Most of us love to travel. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, you always want your trip to go as smoothly as possible. There are no guarantees, of course, but taking the time to do some careful planning and having a bit of foresight can greatly help you avoid many of the problems which can end up being both embarrassing and costly. Being a smart traveler is just as much about knowing what not to do so you can spend more time doing the things you truly want to. This is especially important when it comes to how you handle your money when traveling. Unfortunately, there are a number of common pitfalls that far too many people waste money on when traveling. Below is a list of five of the more common financial traveling errors that people make so that you can steer clear of them on your next vacation.
Not setting a budget or going over the one you’ve set
Running out of money when you’re abroad is a sure way to ruin your trip. Even if the company is paying your expenses, it’s important to always be aware of how much money you have and how much more you’ll need. Prepare a budget beforehand, taking everything into account, including transportation, meals, lodging, entertainment and anything else that’s likely to come up. Add in enough for emergencies and once you’ve come up with a figure, stick to it.
Leaving valuables in your motel room
Most of us carry an incredible number of valuable items on vacation and business. How much do you have invested in your laptop, iPad, smart phone, DSLR, or other electronics? What about that ruby necklace you brought to wear to dinner and your extra cash? It’s all secure, behind the lock on your motel door, right? Wrong. You’re not the only one with a key. Don’t tempt the wrong people. Use the hotel safe or carry those things with you. Better yet, leave them at home or with a trusted friend if you don’t really need them.
Exchanging too much currency
When you are traveling, there’s a good chance that you’re going to need to exchange currency, but it’s easy to exchange more cash than you need, especially if this is your first trip to a particular country. Not only does this leave you more open to theft (It’s easier for thieves to spend their own country’s currency), it means you may come home with a surplus of foreign money to convert back. Exchange rates can change dramatically overnight and you could end up losing money. Swap just enough funds to meet your needs, when you need them.
Not knowing your cell phone is roaming while you are
Don’t come home to find hundreds of extra dollars charged to your cell phone account because you didn’t have international coverage on your plan. Take the time before you leave to make sure you know your plan, including both voice and messaging and make sure you have global coverage. Those 50 text messages from the kids could cost as much as a few international calls.
Getting hit with extra fees on your cards
Both your credit card and debit card can incur extra fees on foreign transactions. This applies even when charges are in your own currency. If you’re going to use your plastic while you’re away, know what it’s going to cost you. You may be able to upgrade to a different bank account to avoid the charges. Go to your local bank branch and discuss your options before you leave.