Essential Financial Advice for Frequent Travelers

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Traveling abroad and going on holiday are among the most exciting, memorable times in our entire lives. We create memories that will last a lifetime, and strengthen our relationships with our friends, families and loved ones. We get to experience events, accommodation and sights we could only dream of in our daily lives, and get to sit in the lap of luxury for an all too brief period.
However, going on holiday brings with it a certain set of caveats. For starters, there’s the sheer stress and worry about being in another country, thousands of miles from home. What if you lose your belongings? What if you lose your friends or family? What if you sustain an injury? While we are there to enjoy ourselves [and make sure you do!], it can be hard to stop those worries at times.

Another area that needs some thought and attention are your financials. Going on holiday isn’t cheap, and it can be even more expensive than you initially thought if you aren’t careful. You have to factor in foreign currency, your phone bills, internet bills, credit cards and insurance.

You have to have enough money to survive your trip, but not so much as to make yourself a target for theft or loss of cash. If you’re going on holiday for business purposes, you have to watch those expenses too.

So, while our financials can be tough to manage in conjunction with a holiday or trip, there are many things you can do to make this load easier. This post will detail some things you should be taking into consideration, and will offer you financial travel advice. Not everything will apply to everyone, but it’s important that you assess your situation! So sit back, relax, put some sunscreen on and let me do all the thinking for you.

Can your phone be used in another country?

Smartphones, in this day and age, are about as common as clothes. Roughly half of the adult population carries one about every single day, and this figure will only rise. It’s safe to assume that you’ll want to carry on this usage when traveling, so be sure to figure it out before you leave.

Many phone providers offer a service that allows you to use your phone abroad, free of charge. There may be restrictions on internet, but you can use your texts and calls no problem. This varies from provider to provider, so inquire with yours before you depart. If you need to make a switch to a provider that offers this service, do some research first.

If you just assume your phone is travel-ready, and it’s not, you can incur massive fees. Business owners in particular will be prone to this, as it’s likely they’ll need to make frequent calls abroad. Some of the bills received by people from around the globe are absolutely staggering, so be sure to take precautions before you leave.

Does your credit or debit card have any traveling rewards?

When you first applied for that card all those years ago, did you really read the benefits? Or was it just that interest rate that grabbed your attention?

Whatever the case, be sure to brush up on the rewards your card can offer you first. You could be missing out big time! Some cards, like, even offer discounted travel. Rewards from numerous different sources can vary, from free travel insurance to cheap hotels and even help using a car abroad. Business owners may find these special cards particularly useful, as they often offer benefits that pertain to the head of a company.

In short, the very card you use every day could help you save money on your trip. Every little helps, and if you can get flights, accommodation or insurance at a reduced price, your trip will feel all the more better for it.

Are you fully insured for your trip?

It might sound like a silly question to ask, but there’s a difference between insured and fully insured. You probably took the insurance as part of your holiday or travel deal, like most people would, but what does it cover?

The primary purpose of travel insurance is to cover you in the event of an accident, illness or injury. Broken legs, stomach bugs and fevers, for example. This ensures that you can receive appropriate medical treatment without shelling out the cost that it would usually be.

And that’s it. Your travel insurance will cover injuries, and nothing else. What if you’re traveling overseas with a lot of equipment? Maybe you’re touring with a band. Are you traveling for business purposes? Who will cover your stationery and equipment in the event of an accident? So, if you think your gadgets and technology will be at risk, consider gadgets insurance.

You never know what could happen to your phone, laptop, tablet or games console while you’re on foreign territory. Making sure your stuff is covered can help tons of eventualities, including failure, damage and theft.

Can you access some more foreign currency if you run out?

While you may think that you’re taking enough foreign currency with you… are you? Running out of money while abroad is a nightmare situation, especially if you can’t access any more.

So, assess your situation. If you have just run out of physical cash, you should be ok as long as you have some money in your bank.

Most banks will charge you a fee for foreign withdrawals, and another fee for currency conversion, but these are usually small. Check the terms and conditions of your account before you hit up that cash machine. Speaking of cash machines, some of them even detail withdrawal fees and currency conversion fees on the machine itself, so have a good look.

But if you don’t want to use your card or you aren’t near a cash machine, you’re out of luck. Some hotels will keep reserves of currency in their reception area, but if you can’t offer them any money in return then they won’t give it away for free. It’s vital that you take more currency than you’ll think you need. You never know what situation could arise.

Does your hotel/accommodation have wi-fi?

If you know you’re an internet junkie, then make sure you plan ahead. Maybe you have to finish some work while on holiday in order to hit a deadline. Or perhaps freelance travel blogging is your job and you rely on the web to provide income.

Whatever the case, it’s likely you’ll need some form of connection while abroad. It can allow you to stay in touch with your family and check out information on local amenities.

[I heart wi-fi and yes... I sat comfortably like that in the hotel lobby.]

So, check online before you leave. Is your hotel equipped? If it’s not, you need to make other plans. If your hotel doesn’t have wi-fi and you need some internet, your only choice may be a personal hotspot.

This is when you use your phone’s 3G or 4G connection as a wi-fi hub, in order to connect a laptop or other device to the web. Whether you own an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy it’s quite easy to set up. Nearly every kind of phone can do it, so if you need to work online on your laptop, take a look at this option.

Now, with personal hotspots comes the risk of going over your data allowance. The charges for this can be absolutely massive, especially if you’re in a foreign country. So, to get around this, plan ahead! Your phone provider will offer you an international booster, which allows you to be more liberal with your internet in a foreign country. It’s a small charge that you pay before you leave, and compared to the cost of an overdrawn bill, it’s quite small.

So, before you go away, research the hotel or accommodation you’ll be staying in. If it has wi-fi, paid or free, then great! If not, consider purchasing an international booster. You’ll thank yourself when you’re over there. Whether you’re traveling to Vegas, Barcelona or Venice, in this interconnected day and age, internet is all but a requirement.

In conclusion

For the frequent traveler, business owner or everyday family, foreign travel can be pricey. There are a lot of different circumstances to bear in mind and a lot of areas to cover. Cards, gadgets, currency, insurance, phone's, internet… it can all become overwhelming. This is the last feeling you want when you’re preparing for an exciting trip!

So, reduce this worry. Plan ahead. Research your destination and your phone and insurance policies. Double the amount of currency you take. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. You never know what could happen. And, above all, enjoy yourself. Those fond memories won’t create themselves, so get out there and experience everything the world has to offer!

How do you prepare financially for your travels? Whatever the case, leave some advice in the comments below!

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