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Friday, October 9, 2015

Dealing with money while abroad

By Mark Boyd

When you decide to travel abroad, foremost in your mind is the fun, adventure, and wonder that you plan / hope to encounter while on your journey. That’s certainly understandable – after all, it’s why you set about traveling the world in the first place! International travel offers many opportunities to expand and enrich your life, and that explains why so many choose to travel the globe ever year. However, despite how small our world has grown with mass communications, flight, and other technological developments, international travel is nevertheless fraught with a number of problems and difficulties, not the least of which is your health, your security, your safety, and your entire plan of travel. Chief among these concerns, however, are money matters.

Pre-departure money matters

Money makes the world go ‘round, and this is especially true when you are traveling across that world. Money allows you to travel, to enter and leave the country, to stay somewhere comfortable, to enjoy entertainment, and to eat delicious new food. Yet when traveling it is easy for money to become the biggest problem you face. Managing your money, from long before you travel to well after, is the most important issue facing you.

The first thing for you to take care of when planning to travel abroad is to contact the people most involved in handling your money other than you and your family: your bank. Let them know that you are leaving the country, as if you do not, they will assume that someone abroad has gotten ahold of your financial information and is illegally gaining access to your funds. It is their solemn sworn duty to protect your money, so they may very well freeze your bank account and credit cards, completely cutting you off from your money. That can leave you stranded, hungry, and alone in a foreign country: not an enviable position by any means. So, make sure you notify them of when you are leaving and returning, and where you are planning to go!

You have to be careful with your money while traveling abroad.

Next, you should gathering important information regarding your financial situation. Specifically, the first thing to investigate is how your bank would handle an emergency. What would happen, for example, if you lost your card? How quickly could you have a new one issued and sent to you? What would happen if your account was illegally accessed after all, while you were abroad – then what would happen? The answers to these questions and more are important for you to have in mind when traveling.

Post-departure money matters

With that information gleaned, now you want to actually deal with the money itself. One thing you should avoid is exchanging currency while at US airports; generally speaking, the exchange rate is going to be horrific, and you will lose quite a bit of money on it. You’re better off simply getting cash at the airport ATM of wherever you arrive. This cash is your walking around money, as well as an emergency stash should you lose your card or have it frozen by your bank.

Try to use your credit card at hotels and other high-end establishments, insist on being billed using foreign currency, and generally stay away from traveler’s checks. If you follow all of this advice, you will find that money is a distant worry for you as you enjoy your time abroad. Whether you’re traveling in the steppes of Mongolia or viewing the birthplace of Rene Lalique, you should be able to enjoy the here and now, not worry about your bank account!
About the author: +Mark Boyd is a website content geek with MIND Development and Design, musician and travel lover.  He rants about websites and all on the MIND blog and podcast pages.

Image: William Franklin/Flickr; CC BY-ND 2.0