It’s easy to spend hours day dreaming about everything you’ll do and see abroad. And trust us, you WILL do and see a lot! Is it an amazing experience? Yes. Is it an expensive experience? It can be, but if you’re good about making a budget and following the steps below, you can worry less! Did we forget any suggestions below? Leave us a comment and let us know!
1. Make a budget and stick to it whenever possible. Factor in how long you will be away, what is/isn’t included in your program and what expenses you’ll be responsible for on a daily basis.
2. Tell your bank that you’ll be travelling overseas with dates you’ll be gone. If they see your card used abroad, they’ll likely suspect fraud and freeze your account. That’s not fun to deal with in the United States, let alone from another country!
3. Always have back up credit & debit cards. If your card doesn’t work somewhere, it’s important to always have a back up card or cash, especially for emergencies.
4. Don’t use your credit & debit cards for small purchases. The foreign transaction fees may be high and you’ll want to leave the cards available for large or unforeseen purchases.
5. Whenever possible, prepay for hostels, train and plane tickets ahead of time. Print your receipt and bring with you. This will give you peace of mind knowing the payment is taken care of beforehand.
6. Before you leave, research which U.S. banks offer the lowest fees for taking money out of the ATM and which charge fees for foreign transactions. Some banks in the U.S. have global branches which makes things easier. If your bank is not a global bank, they may have foreign affiliates. Ask around and find out necessary details before you leave. Remember, upfront research saves headaches later!
7. When exchanging money into local currency, banks typically have the best exchange rates. You may want to consider doing so at your bank before you leave, rather than at the airport in your host country. It will save you time and money when you arrive.
8. Depending on how long you’ll be abroad, you may want to consider opening an account in your host country. If you do, make sure to wait until you arrive and open it in person, not online. Lost on how to go about it? Ask local friends, professors or your host family for advice.
9. When you do take cash out of the ATM, be sure to track how much you’ve withdrawn and when you took it out. If you don’t keep track, it’s easy to overdraw and those fees can be hefty.
10. Keep a written record of your credit card numbers & make photocopies. If your wallet gets lost or stolen, it will be easy to contact your bank and let them know what has been stolen.
That’s all there is to it! Want more? Check out our blog post on staying on budget while abroad.