Managing your personal finance life is about paying attention to details. This is hard enough to do at home, but it’s a Herculean effort when you’re traveling overseas. For one, the cards are not stacked in your favor. There are entire industries of companies that make money off of tourists and travelers. Many of these take more than they really need, taking advantage of travelers in desparate or semi-desparate circumstances. The way to avoid this is to know the answers in advance, to be prepared to care for yourself. Simply by knowing what to avoid can save you a lot of money overseas.
- Currency Transfer Payments. There are dozens of companies providing international money transfer But the most widespread and well-known are the ones with the worst rates. Companies like these make money by taking a portion of all the funds they exchange. The ethical companies take only a small percentage. The user (you) benefits from competition in the mobile space, where new currency transfer companies get traction by offering better deals to consumers. But the field is already established in the brick and mortar space, where two companies in particular have tens of thousands of currency exchange stands in remote locations around the world. When they find a traveler who must have money now and has no other option to exchange it, they can charge their exorbitant fees with impunity. Save yourself the wasted money by having a reputable currency service picked out before you ever leave home.
- Save and Spend Appropriately on Data. When you are traveling internationally, you often need specific information at specific times. The best way to acquire it is usually through a smartphone. But roaming charges and international data usage can make this unreasonably expensive. If you are able to jailbreak your phone, do so, and acquire a SEM card from a local seller in the region you are traveling in. The result? Instant local rates for data usage.
- Buy Flights Early. If you travel but cannot be compensated for the cost of your flights, it is imperitive that you save where you can. Most people do so by looking for flights a year in advance, or more. Also consider discount options like Wow Air. In many cases, savings achieved in the air are the most significant ones you can make overseas.
- Know People. When traveling internationally is the time to call in favors and pop in to visit friends. Having people who are willing to hang out with you, cook you a meal, or give you a spot on their couch can save you money. Even if you don’t impose upon friends to this degree, their local experience will be invaluable, cluing you into great local spots and giving tips on how to avoid getting mugged in tourist areas. The Couch Surfers’ Network is a great place to start meeting locals.
Travel is expensive, but it’s quite possible to cut costs. Spend your time preparing advance, and you’ll save a lot of money over the course of your travels.