How to Manage Your Money When Traveling Abroad: Need Tips?

Escape Cadet Staff

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Managing Your Finances While Traveling

Traveling internationally can be a thrilling adventure, but it’s not just about packing your bags and hopping on a plane. Have you ever wondered how to handle money matters while abroad? Or puzzled over how to manage bill payments while enjoying your travels?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unpack the nuances of managing funds during international travel. We will delve into the basics of currency exchange, balancing cash and card usage, handling emergency expenses, and even online bill payments. To the avid globetrotter or the occasional vacationer, this article is your go-to resource to ensure your travels are not just memorable, but financially savvy too.

The Basics of Exchange Rates

On Handling Money While Traveling Internationally

The Basics of Exchange Rates

When you travel, one thing you will encounter is the “exchange rate.” This is simply the rate at which one currency can be exchanged for another. The value of currencies can fluctuate in relation to one another.

Lets take a practical example. If the exchange rate is 1 USD = 0.85 EUR, it means you will receive 0.85 Euros for every US dollar you exchange.

Identifying Reliable Currency Exchange Services

An essential task when managing money internationally is finding trustworthy currency exchange services. Remember, not all services offer good rates.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Use Apps: Many applications enable you to compare exchange rates from multiple sources.
  • Avoid Airport and Hotel Exchanges: Typically, these services charge higher rates.

Credit Cards for International Travels

If handled correctly, credit cards can be a convenient tool for international transactions.

  • Use Cards with No Foreign Transaction Fees: Some cards do not charge fees for transactions made in a foreign currency.
  • Inform your Credit Card Company of your Travel Plans: This can prevent your account from being flagged for suspicious activity.

Using Cash When Abroad

Having a small amount of local currency at hand can be useful for small purchases or in locations where cards aren’t accepted.

Where to get Cash

ATMs generally offer the best exchange rates. However, check if your bank charges foreign transaction fees or flat fees for using international ATMs.

Be Aware Of Potential Scams

It’s crucial to be cautious about where you exchange your money.

Traveller’s Checks: Are They Still Relevant?

Once a darling for international travelers, traveler’s checks have lost their relevance over the years. Modern solutions like credit cards and mobile payment apps have outshone them due to their convenience and security.

Can You Use Your Regular Bank Account?

Yes, this is possible. You’d need is a swipe card that supports international transactions. However, understand the fees charged by your bank for international transactions.

The Role of Digital Wallets in International Travel

Digital wallets and prepaid cards have become popular for international travelers. They offer a convenient way of managing funds while traveling. Brands like Revolut and Transferwise provide cards that can hold multiple currencies while providing competitive exchange rates.

Deciding The Amount of Cash to Carry

Foreseeable Cash Expenses

One of the primary factors that will dictate how much cash you need when backpacking is your estimated expenses. Here are the main things to consider:

  • Public Transport: Are you likely to use local buses, trains, or cabs that only accept cash?
  • Street food and Local Market: Street vendors and local markets often only accept cash, so it’s important to have enough on hand.
  • Tips and Gratuities: Depending on where you go, it may be customary to tip in cash.
  • Emergency Cash: It’s always wise to have some extra cash stashed away for emergencies.

Balance Between Cash and Cards

While it is undoubtedly crucial to carry some cash while traveling, it’s also important not to carry too much due to risk of losing it or potential theft. Instead, aim to strike a balance between the amount of cash and electronic funds you carry.

Split Your Cash

Traveling with all of your cash in one place poses a serious risk. It’s recommended that backpackers split their cash and keep it in different locations. This could include keeping some in your wallet, some hidden in your suitcase, and some in a hidden pouch or money belt for example.

Additional Tools for Money Management While Traveling

Prepaid Travel Cards

Prepaid travel cards are a useful way to manage your budget. These work similarly to debit cards, but you pre-load them with a specific amount of money. They often come with excellent exchange rates, protection against loss, and are accepted by most merchants worldwide.

Mobile Banking

Banks have sophisticated mobile apps that allow you to manage your account, transfer money, pay bills, and check balances from anywhere with internet access. These can be useful for tracking your spending and managing your budget on the go.

Financial Apps

Financial apps can be useful in helping you budget and track your expenses while traveling. Apps like Mint, PocketGuard, and YNAB give you a comprehensive view of your finances, help you set and stick to budgets and track your spending during your trip.

Comparing Costs

Using cost comparison websites can help you ensure you’re getting the most for your money. Websites like Numbeo provide cost of living comparisons for countries around the world.

Advanced Tips for Handling Money During International Travel

The Art of Fees Mitigation

Avoiding excess fees when making transactions abroad is vital for efficient money management.

  • Opt for ATMs linked to your home bank: Partner banks often don’t charge withdrawal fees.
  • Consider a Checking Account for Travelers: Certain banks offer accounts with reduced or zero fees for international transactions.

Maximize Credit Card Perks

Making the most of your credit card’s perks and features can help optimize your finances while traveling abroad.

  • Use Cards Offering Travel Perks: Some credit cards offer travel insurance, airport lounge access, or airline miles.
  • Maximize Cashback Offers: Some cards provide valuable cashback opportunities or reward points when used abroad.

Local Banking: A Not So Common Approach

For longer stays, consider opening a local bank account. This approach can help you avoid international transaction fees and unfavorable exchange rates.

Evaluating Digital Banking Solutions

International Money Transfer Services

Online international money transfer services, such as TransferWise and Xendpay, offer competitive exchange rates and lower fees compared to traditional banks. These platforms allow you to transfer money directly to foreign bank accounts or pick up cash at various locations worldwide.

Exploring Crypto-Wallets

Cryptocurrency wallets are a novel way of managing money while traveling abroad. These function as a ‘universal currency,’ eliminating the need for currency exchange. Be cautious, though, and check the legality and acceptance of cryptocurrencies in your destination country.

Mobile Payments: The Next Level

Mobile payment services, such as Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay, are increasingly accepted worldwide. These services offer a contactless, secure, and convenient way to make payments abroad.

Additional Considerations: Insurance and Cost of Living

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a crucial factor in managing finances during international travel. Be sure to secure comprehensive coverage, which may include protections against trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and even loss of valuables.

Understanding the Cost of Living

Doing research on your destination’s cost of living before the trip can provide a realistic expectation of your expenses. Websites like The Earth Awaits offer information on living costs in cities around the world, helping in making a well-informed budget.

Seasonal Price Fluctuations

Bear in mind seasonality and local events can drastically affect costs. Doing a little research on the best time to visit can help avoid peak pricing and crowded attractions. This could result in significant savings, making your trip more enjoyable and cost-effective.

Staying Safe: Financial Security Measures

Electronic Theft Protection

Protecting your electronic transactions is as important. Be sure to use secure connections when conducting transactions and consider using a VPN for added security and privacy.

Reporting Stolen Cards

In case of loss or theft of your credit/debit card, it’s essential to report it to your provider immediately. Your bank or card issuer can then block the card to prevent fraudulent usage.

Managing Card and PIN Safety

Never keep your PIN written down with your card, and consider changing your PIN before traveling. Different countries have different standard PIN lengths, so ensure yours will work at your destination.

Understanding Online Bill Payment

Scheduling Automatic Payments

One way to ensure your bills are paid while traveling abroad is through automatic payments. If you’re set up with internet banking, you can easily schedule payments to coincide with your expected income. This ensures that your bills are paid on time, even if you’re not physically present to do it.

Online Banking Services

Almost all banks offer online services where you can pay your bills from anywhere in the world. This service allows you to view all your bills and their due dates. Simply log into your account and make the required payments from your savings or checking account.

Mobile Banking

Most banks also offer mobile banking apps. These allow you to handle your finances on the go, making it a great solution for travelers. Just like with online banking, you can pay your bills, transfer funds, and check your balance directly from your smartphone.

Fees and Charges

Be aware of the fees associated with online banking. While many banks offer this service for free, some do charge fees, especially for overseas transactions. Be sure to check with your bank about any applicable fees before leaving on your trip.

Bill Paying Apps

Apps such as Mint Bills, Prism, and Check are designed to help you manage and pay your bills from anywhere with internet access. This can be especially useful for travelers.

Using Third-Party Payment Services


PayPal is a well-known online payment system that allows you to pay your bills and transfer money abroad without the need for a bank account. Simply top-up your PayPal account using your credit or debit card, and you’re ready to pay your bills or send money.

Western Union

Using money transfer services like Western Union can be another option for paying bills while traveling. They have a Bill Pay service in which you can pay utility bills, auto, mortgage, and more from their app or in-person at a location. However, service fees do apply.

Consideration on Communication Services

Roaming Fees

Before leaving on your trip, check with your mobile service provider about international roaming charges. Some companies have reasonably priced packages for international travel, while others can be quite costly. Depending on the length of your stay, it might be more economical to purchase a local SIM card.

Internet Service

Having a reliable internet service while traveling is fundamental, not just for bill payments, but also for keeping in touch with friends and family, booking accommodations, etc. Research the best options for your destination, which could be hotel Wi-Fi, local internet cafés, or portable Wi-Fi devices.

Dealing with Unexpected Expenses

Emergency Funds

Despite all the planning and budgeting, unexpected expenses can and do occur while traveling. It’s always wise to have an emergency fund set aside for such situations. This could be in the form of additional savings, a credit card, or access to funds through a service such as Western Union.

Travel Loans

If you find yourself in a bind while traveling, travel loans can provide you with the funds you need until you can get back on your feet. There are several online lenders that cater specifically to travelers, offering competitive rates and quick approval times.

Travel Insurance

Having travel insurance can provide peace of mind, knowing that you are covered for many potential issues, such as medical emergencies, theft, or travel disruptions. Make sure to read the fine print to understand what is and isn’t covered.

Managing Long-term Financial Commitments

Mortgage Payments

If you have a mortgage, you’ll need to arrange for these payments to be made while you’re away. This can typically be done through online banking or an auto-debit arrangement.


If you are renting, consider setting up a direct debit to pay your rent. Speak to your landlord or property management company about this option. If it’s not possible, see if a trusted friend or family member can help by making the payments on your behalf.

Subscriptions and Memberships

Remember to think about any ongoing subscriptions or memberships you might have. From Netflix to gym memberships, these bills will still need to be paid whether you’re using the services or not. Consider canceling or suspending services you won’t use while you’re away.

In Conclusion

Financial management during international travel doesn’t have to be challenging. By understanding exchange rates, identifying reliable currency exchange services, and efficiently using credit cards and cash, you can easily handle money when overseas. Additionally, embracing modern financial tools such as digital wallets, prepaid travel cards, and financial apps can elevate your financial management while traveling. Sufficiently considering insurance and cost of living will further amplify your budget control. Lastly, dealing effectively with your bills through online and mobile banking, as well as third-party payment services, will ensure you enjoy your trip devoid of financial stress.

What are some key points to consider when handling money during international travel?

You should consider understanding exchange rates, using reliable currency exchange services, handling credit cards wisely, managing your cash wisely, and using modern financial tools. A balanced consideration of insurance and cost of living should also be part of your strategy. Lastly, deal effectively with your bills.

What are some modern financial tools useful in overseas travels?

Financial tools like digital wallets, prepaid travel cards, mobile and online banking, as well as certain financial apps can greatly enhance the ease of handling money while on an international trip.

How can I manage my bills while I am away?

You can manage your bills through online and mobile banking, third-party payment services, and automatic payments. Make sure you are aware of any applicable charges before using these services.

Why are insurance and understanding the cost of living crucial in international travel?

Insurance protects you from unforeseen circumstances that could greatly disrupt your trip and potentially result in huge costs. An understanding of the cost of living in your destination helps you draw a realistic budget hence promoting efficient management of your finances while overseas.

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