Money and cards laying on travel map

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Travel + Money — 4 Quick Tips

Planning and packing to explore a new city or country is one of my favorite things to do. But it’s not all about which pairs of shoes to take. It’s also a good idea to have a handle on your money, honey.

Here’s a scenario: You’ve landed in New Orleans or Croatia. Two vastly different places, I know, but the issue is the same. You need cash, but don’t want to pay for the privilege to take some out of the ATM. I’m with you.

After years of traveling and now living in another country for a few years, I have a pretty solid system down. I’m happy to share some of my go-to cards and quick tips. While these work for me, they may not be your jam or applicable to where you’re traveling. No problem, just use them as a guide to get started.

To note — I’m going to focus on international travel as it’s a bit more tricky than domestic travel and these tips will likely apply to both scenarios.

1. Know Your Fees

Here’s my two cents on this: If your credit card or debit card is charging you fees to access and spend your money, it might be time to seriously rethink your banking strategy. There’s too many fabulous financial products out there that are fee FREE to justify staying with a bank that likes to charge you for breathing.

When contemplating which card to use while traveling, consider:

  • Are they charging international fees?
  • What is their ATM availability and associated fees?
  • Is there a limit on how much cash you can pull out in a day?

If the answers to these questions have your hard earned cash floating out of your account one petty fee after another, then make a change. Don’t know where to go? I do. Check out my top three credit and debit cards for travel here — these are my tried and trues.

2. Make Copies

For years now I have kept a digital copy of the front and back of all my credit and cards as well as my passport and drivers license. If my hand bag is stolen it’s going to be a pain, but it’s not going to ruin my trip. I’m going to access my copies and then swiftly cancel every one of them. Because my bank and cards have excellent customer service I am going to get a real person quickly, and they are going to ship a new card out to me immediately, regardless of where I am. Crisis averted and I’ll be making my way to happy hour in no time.

3. Use Your Standbys

No need to totally switch things up. When I’m traveling I routinely will use the same apps when I’m in the States. Uber and Lyft are alive and well in most major cities. Just like at home, the Uber app will charge your card. BUT, be sure you know the fee structure for the card you have attached to Uber, as it will charge your ride in the local currency. So while Uber won’t charge you any fees, your bank might.

4. Get Cash Upon Arrival

I’m a big fan of show up and get cash from an ATM. As long as you know your cards are going to work internationally, there’s no reason to get local currency from the bank at home or change money. In fact, I suggest you not change cash to the local currency unless you have a big wad of it from a previous country and you don’t plan on using it. But even then, don’t change at an airport. They charge huge fees and you’ll quickly have pennies left from dollars. Go into town and do it there.

As I said earlier, these tips won’t fit every scenario, but they are a good starting point. If you have a specific question about money and travel, please do ask, I’m happy to help. If you’re wondering about it then probably lots of other folks are as well and talking about it will benefit all of us.

Happy Travels and Ciao for Now!