Whether traveling for work, pleasure or school, having a budget for your abroad adventures is important. A budget can help you stay on track with your goals, ensure you don’t run out of money, and allocate certain amounts to various pursuits. Without a budget, you could find yourself dangerously low on funds with weeks to go.
Here are a few quick tips to make sure that doesn’t happen:
- Keep your U.S. bank account: This applies to people who tend to travel abroad for less than a year. Use your U.S. bank account during that time so you don’t waste your money on foreign transaction and ATM fees. There are also credit cards you can apply for that don’t have foreign transaction fees attached, such as Charles Schwab and Capital One.
- Use credit cards wisely. They act as excellent safety nets, especially if you’re a student and not pulling in much of an income. Take advantage of travel rewards but watch the interest and stay on top of your payments to avoid those high late fees.
- Use a small amount of cash. Try to avoid carrying large amounts of cash on you while abroad. You’ll need small amounts for taxis, the occasional ice cream treat or subway fare, but the rest should be kept in a checking or savings account attached to a debit card. Keep cash stashed for emergencies, as well. When out in public, keep your money in a money belt or some other concealed item.
- Keep all receipts. Just like back home, balance your checking account regularly and compare your purchases to your receipts.
- Consider your intentions. Whether you’re strictly abroad for business or you’re a student looking to experience all the nightlife you can, figure out what you want to do and budget accordingly. If you’re a food critic, you’ll need more cash than someone who’s there through work and gets most things paid for through their company.
- Look into student discounts. These abound overseas, especially in countries that frequently host foreign exchange students. From museums and movie theaters to book stores and sporting events, always ask about student discounts and save some cash. Carry your student ID around with you at all times.
- Plan in advance. To save yourself the hassle of paying top price at the last minute, take the time to plan your lodging and transportation ahead of time. From booking plans and trains to reserving rooms in hostels and hotels, call and book those things before you leave. Consider getting a EuroRail pass if you’re traveling through Europe.
Knowing the local language fluently before you arrive will also save you time and money. You can prepare for your stay abroad by using BRIC Language Systems to learn from native speakers.