CURRENCY AND EXCHANGES
It doesn’t matter how smart you are with budgeting, if you don’t take care of your money on the road you will get into trouble. Often the first step is understanding how the world currency and exchanges work.
Beware of Exchange Merchants. We recommend only using merchants at the airport or internationally certified merchants. But beware, some street side merchants may say they are certified when they are not. When in doubt go to a large bank, the airport (allowing enough time of course) and even some large chain hotels will exchange for you.
Always arrive in your destination country with some local currency in cash. Many smaller vendors and taxi companies will not accept foreign credit cards. Plus in some countries tipping is expected and you will be very unpopular and possibly even harassed if you cannot tip in cash.
Always check with your local bank for the most up to date exchange rate as it relates to you and your cards.
Some useful Exchange Websites include:
Calculate live currency and foreign exchange rates with this free currency converter.
BUDGETING BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Handling Debt and Saving:
It is a personal choice, but whenever possible we avoid getting into to debt for the sake of our travel. It can be argued that you can not put a price on life changing experiences. But if you are responsible and set realistic saving targets you can afford to travel.
If you plan to use credit cards and debit cards overseas confirm with your bank what the charges and fee are. If the deal doesn’t seem good, get a new bank and/or card.
Many banks offer travel cards with lower rates and fees, Which can often be currency specific too.
If you have a credit card and it doesn’t offer travel rewards you should look at another card. We always take advantage of our credit card rewards programs. They have provided us with cheap travel and free accommodation in many cities all over the world. We have received special deals and pricing exclusive to the rewards programs. But the number one rule is, there is no such thing as free money. You will need to work to control your credit card debt. Interest rates will quickly negate the benefit of the rewards. So use your card and use it often, but always pay it off before the interest rate charge kicks in.
The top 5 Credit Card Reward Programs in your region can be found online with a quick google search. Study their pros and cons and pick the one that best suits your lifestyle and travel plans.
American Express & Starwood have had one of the best rated rewards programs for years. We have a SPG card and have been rewarded with weeks worth of free accommodation in great luxury hotels. Live in Canada? CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR REWARDS PROGRAM STARTED
Over the past five years Four Friends have made an effort to travel somewhere amazing at least every 12-18months….5 countries spread over 3 continents. Making sacrifices in our lives has allowed us to achieve all the past travels and will provide the means to continue seeing this World. That word ‘sacrifice’ seems like such an ugly and demanding term, but we look at it like a “swapportunity”. Swapping everyday ‘now’ opportunities for incredible ‘later’ opportunities.
Swapportunities can things like include;
Limit your alcohol consumed leading up to the travel dates in exchange for cocktails on a tropical beach during your trip.
Limit your meals out in the time leading up to your trip in exchange for spending that money on a special meal over seas.
Limit adding clothes or accessories to your wardrobe in exchange for buying a new outfit from a designer from another country.
Don’t buy Christmas or Birthday presents for each other in exchange for a once in a lifetime experience or a special overseas purchase.
Remember that most material possessions will wear out eventually. A memorable experience will last your entire life.
BUDGETING WHILE YOU ARE AWAY AND AFTER YOU GET HOME
Sharing transportation for transfers, taxis and tours is just one of the benefits of travelling with friends.
Don’t spend large sums of money on smart device apps for travel. If you do make sure they offer offline access. We prefer to research and PDF maps from Google. This is a free option and they can be accessed by the devices without WiFi or costly app store charges. Trust us we have tried all the major apps on the market. Rarely are they worth the money?
We advise having a backup credit or debit card. Keep it secured (preferably with your passport in a hotel safe). If you are in transit, we suggest you store it separately from your wallet/purse and hidden/secured as much as possible. This will give you the best options if your wallet is pickpocketed or worse still you are violently robbed. Many banks are very quick to cancel your card when you contact them. Some are also very good at getting you access to emergency funds. But the backup option will always be less stressful and can result in a 5min card cancel phone call instead of a lengthier one. Of course, if your card is stolen and the only place you have the bank phone number is on the back of the card, you will be in trouble. Write the contact details for all your banks on a piece of paper and keep it separate from your cards for easy access. Remember, plan for the worst, but expect the best.
Check your statements while you are travelling. Most banks are good at picking credit card fraud. But it can be hard for them to notice nefarious activity when you are galavanting around the world. We like to review our online statements (preferably from a secure network) at least every 4 days.
To be extra safe we recommend changing your pin number and web banking password when you return home. At least one of us has had their credit card compromised while travelling in Europe and although the bank caught it almost immediately. It was not fun changing all the credit card details.
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