Saving Money when going Abroad

by - Sunday, November 15, 2015

Photo taken by Charlotte Elizabeth | Location: Javea, Spain
Yes I know holidays are that time that you save up to go crazy and enjoy yourself, without worrying about how much things cost or how much you are drinking and eating in my case. Whenever I go on holiday, I like to plan to make sure that I don’t have any nasty surprises (and by surprises I mean charges on my credit card or phone bill) and that I have enough to enjoy myself whilst still being a little savvy. But, what if I told you that you can still eat out every night, drink all day every day and explore said countries, but save a little dollar at the same time? Ahh I’ve got you interested now.

So many people think it’s cheaper to exchange your money when you land, or even at the airport. Wrong! Yes sometimes the exchange rate might look appealing but more often than not, there are hidden charges. I always recommend changing your money before you go, and on the upcoming weeks prior to your holiday have a search about where the best place is to exchange your money. Debenhams had a great offer where they were giving you the best exchange rate for the current calendar week, no matter what day you exchanged your pennies.
Some banks charge to use your card abroad, but be careful as it might not appear separately on your statement as banks are cheeky and decide to include their fee’s when they work out the exchange rate. Some banks charge virtually nothing to use your card abroad like my bank, Nationwide which means I don’t have to worry about using my bank card in case of emergencies. Although, I do try to avoid using my bank cards abroad as I am a worrier when it comes to bank security abroad.
I feel a lot safer when I have my credit card on me – for emergencies, obvs! – especially if you are hiring a car or planning day trips, you may be required to put a security deposit down. If this is the case, using your credit card instead of your bank means that you are covered by your card company if something bad was to happen. Also, credit cards are great when planning to shop abroad - if you pay them off when you get back that is – as most card companies will give you ‘No Foreign Transaction Fee’ when using your card abroad. So not only is it safer, but it could be cheaper too!
Ahh airports. The parts of the journey we usually forget to budget for. Countless times I have been on holiday, having all my euros in my purse and no English money for a cuppa coffee and a sarnie at the airport. Damn. I end up coming back, needing to pay my £20 balance on my credit card for my airport refreshments. Yes airports are expensive! Instead, when you have your spending money ready to exchange, leave a bit of pounds spare to get a few bits from the airport and for when you return, yano just in case you are like me and are usually gasping for a cuppa when you land.
When using your card abroad, check the exchange rates. Now you are out of the UK the exchange rate will be depending on what country you are in. I have also found out that when you are using your card abroad, always try and pay in the country’s currency as you get a better exchange rate. I don’t know why or how this works but when I used my card in a shopping centre, the cashier asked me whether I want to pay in my currency or the currency of the country I was in. By selecting to pay in their currency you get a better exchange rate as your bank will convert the amount to £’s based on our exchange rate rather than exchanging money whilst abroad and using their currency.
Probably speaking for myself, I hate using my contract phone abroad. After seeing and hearing my friends stories about their enormous phone bills when returning from holiday, I avoid using it completely. I’m with EE, and despite them charging only £3.00 per day for EU internet (excluding calls and texts), I still think that’s rather expensive and don’t want to risk coming home to a £4,000 bill. When you have a contract, you usually get a free pay as you go sim card that you can add credit on before you leave. I top up by £20-£25 for a 2 week trip and this covers me for my data if needed, calls and texts both incoming and outgoing. I usually come back with credit too – when I haven’t blitzed a day on the web.
Before I think about how much spending money I’ll need, we always plan what we might be doing each day. Will we be going out for breakfast, lunch and dinner most days? Will we want to go on a day trip somewhere or go visit an attraction? Once we have an idea of how much money we will need daily, we can then plan for our overall trip, and then add a little more. If we think we will need £100 per day between me and my husband and we are staying for a fortnight then we know that we will need at least £1400, and then we round this up to the nearest 500 (just for emergencies). That doesn’t mean you have to spend your daily “allowance” each day, but it does give you some cash to play with or could mean that you can treat yourself.   
This is where your credit card comes in! Just for an emergency, take a credit card or a bank card with enough cash in to last through the unexpected. You can never really budget for an emergency as you’ll never know if it will happen or how much. But having a card with you as a backup should you need it will help you in those unfortunate moments. If you are hiring a car, then I would definitely recommend taking a credit card and using that for any of the “security deposits” that they hold as the last thing you want is for your back up funds to be taken as a security deposit meaning your left with little cash for an emergency.
Are you savvy with your money when going abroad? How do you budget and plan for a trip?

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