Financial tips for vacations abroad

This guest article first appeared on the Cache Cow, the blog of our sister bank, Lewiston State Bank.

Are you dreaming of going somewhere exotic this summer? Foreign travel is a great way to experience different cultures and truly “get away” from your hectic day-to-day. If you are planning to take a trip outside the US in the near or distant future, try implementing some of these easy tips to make the financial aspect of foreign travel a little less of a burden.

Create a separate travel checking account.

Creating a separate checking account specifically for your “vacation fund” is a great way to both help you save up for adventures, and protect your primary funds while you are on one. Keeping a separate travel account also encourages you to keep on budget for your vacation and ensures that if you lose your card, unwanted transactions will stay away from your primary funds. Find a checking account that offers interest and allows you to withdraw from any ATM without paying extra fees.

Monitor exchange ratesImage of a woman overlooking water and a city with overlaying text that says "Financial Tips for Vacations Abroad"

If you are heading off to a country with different currency, you may want to monitor exchange rates weeks or months in advance. You can occasionally get a better exchange rate compared to historical exchange rates if market conditions are favorable. Exchanging your currency at a local bank rather than at the airport could help you avoid fees associated with the exchange.

Research the little things

While most people research big excursions and hotels in detail, it is not a bad idea to do this for little things such as restaurants or local attractions. You can often find menu pricing and reviews of local eateries online. This can help you better plan your food budget and avoid dinner disasters. Looking into local shop reviews and local events that are occurring during your trip can help you discover unique destinations that will make your trip more authentic.

Create an itinerary

Even if you are more of a “go with the flow” kind of person creating an itinerary for your trips with rough estimates for costs can help you budget your funds more efficiently and can also help you accomplish more while on your trip. It does not have to be minute by minute, but estimating how much you think you will spend each day can help you avoid over-spending.

Let your bank know where and when you are traveling

Most banks perform extensive security checks on your accounts to keep your money safe from fraudulent transactions. If you don’t alert your bank of your travel destination and dates, they may put a freeze on your account when you purchase that souvenir in Brazil. Make sure to inform your bank when and where you are traveling anytime you take a trip.

Know how to contact your bank in an emergency

In some foreign countries 1 800 numbers are not available or will incur heavy fees. Check with your bank before you head out to make sure you have any foreign contact information you might need in a financial emergency.

Pay bills a month ahead

Even if you try your hardest, going over budget on vacation can happen. We suggest paying all of your next month’s bills in advance to avoid any financial stress upon your return.

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