There are many aspects to consider when it comes to planning a short or long term trip. But one aspect that is often missed but should not be forgotten is the financial planning that goes beyond budgeting the trip. So, here are 5 things you should consider doing before leaving to keep your finances in order while on the road.
Have The Right Bank Account For Traveling
Not all bank accounts work the same when you’re traveling abroad. Some ATMs work abroad, some don’t, some charge high fees, while others don’t. The type of account you need depends highly on where you live and the accounts available for residents of your country. But, start by doing some research and going to your local bank and asking them for all the checking or savings accounts that are fit for traveling. For Americans, I recommend opening a Schwab Brokerage and Checking account since they allow you to withdraw money all around the world with no foreign transaction fee or ATM fee.
Check The Expiration Dates
Check the expiration date on your credit cards, ATM cards, any time sensitive travel document like passports, and your driver’s license. Expired documents and cards can put a hold on your trip since you can be left stranded somewhere due to insufficient funds or lack of valid documentation. Usually passports need to have at least 6 months of validity from the last day you’re planning to be at the foreign country. Don’t let this technicality ruin your trip!
Some banks will be willing to mail a new credit or debit card to any part of the world where you’re located during your trip, but this might hold up your trip for a while since you’ll have to stay put in that one place to receive the card by mail.
Pay Your Bills Ahead, Or On Time
Before leaving, if the trip is short enough, pay all your bills ahead to cover the duration of your trip and even a bit more for buffer. If the trip is longer, do keep track of all your bills to be able to pay them while on the road. While bills might not ruin your trip directly, late fees and possible credit damage are not fun. I use mint.com (free) to keep track of my finances.
Notify Your Bank And Credit Card Company About Your Trip
The last thing you want while abroad is having your bank or credit card company decline your transactions or put a block on your card the moment you use it for the first time in a foreign country. This happens! It is a security precaution. In order to prevent this, notify your bank about your trip. Tell them where will you be going and when. This way, the bank will know about the possibility of receiving transactions at foreign countries and that they are not fraudulent. Should they block your card, just call their customer service number and notify them the transactions are legitimate and made by you. Having said this, it is important to have handy all important phone numbers to your financial institutions.
Additionally, make sure your bank allows you to use your card in the countries you’re visiting. For example, American credit and debit cards will not work in countries like Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, and North Korea.
Have More Than One Bank Account And Credit Card If Possible
It happens that when abroad, certain banks and credit cards might not work with certain merchants or ATMs. In order to prevent the possibility of being left without money or unable to process a transaction (like that tour you’re dying to do but can only pay with your credit card), do have a backup bank account and credit card from a different bank than your main bank account and credit card. If the main card didn’t work, chances are the backup card might come to the rescue, since different banks have different rules when operating abroad. As a recommendation, try traveling with at least one Visa and one MasterCard. Some merchants might prefer one over the other.
Other than your physical safety, it is very important to take care of your financial security while traveling abroad. Traveling overseas is often an unforgettable and enjoyable adventure, so we should make sure it is so by safeguarding ourselves from any financial mishap.