Traveling … it’s a terrific adventure that is also work. Free advice from Canada’s Money Coach: if you want to travel effortlessly, you must plan ahead so that you can enjoy the entire journey.
I can’t emphasize enough that a plan and a budget are important.
Before you travel
Determine your major costs in advance of your trip. Get online and investigate the real cost of travel (flights, accommodation, transportation) and food. Next, consider how much you want to spend on souvenirs and other incidentals so you can build a realistic budget. Finally, open a bank account with enough money for your entire trip and add that account to your debit card. When you withdraw money the automated teller machine (ATM), take it out of your travel account rather than your regular savings account. This will help you avoid overspending on your vacation.
It only makes sense to pay for the big stuff before you go, like air fares, hotels and car rentals. You’ll travel confident that these details are confirmed. Be careful when you choose an excursion and restaurants, sometimes they are cash only. Do your homework before you leave home so you know how much cash you will need.
Here are a more few tips that I’ve collected in my travels. They came handy for me just recently, they will for you too.
Do all the upfront work … you know … upfront
- This is important. Call your bank and inform them about where you are going and when. If you don’t they might block your card the first time you use it on your travels. I speak from experience here, it happened to me the first time I visited Germany. Just in case something goes wrong and your debit card is frozen — easy enough to make happen by trying your PIN number too many times — make sure you know how to contact your bank from wherever in the world you are.
- Prepare for worst case scenarios BEFORE you leave home. Planes do get overbooked, hotel reservations can go astray, there can be strikes and labour shortages. Make sure you know what is going on at your destination so that you can hit the ground running as soon as you arrive.
- It’s inexpensive to use ATMs wherever you travel (most countries have them now) especially if your bank is part of an interbank network like PLUS. There are service fees but they are generally less than the fees you will be charged to exchange money at a bank. It’s great to return from abroad without a huge credit card bill that follows you home.
- I recommend that you take some Canadian money (check online to ensure the exchange will accept Canadian money) to be exchanged at the airport when you arrive. You don’t want to take out too much as airport exchanges rates are very high.
- It’s always a good idea to take some cash in the local currency to pay for essentials like food and drink, tips and taxis. Be sure you know the conversion rates so that you don’t under or over-tip.
- To be sure you can always access money, carry two credit cards, use only one and keep the other for emergencies.
- Your credit cards also come in handy for making reservations, larger purchases and are excellent in case of emergencies. In case of emergencies, they are easy to replace or cancel.
Plan — your trip will be an excellent adventure
Before you set off on your trip, make sure your credit, debit or prepaid card is accepted in the country you plan to visit. Most importantly never, ever let your card out of your sight.
Essential emergency phone numbers need to be written down and kept handy – if your cards go missing or lost you’ll need to contact the local police and the international number to cancel your them.
Here’s a tip you may not have heard before but one that should be heeded. Check the layout of the keypad on Automated teller machines (ATMs.) If you enter the right pattern but the wrong number on a foreign ATM keypad can freeze your card.
As Canada’s Money Coach I always have a plan. Be it in day-to-day life or a trip of a lifetime, think ahead. Save carefully and spent responsibly, here and wherever you find yourself on our planet. Got questions? Get in touch 613-875-5834.