How to save money when traveling abroad
Now that many countries are opening up their borders to travelers again, some of us are resuming our vacation schedules and are booking work trips.
As the cost of living rises, so has the general price of everything from fuel to clothing, potentially making travel abroad more expensive. As every dollar counts, we shouldn’t forget the additional expenses that leaving our home countries can result in: using our debit or credit cards to pay for a meal, using our current bank accounts to make a withdrawal, the commission tacked on to currency conversion rates, or hotel charges — to name but a few.
After sorting out your flights, hotels, and insurance, you shouldn’t forget there are financial services out there that can offer better deals on spending while you’re away from home. Here’s what to consider:
What extra charges can I expect when I travel abroad?
I’ve just booked my first holiday in three years, and I’ve noted a substantial rise in the overall cost of my booking. I intend to visit two Canadian cities, and this also involves a domestic hop across the country. But hotel prices, added charges for “premium services” (such as plane seat choices) and car rentals are all higher than I’ve expected.
Granted, I’ve chosen a busy summer period, and demand for travel might be outstripping supply. But I’d still caution vacationers to expect a higher bill across the board in comparison to the pre-pandemic prices of 2019.
On your next trip abroad, you may come across expenditures including:
- AT&T: AT&T offers customers a day pass for $10, which includes coverage in over 210 destinations and mobile internet access. If you’re making calls to countries outside of the scheme’s scope, however, you will still be charged per minute at a long-distance rate.
- T-Mobile: Magenta, ONE Plan, and Simple Choice contracts include free 2G (yes, 2G) roaming and texts in over 210 countries. Calls are $0.25 per minute. Alternatively, you can pick up an international pass ahead of time for high-speed internet access and unlimited calls.
- Verizon: Verizon offers monthly plans for frequent fliers and passes for shorter trips at $5 – $10 per day. Travel passes cover over 210 countries, and you can also use this international trip planner to decide what service is best for you.
- Comcast Xfinity: Xfinity supports international roaming for over 200 countries. Customers have the choice of pay-as-you-go while abroad, where charges vary depending on the country, or a global travel pass, which is $10/day per line in over 170 countries (or $5/day in Mexico and Canada). Make sure you contact the company to enable international roaming in either case.
Consider local SIM cards: If you are visiting a specific country often, it could be worth purchasing a local SIM card for making calls and surfing the internet. This way, you can top up as you need and will pay local rates rather than roaming charges — but you will need an unlocked phone.
Read on: The 5 best international travel credit cards: Globetrotter rewards
Other tips and tricks
Buy travel insurance
Travel insurance is often the last thing we buy, but if the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything about going abroad, the process should be: flights, hotels, then insurance. Travel insurance can cover you if you are suddenly unable to go, there is a medical emergency, or something else happens that puts your plans on hold.
This can save you from having to pay out for a new trip entirely. If you don’t purchase travel insurance beforehand, this can cost you dearly.
Download digital files in advance
If you need files, music playlists, films, or games to keep you occupied, or you want to have local maps stored on your mobile device before landing, make sure you download everything you need before you leave. This can prevent you from paying extra roaming charges.
On this note, something I’m a fan of is downloading audio walking tours before I visit a new city. These can be found for free as mobile downloads and cover thousands of popular cities and attractions.
Insure personal items
You should also make sure any valuable personal items you take with you have their own insurance. As I found to my detriment when I dropped my watch on an airport security check conveyer belt and smashed it, home coverage doesn’t necessarily mean travel coverage for repairs or replacement.
Explore airport parking options
Airport parking can cost you an arm and a leg, especially if you book on the day. Even booking on the morning of a trip can save you money, and the earlier, the better. It can also be worth exploring other options if airport parking is obscenely expensive, such as renting a driveway or parking space nearby through apps including JustPark.
Be flexible on travel dates
In the UK, at least, there is chaos at passport control, as many of the employees who were made redundant during the pandemic have not been replaced. During the summer, you may expect similar disruption at some major airports. If you can, it’s worth traveling at “off-peak” times and dates. Not only will you likely spare yourself the stress of this disruption, but flights will be cheaper.
Save on flights and hotel bookings
Before you book directly with a hotel, run your preferred flights and hotel dates through Google, Cheapflights, Skyscanner, Trivago, and similar services. You can often find third-party sites with discounts. However, a word of warning: type the name of your third-party site and “reviews” into Google first, as some travel companies have poor service records and could end up disrupting your travel plans.
Check frequent customer points
Don’t forget to check your points and air miles. You might be able to slash the price of your next flight, upgrade, or more for free.
Read on: The 6 best airline credit cards: Earn travel points
Eat street food
You don’t always need to eat in restaurants on a trip; check out resources like TripAdvisor for tips on the best places to eat. When I’ve been abroad, I’ve often found street food either matches or rivals restaurant offerings. It’s part of the experience, too.
Watch out for scams
If you’re visiting a new area, make sure you conduct some research on the common scams against tourists. Some of the ones you may encounter include:
- Someone draping a snake or bird on you, allowing you to take a photo, and then demanding money (the same goes for “friendship” bracelets and forcing you to wear items)
- Demands for payment in return for directions
- Fake cops, law enforcement who require “bribes”
- Transport overcharging or failing to give you back the correct change. Stay wary of “broken” meters.
For all the latest Technology News Click Here