May 16, 2022

Financial Tips for Your Next Trip

Patrick Mayles
Forbes & Seeking Alpha Contributor

Coming out of the claustrophobia of COVID, and with so many people working remotely, the urge to travel has never been stronger. Wanderlust can lead to beautiful experiences and life-changing adventures. It can also bring unfamiliar situations and trip-ruining headaches. As with all aspects of life, it pays to prepare!

Recently, we talked about how to keep on saving during that big trip you planned. Now let’s cover some tips to keep you safe and financially secure during your adventure abroad. 

No-Fear Gear

Depending on your destination, the local culture, customs, and risks could be very different from what you’re used to. Some cities have turned pickpocketing into a veritable art form. One member of our team learned that the hard way during a trip through the major cities of Brazil, São Paulo. It only took a few blocks’ walk from her hotel before she found her wallet had been plucked from her jacket pocket. She didn’t even see anyone walk past her!  

Carrying your belongings in a fanny pack may not be the most insta-worthy fashion choice, but it can help protect you from theft. For riskier trips, consider carrying a “decoy wallet” with some cash in it. If you find yourself in a life-threatening theft situation, you can hand over the decoy without losing your cards and more important valuables. 

Cards, Not Cash 

When abroad, you’re generally better off using a card, particularly a credit card, rather than cash. 

There are some serious drawbacks to using cash that you may not consider in your daily life. A big one is the exchange rate. In our experience, ATM withdrawals are going to charge a hefty markup vs. paying with a card. Not only do overseas ATMs charge a fee, they may offer a significantly worse exchange rate as well. Cards may charge a small international transaction fee, but it tends to be much more favorable than pulling out cash. 

Another reason to pay with a credit card is the protection that they offer. You can always dispute a credit card charge if you don’t receive what you pay for, or if you didn’t make the purchase. The best companies will offer powerful protections against business fraud and unauthorized charges. If you pay with cash and get taken advantage of, your options are much more limited. 

When in Doubt, Uber Out 

We know the streets of Paris are most enchanting at midnight. We don’t care. 

If it’s dark out, take a taxi (or Uber, or anything with wheels). This simple rule of thumb could save us from so many bad experiences, and is doubly true when you’re by yourself or in a new place. Don’t risk that moonlight walk home, especially if you don’t know the neighborhood!  

Leave Something at Home

We know, another one about the risk of theft or loss. It’s not that we think every foreign destination is one big booby trap. Each country does have its own unique risks though, and you’re a more likely target if you’re not a local. Our main point is this: when abroad, losing something is usually a way bigger problem than it would be at home. 

For this reason, we recommend leaving your wallet or phone at home whenever possible. Putting your cards on a digital wallet, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, lets you swipe the night away while your cards are safe and sound in your room. Having a photo of your passport or other ID on your phone will usually accomplish the same thing. 

Traveling with your phone, wallet, and passport in your pocket means one bad moment could leave you in a terrible situation abroad. Avoid this by always leaving at least one essential item at home whenever you can! 

Have Fun, Stay Smart

You worked hard, saved up, and took the time to plan that big trip. You deserve for everything to go smoothly. 

Protect yourself by traveling light, and avoid walking at night. Make sure you avoid steep ATM fees and tourist traps by paying with a card whenever you can. 

Lastly, have fun! Snap some pictures for us (preferably with the fanny pack on).

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