Not planning ahead and being organized can hurt you big time. If you wait too long, you might pay more for flights and accommodation. Also, rushing while planning can cause mistakes like booking the same plane ticket twice (especially if you’re backpacking and booking multiple flights), or forgetting to reserve a ticket or place. This can also cost you money.
Before you leave, contact your bank(s) and credit card company to let them know that you are traveling overseas. You should tell them when you will leave the United States and how long you expect to be gone. Failure to notify your bank/credit card company of your overseas travel may result in having your account being frozen. They will suspect suspicious activity, even though you’re just trying to use the ATM.
2a. Also, when calling your banks, ask to see if there are affiliated banks in the location you’re headed to. Your bank’s network may be able to help you to avoid transaction fees.
When your credit card or debit card converts money into foreign currency or passes through a foreign bank, you can get charged with a foreign transaction fee. Foreign transaction fees can range from one to three percent. These fees may be listed separately on your card statements. Foreign transaction fees can add up quickly and put a dent in your budget. To avoid these fees, opt to get a card that does not charge you foreign transaction fees. You can find a list of these cards by searching “cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees” in a search engine.
To also avoid these fees, it’s best to pay with cash in the local currency.
If your luggage is overweight, you most likely will have to pay for excess baggage fees. Sometimes these fees can be hundreds of dollars.
Also, if you’re on a budget airline, and you don’t meet the stringent baggage requirements, you can accrue additional fees.
Sometimes life happens. You can never predict what is going to happen to you before or during your trip. You could lose your luggage or documents, get sick, or simply can’t go on your trip. Travel insurance can cover life’s unexpected situations. Even if nothing happens, you don’t have to be on pins and needles anticipating the worst. Research to see if travel insurance makes sense for you.
While there are exceptions to any rule, you most likely will not get a fair exchange rate at the airport. At the airport, the money exchangers know tourists need the local currency. So, they push up the prices and you get a far inferior rate. When you get to your destination, pull money out of the ATM (especially if your card does not have transaction fees) or wait until you get into the city, away from tourist traps.
Taking a taxi might cost you extra. Be sure to research the different ways you can get to your accommodation. Some airports have buses outside or metro systems below the airport to take advantage of. Also, consider ride-sharing.
Before you go on your international trip, it’s wise to compare international plans and choose the one that meets your needs. If you go on vacation, you probably don’t want to come home and check your phone bill to see that you owe $600. Roaming charges are nothing to mess with. Contact your phone company to see what is the best plan for you. If you are in a country for an extended period of time (months or years), you may want to look into unlocking your phone and buying a local sim card.
In my opinion, it’s usually better to wait while you’re in the country to book a tour. If you are going to be doing touristy activities, rates are usually more competitive and cheaper on the ground. While you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your tour is covered before you get in-country, you may be paying more. People online are banking on the fact that you don’t know what the cost of tours are, and that you want to feel secure before you get to the country.
Failure to keep your valuables secured can cause a nightmare. There is nothing worse than losing something that is valuable.
Tipping culture varies depending on the country. Some countries observe it, others do not. Sometimes tips are already included in the check. Be sure to read your bill carefully and ask to avoid overpaying.
Losing all your money can definitely put a damper on your trip. Keep your money in separate, secure places.