Travelling the world can become very expensive, very quickly. Even the most experienced travellers or those with the strictest of budgets can find their finances rocked by unforeseen circumstances or simple bad luck. And this is why it is incredibly important to plan ahead as far as possible and control your spending. Being wise about your money while travelling will ensure that you can enjoy your adventure without the fear of having to cut it short.
There are two main ways you should take care of your money when abroad – be safe with it and be smart with it.
How you carry your money when travelling is of huge importance. A lost wallet can be disastrous, not to mention stressful. It takes a bit of practice to figure out how best to store your cash while abroad, so read on for some top tips.
- Use a money belt – A money belt or bum bag is probably the easiest and safest way to carry cash. It ensures the money is never far away from your person, quite literally, and can help to conceal money if worn under a shirt.
- Split the cash – Store your money in several places in case some is lost or stolen. Keep cash to hand in a pocket, but have a reserve in a hidden pocket in your bag or in the hotel safe.
- Be discreet – Never flash your cash in public. Try to pay for items with the smallest denominations, rather than flicking through wads of large notes.
- Keep an eye on it – Do not leave cash, credit cards, cheques etc lying around in your hotel room. Use the safe.
- Be aware – Always be conscious of your surroundings and people who are nearby. If an area does not look or feel safe then avoid it, especially at night. Never put yourself at risk. Busy areas such as markets are particularly favourite areas for pickpockets so take extra care. If someone does try to take your money just let them grab it and run. It is better to lose a bit of cash then risk being physically attacked.
Spending your money wisely is vital if you are to make the most of your holiday and the cash you spend. Always think carefully about your purchases and ask yourself whether they offer good value for money. If there is an alternative that is just as nice/enjoyable/tasty/comfortable, but cheaper, then go for that.
- Research – Before you go abroad look up the destination and find out about the average price of accommodation, food, days out and so on. Having an idea of how much everything will cost will help you make the most of your budget.
- Avoid hotels – Hotels can be expensive, so why not try hostels, a bed and breakfast or camping instead. They can be great fun, particularly if you are travelling alone and want to meet more people.
- Cook – If you stay in an apartment, hostel or camp site there is usually a shared kitchen for all guests to use and you should make the most of this. Cooking for yourself will be much cheaper than eating at a restaurant, so explore the local supermarkets for some great fresh produce.
- Get insider knowledge – Ask the locals or fellow travellers for cheaper places to stay or eat, or free attractions such as museums or historic sites. They often have a wealth of information so it pays to ask around.
- Get on your bike – If you are doing a lot of travelling within each area the cost of public transport can add up. Of course, this is still cheaper than hiring a car, but a push bike or even a small scooter could be cheaper still. Just make sure you wear a helmet and do your best to learn the rules of the road for that country – they are not always what you expect!
- Make friends – If you travel alone things can seem more expensive, so try to team up with fellow travellers and make the most of multi-person deals.
- Get a job – You can even earn some extra spending money while you travel by taking on a few jobs. Find out about teaching English to the local schoolchildren or helping out on a nearby farm for a few days for a bit of cash. Or you could do odd-jobs in return for a bed for the night.
- Use your gadgets – If you take a smartphone or tablet on your travels download a currency conversion and budgeting app before you leave. These can help you to keep track of your spending and allow you to see which parts of your holiday are costing you the most.
Wherever you travel to and however you do it, be aware of your cash and spending at all times and assess your finances regularly to avoid any nasty surprises.