Monday, March 25, 2013

Financial Tips for Traveling Abroad

Within the next week, my Wife will be traveling to Egypt for 2 weeks on a medical mission trip.  This whole experience has been a good exercise on the financial steps necessary for a longer stay in a foreign country.  Here is a short list of some of the steps we took to prepare her financially for this trip.

1.) Contact your credit card and debt card companies - Make sure you contact your bank and credit card company in order to let them know that you will be traveling abroad, the country, and the dates of your travel.  With modern day fraud protection, your bank might block your card if it sees a whole bunch of strange charges in a foreign country.  I have actually had this happen to a friend while I was traveling with him and I had to loan him some money until he could contact his credit card company.

2.) Work with a bank that has no ATM fees - This is more of a long term decision, but I currently use Schwab for most of my checking needs, and one of the perks is having no ATM fees.  This is especially useful when you first arrive in a foreign country as you can use an ATM as your currency converter.  Just simply withdraw the appropriate amount of the local currency, and the ATM does all the conversions based on the day's exchange rate.  I find this to be the best and most efficient way to exchange currency.

3.) Stay current on the currency conversion - Before you go on your trip, check the currency conversion rate so you know how much you will need and what your currency is going for.  If you need to use one of the private money exchange kisosks, you'll be much more informed on whether you are getting a good deal.

4.) Acquire travel insurance - I actually didn't know about this insurance until recently, but have developed a new-found love for it.  Most insurance plans will not cover you in foreign countries and that's precisely when this insurance kicks in. Travel insurance will cover all your medical needs, potential losses, or even travel supplies in some cases.  I believe they'll even pay for the shipment of your body back to your country in case of death.  It only costs about $50-60 and save you from a real headache in case something disastrous happens.

5.) Only carry a minimal amount of cash on your person - Depending on where you go, this rule is more applicable than in other places.  You do not want to have a whole bunch of cash on you in case you get robbed.  This is all around a good rule no matter where you go.

Once you take care of all this stuff, you should relax and enjoy your trip an take ease knowing your financial house is in order.  Just don't spend too much on souvenirs.

Wonderful Moment of the Day: My Wife is eating all her favorite foods before she goes on this trip, so we've been eating really well the last few days.

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