According to the U.S. Travel Association, in 2015, Americans spent $110 billion traveling overseas. If you are planning to see the world this summer, and want to save some money while doing it, avoid these travel traps when you venture out of your backyard.
Cash is Still King
If you plan to travel outside the United States, you will need some local cash. While it’s smart to pay for hotels, car rentals, and most restaurant meals on credit cards, keeping some cash on hand for little things like tips and coffee makes it easier to travel light. You can also avoid foreign transaction fees at ATMs if you bring cash from home. The best place to exchange currency is not at the airport, or even your bank. You can save 5-10% in transaction fees by taking the online route, on sites like travelex.com.
Ask For Discounts
Even if you only learn a smattering of the language of the country in which you’re traveling, master how to ask for discounts. It’s sometimes possible to haggle, so carefully observe the situations, and then go for it, make an offer (i.e. “buy one, get the second for ½ off”). Some currency exchange companies will offer a discount if you exchange larger amounts of money at a time. But be careful with prepaid debit cards. Often they will charge additional transaction fees if you use the cards in a foreign country.
You can probably guess that it’s safe to keep only a little cash on you. Professional pickpockets are very skillful, and seize the first moment of distraction or confusion to pounce. You don’t want to give them any chances. But if they happen to strike—the less they can get from you—the better. Lock up your extra cash, along with your passport, and other valuables in the room’s safe, or hidden in another secure place.
According to traveller.com, dishonest money handlers use our ignorance to their benefit. By familiarizing yourself with the various denominations of the currency you’ll be using, you take another tool away from would-be thieves. Watch carefully, make sure your change is properly calculated, then count it back right away.
Notify Your Banks
Alert your home bank and all your credit card companies that you will be traveling, even if it’s only a short distance. Credit card companies and banks lose billions of dollars due to fraud every year, so they’ve built stronger nets to filter out suspicious transactions. Your spending habits and location are closely monitored, but the card can be frozen if spending veers outside normal patterns. This helps keep fraud activity to a minimum, unless you’re actually traveling and happen to get caught in the bank’s snare, cutting you off from your credit cards when you need them.
But don’t let your guard down when you get home. Make it a point to scrutinize your credit card statement, and bank accounts, for several months after your return. Thefts have been known to occur up to six months after your card number has been stolen.