The pandemic crippled the travel industry, but once the virus was over and planes started flying again, tourists found they had to contend with yet another travel restriction. This time it wasn’t a government mandate – it was inflationary high prices.
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A new study by Wise found international travelers are now more concerned about money than COVID when planning their getaways. Rising costs are impacting international travel plans for nearly half of consumers, and the biggest obstacle to vacationing abroad is simply not having enough money to afford the trip.
If you’re considering a trip abroad but are worried about the financial woes such a trip might get you into, you’re in good company. The Wise study found that the emergency travelers fear most now isn’t getting sick or being robbed — they’re running out of money.
The good news is that every traveler can lower the cost of traveling abroad by making smart money along the way. For insight into how you can shrink your travel budget without skimping on memories, GOBankingRates interviewed Wise travel partner and 12-time Heartland Emmy Award winner for travel videos, Jules Broste of TravelingJules.
Here are her top tips for cutting costs with the jet set.
Set a budget and stick to it
Whether your journey takes you to Canada, Croatia, or somewhere in between, you’ll be swept away by the sights, sounds, and tastes of your once-in-a-lifetime trip. And because it’s so rare and special, the YOLO mentality can set in.
Once it does, it won’t be long before it spreads to your wallet.
“It’s easy to overspend on vacation, especially abroad, blindly swipe your credit card and plan to take care of it later when you get back to the US,” Broste said. “Sitting down ahead of time and nailing down a budget will help kick that habit and avoid holiday debt regrets.”
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Convert currencies in advance
Converting your greenbacks to local currency is something you’ll want to do while you’re still this side of the ocean. Once you reach your destination, exchange offices know they are your only option – and this will reflect in their higher prices.
“Exchange rates fluctuate all the time and are sometimes confusing,” Broste said. “There’s a good chance you can get a cheaper rate by contacting your bank or money transfer service in the US. If you’re looking for a money transfer account, look for an auto-conversion account that lets you convert currencies once your desired exchange rate is reached.”
Live and spend like a local
You’ll probably want to dine at a few restaurants during your trip, and there’s no harm in that. But make sure those moments are planned and conscious — likewise for taxi rides, hotel stays, and even coffee. The rest of the time, follow the same budgeting guidelines you would follow to save money at home.
“For example, grocery shopping and cooking meals,” Broste said. “Take public transport or rent a bike and take advantage of one of the many hospitality exchanges for affordable accommodation.”
Create a second “wallet”
Your wallet can be lost or stolen on vacation just like at home, even if you are vigilant and alert. The difference is that when you’re abroad, you’re a long way from your bank, your backups, and all the things you need to get back on your feet.
Broste offers the clever suggestion of keeping a secret stash that thieves can avoid if the worst happens.
“Keep a debit card, a credit card, and some cash in your actual wallet,” she said. “But make one out of an old deodorant tube or makeup case with another debit card, another credit card and some spare cash and keep it in a hidden compartment in your luggage for emergencies.”
Be prepared for flight cancellations
This year has been an unusually busy and frustrating year for many travellers. According to Simple Flying, through early July 2022 there were more cancellations than all of 2021. Be prepared with a rebooking strategy in case you stay in the country longer than planned.
“If you find yourself abroad for a few more days than expected due to a rebooking, use a multi-currency or universal account to save money on foreign exchange fees and exchange rates and lower the overall cost of your extra days,” Broste said.
If you have to cancel, think before you rebook
Even when the airlines are running smoothly, you may need to rebook to cope with an emergency or a shift in your schedule. This can get expensive quickly, so plan for this before making your travel arrangements.
“Read the fine print and ask questions,” Broste said. “Do you have to rebook by a certain date? Can you change your travel destination? Are your checked bags covered? If you book a more expensive flight, will you incur the costs? Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting and the limitations to avoid surprise spending. Before making a rebooking, consider what else you booked as part of your original trip and what financial and experiential losses you could incur. Is your hotel non-refundable? Would you miss an event like a concert that you bought tickets for? for a birthday or another milestone in life? Make sure you record exactly what you would have to move, what you would miss out on and how much money you could lose as a result.”
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 6 Top Money Saving Tips for International Travelers