and new versions of their bank notes. Check your wallet for old versions of the notes as they cannot be exchanged after you leave the country.
As general rule you can only exchange notes not coin. Check the value of the coins in your wallet before you checkout of your hotel and see if you can exchange them for bank notes. You may be able to exchange your coins at the airport before you leave the country.
Know the financial limitations of your cards
Before you leave home check to see if there are foreign exchange fees charged by your bank as these can eat away your valuable travel budget. Not all bank cards are equal, so doing a little homework could save you big dollars. Some banks offer cards that do not charge foreign exchange fees, while others offer cards that you can preload cash in various currencies. Be aware that even if you have preloaded a currency onto a travel card, you may still be charged a transaction fee to withdraw your cash from another banks ATM overseas or be slapped with a credit card surcharge when using the credit option to pay with these cards.
Hotels and large department stores will sometimes ask if you want to pay with your home currency when settling bills by card. Before saying ‘yes’ check that you are getting value for the exchange as there is often a commission fee built into the price.
Make a photocopy of all the cards you are travelling with and the contact details of your bank before you leave home. In the event that your cards are lost or stolen you will be able to use the information to promptly report the missing cards and minimise potential losses. Never keep your PIN numbers in your wallet with your cards.
Never hand over your card to pay bills in a restaurant, shop or hotel and let the person and the card leave your sight. If you are not confident of the security surrounding the transaction pay by cash instead.
Keep track of hotel security deposits
Even if you have paid for your room in advance, most hotels will still ask for a security deposit.
Hotels can be notorious for holding on to your security deposit for a few extra days after you check out. Make sure you factor this into your finances.
Having your credit card declined when checking into the next hotel can produce some very awkward moments.
Manage mobile roaming costs
There are many horror stories out there of people taking their mobile on overseas holidays and being slugged with eye-wateringly high roaming and data charges when they get home. These bills can cost you thousands of dollars so make sure that you understand the fees and charges applicable to your mobile plan before you leave home.
Many mobile plans offer the option for you to use your calls and data when travelling for a daily fee. Check with your service provider to see which countries are included and if the option is available with your mobile phone plan.
Change your mobile data settings to wifi only to stop your phone consuming the data on your mobile plan when accessing apps and websites.
If you will be making and receiving calls from numbers in the country you are visiting consider buying a local pre-paid sim.