Lauren Gross lets you in on some handy travel tips to think about before taking to the skies.
- How are you taking your money over there?
I did A LOT of research on what travel card/debit card/credit card is the best for international travel before my big Europe trip. Citibank plus account has overwhelming positive reviews on travel forums and Choice Consumer Group. This is because it is one of the only debit cards that doesn’t charge to use an international ATM. It costs $0 to access your own money, whereas competitors will cost anywhere from $3 to $8 each time. If you are withdrawing three times a week for five weeks, this can add up. Watch out though, because while Citibank won’t charge you, the bank that owns that particular ATM might. So it’s best to look up your bank’s international partners and use their ATMs to avoid an extra fee. Whatever bank you decide to go with, do your research outside of the own webpage of the institution because there can be some nasty hidden fees that can quickly add up.
A back up card is always a great idea in case your main card gets stolen or you lose it. If that nightmare happens, at least you can quickly jump onto internet banking and transfer your funds to your remaining card. Having a bit of cash on you when you land is also a good idea, but don’t exchange it at the airport where you will get hit with an unfavourable exchange rate and commission fees. According to Choice, fees and exchange rate profit margins at the airport are up to 8%, in comparison to profit margins of roughly 2.5% at most banks.
- Call your bank
Whatever bank you decide to go with, give them a call and tell them about your travel plans. If the bank sees you are spending big in Paris when they think you’re in Australia, they will assume it’s fraudulent activity and freeze your account. It’s no fun being stuck in a foreign city with no funds. Call them and inform them of the dates you will be leaving and returning and what countries you will be travelling to. Now you can spend big with no worries.
- What to do with your phone
If you have a smartphone on a plan, don’t just continue to check Facebook and Instagram every five seconds like you do at home – you will get stung with a massive bill. You can either buy a prepaid international sim here in Australia or buy a local sim when you arrive. Turn off international roaming, cellular data and 3G and try to take advantage of Wi-Fi whenever possible.
Image: fdecomite, Flickr, no changes made.