A great many people have international travel on their college “bucket lists” of things they want to do before they graduate. And, true, globetrotting can be exciting, informative and gratifying, but it can also be really expensive if you’re not careful.
But maybe you don’t care to worry about price. If “spending my retirement money” is on your bucket list, here are five ways you can burn through those funds as you travel the world.
For the rest of you, consider these things you should avoid while you travel abroad.
Don’t even think about Fees, Taxes and Surcharges
Airport baggage fees, visa fees, value-added taxes and hotel surcharges can add up quickly. If you’re trying to get rid of some cash quickly, just ignore all those little extras as you budget your trip, if you bother budgeting at all. Don’t look for the actual costs; the basic rates will be enough. Before the flight, make sure you weigh down your suitcases (which can cost you $75 to put on the plane). If you end up staying in a hotel, take advantage of every little perk your hotel offers — from extra towels to raiding the minifridge — without even considering the exorbitant fees the hotel charges for them.
The truth, of course, is that because of taxes and fees, practically every part of your trip will cost more than the advertised price. As you’re preparing for traveling, find out what you can about these extra charges so you can understand the true price that you’ll have to pay.
Take only the Money you Plan to Spend
You know exactly what you’ll be spending money on and how much you will spend over the course of your entire trip. If it isn’t on the itinerary, it won’t happen, so you know exactly how much money you’ll need to make it all the way through your big international travels.
In spite of the fact that unexpected occurrences are what happen to other people, you really should stash away some emergency funds, just in case.
Have a Medical Emergency but no International Insurance
Since you didn’t put a medical emergency on the itinerary of your week-long ski vacation during your trip, it won’t happen to you anyway. But in the minutest chance that a tree might jump in front of you on the slopes, the medical insurance you already have will be fine. They cover you internationally, right?
In fact, your health insurance probably doesn’t cover you internationally, so you will need a short-term international insurance policy to help you cover any unplanned medical situations you have while you’re abroad.
Ignore your Bank
Your globetrotting, money-burning expedition isn’t your bank’s business, so don’t tell them about it. Sure, your credit or debit card might get blocked for possible fraud when unexpected charges from the French Riviera start appearing, but that’s the bank’s problem. They’ll figure it out. And definitely don’t find out about any international fees you might incur by using your credit cards in foreign lands. International use fees are disappearing anyway, so just assume that your bank no longer charges them.
On the other hand, if you want smoother and freer access to your money, you should let your banks and creditors know that they should expect to see international charges popping up on your accounts. Find out whether your bank has a partnership with another bank where you’re headed overseas. If so, you can avoid ATM and transaction fees by using that bank; if not, you need to consider other options.
Exchange Foreign Currency at Airports and Hotels
Currency exchanges at airports and hotels are very convenient, so when you need some more hard currency, go to them in spite of the fact that they offer the worst rates and the highest fees. You’re paying extra for the convenience, right?
Banks and even ATMs (if you’re withdrawing from an account) offer better rates and lower fees than hotels and airport kiosks. So if you maybe want to keep more of your cash in your pocket, seek these out and avoid the higher-cost options.
You should spend your trip enjoying your travels, not worrying about finances — but that doesn’t mean you should toss your money thoughtlessly away. Thoughtful planning, common sense and a few tricks of the trade like these can help you have a more enjoyable and less expensive time abroad.