Traveling abroad is an exciting experience but knowing how to handle your finances when you’re over there is important for a smooth trip. Here are 6 tips for traveling abroad.
Are you planning an international trip? To Aberdeen, Scotland perhaps?
You might think it’ll be easy to pay for everything with your credit or debit card—after all, we live in the age of convenience. You can use them to pay for your pre-booked taxis in Aberdeen, restaurant dine-ins, hotel rooms, shopping, plane tickets, etc. But paying with plastic isn’t always the best choice when it comes to convenience and safety. Not to mention what it could cost you in fees.
Read these five tips before you get to the airport and you’ll be rewarded with a cheaper, easier travel experience.
1. Look for the best place with the best exchange rates
In both your departure and arrival airports, you’ll pass plenty of gleaming currency exchange kiosks. The convenience and impulse to prepare for everything on a trip make it tempting to stop and trade in some of your dollars or any other local cash. However, you should avoid buying money at the airport or in any other location that screams tourist.
Currency exchange businesses make money by giving you a less favorable exchange rate and sometimes they charge additional fees, much like the foreign transaction fees you want to avoid on credit card purchases.
A good place to get local currency is from the ATM. You’ll generally get the best exchange rate that way and it’s just as convenient as a kiosk. However, the ATM may charge a fee to take out money, and your bank may have additional fees for using your debit card overseas. Check with your bank before you leave. The best way to minimize fees is to withdraw as much as possible at one time and avoid frequent trips to the ATM.
Another convenient option is to buy currency online. You have to plan ahead and allow enough time for delivery or pickup, but next-day shipping is free when you spend at least $1,000.
2. Option to Use Cash to Protect Yourself from Card Defrauding
Credit and debit card fraud can happen anywhere, but you’d rather not have to deal with it on vacation. So, while you’ll want and need to use your cards for many travel-related expenses, such as a hotel or car rental reservation, you should use cash as much as possible for smaller purchases.
Cash is a better option in many scenarios because it doesn’t expose your financial accounts to the risk of theft. Restaurants are especially vulnerable to this kind of theft because the server usually disappears with your card to run it through the machine. This is less common in the UK, where many restaurants utilize portable card readers that the server brings to the table, but you should still be cautious.
If you are going to pay with a card, make it a credit rather than a debit card. The latter takes the money from your account immediately, making it harder to get back, whereas a credit card transaction is just an “IOU” and most credit cards offer protection against stolen purchases.
3. Bring a credit card that without foreign transaction fee
You’ve probably thought about getting an international roaming plan for your cell phone, but have you considered whether your credit cards are optimized for overseas use?
Credit cards have different features, perks, and fees. You may already have a couple cards in your wallet, but they may not be the best ones for traveling abroad. Consider opening an account with one of the best credit cards for international travel.
The main thing to look for is a card without foreign transaction fees. Of course, you should never open a credit card if you believe you’ll have to keep a high balance on it. That could end up costing you a lot more than international fees.
Every time you convert one currency to another, you’re subject to the current exchange rate. Money changing stores and banks profit from keeping the difference between the rate at which they purchase your American dollars and the rate at which they sell you foreign currency. This can be a big deal or not, depending on how favorable or unfavorable the exchange rate already is.
If you use a credit card that charges foreign transaction fees, you’ll pay your bank an extra two to three percent of every purchase you make. That’s on top of whatever profit they made from exchanging your currency. So, if you plan to go abroad more than once in your life, a travel credit card is a good investment even if it charges an annual fee. Depending on how much you spend overseas, you’ll pay less for the annual fee than you would in foreign transaction fees. And many travel credit cards come with other perks such as concierges to help you make travel plans.
4. Don’t over-tip
After you’ve put so much effort into avoiding unnecessary fees when you spend money abroad, you don’t want to throw your cash away on tips. Don’t worry—this doesn’t make you stingy. Servers, bartenders, Aberdeen taxi drivers, and other service industry workers usually make more in other countries than their American counterparts. They do appreciate tips but they won’t oblige you to do so.
You may read our Tipping Guide blog, which discusses how and when to tip your Aberdeen Taxis driver. Some foreign restaurants will bring you a bill with a service charge already added. Make sure you check before leaving more. In most countries, it’s normal to round up to the nearest even number or to leave about five percent of the total.
5. Pre-Hotels, Tours, Taxis
It helps a lot to pre-book everything you need on your overseas travel. Hotels give promos during off peak season which sometimes you can use even on peak seasons. This will save you a lot of bucks which you can use on other things during your travel like on shopping.
Day tours follow the same trend. You can also ask how you can customize your trip according to your budget and make sure that the rate you pay for already includes everything from entrance fees to environmental fees.
Finally, pre-booking your transport service with dependable taxi companies in Aberdeen like the Aberdeen Taxis will help you avoid encounters with drivers who take advantage of tourists who aren’t knowledgeable on taxi fare rules.
6. Avoid Shopping Spree
It’s very tempting to shop everything you see on the streets but hold yourself and buy something local. When you plan to shop branded items that can be seen anywhere in the world, then buy only those that are cheapest in the country. Otherwise, you might want to buy products unique to the country that you can’t find anywhere else. Also, buy only those that will fit in your bag and those that aren’t too heavy so you won’t have to pay extra on overweight baggage.
7. Go Local on Foods
Eating international cuisines on your international trip may be twice as costly in your country. So, go local when it comes to food. Explore the best local cuisines to save on money and besides, experiencing everything unique to the country you are visiting will make your trip more worthwhile.
Traveling should be enjoyable, and it will be if you are financially ready when you travel. If you do your financial homework before you leave, you can avoid losing money to excessive fees. Prepare for potential hassles like theft, but plan on enjoying a headache-free vacation.
Going to Aberdeen this year? Avoid more hassles other than financial hiccups by booking with Aberdeen Taxis. Not only are you sure of fair taxi fare, but you can also feel confident that you are safe. You can also rent an Aberdeen Taxis unit to service you on a whole day tour so you can avoid spending on flat down rates of cabs. Pre-book your Aberdeen Taxis ride today through our app or our website.