You probably know some of the more common ways to secure your finances before leaving town — things like exchanging currency and notifying your bank. But at Bartlett, we can think of a few more in-depth tasks to check off before check-in, whether you’re going to a weekend wedding or on a six-month sabbatical. Here are just a few examples.
Set a budget.
Decide how much your total trip should cost and what percentage of your budget you should spend on things like food, lodging, flights, souvenirs, and transportation. It may be helpful to bump up your cash reserves, just in case of an emergency.
As you plan, research the most affordable dates for your target destination, as well as hotel, transport, flights, and amenities. Start your research at least 20 weeks prior to departure, when possible.
Your personal health insurance (including Medicare and employer coverage) might not extend to medical emergencies that arise while traveling abroad. And some expenses that are covered may require out-of-pocket payment upfront. Brush up on your policy to find out if you need additional coverage.
Skip the fees.
It’s always smart to notify your bank and credit card companies when you’ll be traveling. But there’s more to steering clear of credit and debit transaction costs, high currency exchange rates, and ATM charges. Check out these common examples:
- If you have a banking debit card that waives international fees, foreign banks rates can be very competitive. Avoid rate hikes by paying with local currency.
- If your debit card charges international fees, exchange currency at your local bank prior to leaving home, where rates are generally more favorable than at the airport or abroad.
- Double check your data-usage plan with your mobile carrier, and ask about using airplane mode/Wi-Fi to avoid daily out-of-range fees.
- If you’ve got bills that will come due while you’re traveling, either pay them in advance or enable auto-pay to avoid surprise late fees upon your return.
Take a picture.
Protect against fraud by taking photos of all credit cards (front and back), as well as insurance cards, so that those numbers are readily available in case of emergencies. Store this information on the cloud or in another safe place (not your phone).
Know what to tip.
Understand the cultural differences of tipping in your destination. In some areas tips might be included in the bill, or it may be customary to leave little or no tip at all.
These questions and more will inevitably come up as you progress in your trip planning, but rest assured that your Bartlett advisor is here to provide you with peace of mind — at home, across the globe, and anywhere in between.