One of the best ways to save while traveling abroad is to understand how to handle your money.
1. Be cautious of ATM withdrawals. Before traveling, check if your bank has ATMs overseas or affiliations with foreign banks (like Citibank, HSBC and Bank of America, to name a few), and ask about foreign-transaction fees. Those costs add up! If you know how much money you want to withdraw, do so in larger increments. For example, let’s say your bank charges a $3 flat fee and 3% premium for each withdrawal, and you want to take out $600 during the next two weeks. If you make six withdrawals of $100, you’ll pay $36 in fees. But if you make two withdrawals of $300, you’ll only pay $24. See? It pays to be smart with your money.
2. Check exchange rates daily. Yes, it’s possible for your dollar to be worth more on Tuesday than on Wednesday. Keep an eye on exchange rates by tracking them online. Also, avoid currency exchange booths in high-traffic areas, such as airports or train stations, where tourists fall prey to terrible rates.
3. Open a local bank account. If you’re traveling abroad for a semester or longer, opening a local bank account at your new destination could help you keep track of your spending and reduce withdrawal fees. Again, check if your bank has any affiliations with foreign banks or research to find another bank that suits your needs.
Facebook and email won’t cut it when you need to hear your parents’ voices or want to see your best friend’s excited face as you recap your encounter with that gorgeous Italian.
1. Buy or rent a temporary phone and SIM card. You may end up with a less-than-glamorous, outdated phone model, but it’ll serve the purpose for talking and texting. Companies such as Telestial, Cellular Abroad, or the National Geographic Travel Rental Phone program offer rental packages that work for your long-term, short-term, single-country or multi-country travels. If you already have an unlocked GSM phone (find one on Amazon.com or overstock.com and other websites), save even more money by only buying a local SIM card overseas. Sign up for a cheap plan with an international company, pop the card into the phone, and you’re ready to chat.
2. Sign up for an international calling plan. Research your mobile carrier’s plans. Although they vary, international messaging rates can be as low as about $10 per month, and phone plans can be as low as $5.99 per month. If you can survive without having the Internet at your fingertips 24/7, don’t shell out big bucks for a data plan. Instead, get wireless access while enjoying a latte at your favorite internet café.
3. Skype. You can make international calls to landlines or cell phones for less than $0.03 per minute and unlimited calls to North America for only $7.99 per month. Also, video calls are free. Need we say more?
Whether you want to save money on food, transportation, museums, or sleeping arrangements when you’re traveling abroad, there is always a solution. Go ahead, put our advice to the test. See the world and make memories – without breaking the bank. Safe travels, collegiettes!