The holidays are right around the corner and planning a vacation is one of the most exciting things to do. What country will you visit? What sites will you see? And of course what will you eat? Once you’ve got all the essential trip planning done, it’s time to think about the smaller things like getting your finances in check before you depart.
It doesn’t matter if you’re taking a short trip across the border, or taking an extended leave to backpack across Southeast Asia. Before your trip begins, it’s important that you take care of the following so your trip doesn’t get derailed.
Make a budget – If you don’t have a vacation budget yet, what are you waiting for? There’s literally no point in taking a vacation if you can’t afford it. Yes, you could put it on credit but do you still want to be paying for your trip months after you return? Since flights and accommodations are a fixed cost, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out how much you’ll spend on the ground.
Call your bank – Credit cards have built-in security features and any unexpected foreign transaction tends to be a sign of fraud. You can ensure that you won’t encounter any problems when using plastic by calling your bank and credit card provider to let them know where and when you’ll be travelling.
Get some money – Using local ATMs will usually be the cheapest way for you to get money so take the time to figure out who your partner banks are. Knowing exactly where our debit cards will work is easy since Visa and MasterCard have ATM locators. Keep in mind it’s still a smart move to exchange a small amount of money before we depart just in case we need to use cash before we reach an ATM.
Empty your wallet – To be realistic, when travelling there are only a few cards you need to carry: one form of identification, two different branded credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express), and your debit card. There’s no need to carry your social insurance number card, birth certificate, or even your employee ID. If you lose any of those, you risk having your identity stolen.
Purchase travel insurance – Travel medical insurance is an absolute must whenever you travel. Healthcare is incredibly expensive outside of Canada. A simple procedure could cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars. Remember that no two policies are alike so always read the fine print before committing to buy.
Take care of any bills – Paying bills when travelling can sometimes be a bit of a pain so pay them in full before departing. Having a zero balance helps with your credit utilization since you’ll have more credit available, and you won’t need to worry about making payments.
Research tax exemptions – In many countries a tax refund is offered to visiting tourists but there are certain requirements that need to be met. Take the time to find out what you can claim, and what the process is to get your money back.
Find out how to tip – How people tip differs all around the world. In Japan tipping is considered rude, while in Egypt a tip is expected in addition to the mandatory service charge. It’s important to find out how locals tip so you don’t appear rude or cheap.
Decide on a data plan – Cell phones are pretty much a standard travel gadget these days, but if you’re not careful you can end up paying very high roaming charges. Fortunately, data roaming doesn’t need to be expensive. Using a local SIM card, SIM sticker, or sticking to just WiFi are easy ways to keep your costs down. Of course you can avoid charges completely by keeping your data roaming off.
Flickr: Simone Ramella