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Manage costs with careful planning

8 Smart international travel tips

Travelling to a foreign country is exciting, but it can become very expensive, very quickly. Fortunately, there are strategies for travelling for less.

Overseas travel can be expensive, but it’s possible to minimise costs with discipline and careful planning. Check out these eight top tips on how to see the world without breaking the bank.

International travel tips for your next holiday

  1. Create a budget
  2. Consider all the expenses
  3. Do your homework
  4. Plan how you will make payments
  5. Don’t forget travel insurance
  6. Keep duplicates of important documents
  7. Download Apps to help on your travels
  8. Use secure Wi-Fi connections

1. Create a holiday budget

When planning an overseas trip your first step is to calculate how much money you have, and how much you’ll need. Set a reasonable financial goal that you can achieve in the allotted time. How long you’ve been saving for will determine the level of luxury of your trip.

"By knowing your budget, you'll be able to calculate how much you can put in your trip budget per month. Then you can calculate how long until you have your trip funded," says financial fitness coach, Theresa Gray.

To start your budget, you need to see how much money you’ve saved up in an investment or savings account, or how much you can put away every month. Once you have your total you can divide it for accommodation, flights or transport, food and spending money

2. Consider all the expenses

Factor in unforeseen expenses and those that you may only encounter when you’re on holiday. These could include:

  • Exchange rate variances
  • Travel visas for international holidays
  • Applying for an international driver’s licence
  • Car hire with petrol, toll roads, and extra fees for driving over the allotted daily kilometre limit
  • Public transport budget
  • Kennels for your animals while you’re away, or paying for a house-sitter
  • International roaming fees to stay connected with home.

3. Do your homework

Doing your research before your trip will not only make your holiday a lot easier, but also more rewarding. Do some preliminary investigation into:

  • How you will get about while on holiday?
  • How much does food and beverage cost in comparison to where you live?
  • Are there cheaper food alternatives to eating out, like a local supermarket nearby?
  • What are some of the must-see tourist attractions for you to visit?
  • Do you know some common phrases in the local language to help you find your way around?

4. Plan how you will make payments

Arranging how you will pay before you head off on your great adventure will save you headaches later. Most countries accept MasterCard and Visa debit, cheque and credit cards, but it’s best to check in advance before you depart.

If you’re concerned about losing your personal card while travelling, you can also get a prepaid travel card, which offers the convenience of an ATM card with the security of loading as much money as you want on it to use on your travels.

Take some local currency along as well, so that you have cash in hand for paying your taxi fare, or grabbing a cup of coffee while you explore.

5. Don’t forget travel insurance

Sometimes going on a trip can mean you're faced with circumstances beyond your control: your bags are lost in transit; your connecting flight is cancelled; you are injured while snowboarding; or you are robbed. Without comprehensive travel insurance, these unfortunate events could turn into costly affairs.

Here are some of the risks that travel insurance can provide cover for (depending on the type of cover you take):

  • Theft of money, credit cards and traveller’s cheques
  • Theft or damage of baggage
  • Missing a flight connection or travel delay
  • The cost of having your holiday cut short.

6. Keep duplicates of important documents

Have a second copy of all your important travel documents and email yourself a copy too. If anything should go missing, at least you’ll have either another physical or digital copy on hand.

Important documents include:

  • Passport
  • Visas
  • Plane tickets
  • Travel insurance
  • Hotel reservation confirmation
  • Car hire confirmation
  • Vaccination certificates (depending on where you’re travelling to).

7. Download Apps to help on your travels

  1. Standard Bank’s banking app can help you to organise your finances from overseas. Transfer money between your current account and your credit card while overseas, and check your balances to make sure you haven’t overspent. You can also cancel lost or stolen cards directly from the app.
  2. Have a translator in your pocket. There are various translation apps that can lend a helping hand when trying to communicate in a foreign country, like Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, iTranslate, SayHi Translate, WayGo and TripLingo.
  3. Don’t know your way around? A travel app will help you navigate bustling city streets and rural backroads in your wanderings. Some suggested apps include Waze, Sygic, Komoot and HERE WeGo.

8. Use secure Wi-Fi connections

Using free Wi-Fi in hotels and restaurants can be a helpful way to reduce your data bill while you are overseas. Wi-Fi will also come in handy to back up all those photos to the Cloud, so you don’t run the risk of losing great memories, should your phone or camera get lost or stolen.

A note of caution: Free Wi-Fi could be vulnerable to cyber criminals. Always ensure the Wi-Fi network you’re accessing requires a password and that you’re logging onto the right Wi-Fi network.