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10 Common Travel Money Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them

Traveler mistakes

The more frequently you travel, the more likely you are to seek out travel money hacks and ways to save money. However, when looking to save money while traveling, it is important to know the mistakes that can add to the cost of your holiday.

Here are 10 common travel money mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Failing to Inform Your Bank of Your Travel Plans

If you forget to notify your bank of your travel plans, you risk having your cards frozen for fraudulent charges. Having a card declined is not only inconveniencing but can be costly to resolve. Therefore, make it a point to notify your bank or card provider of your travel plans.

2. Not Taking Out Travel Insurance

Make sure you buy travel insurance when traveling abroad. The coverage will protect you against financial losses incurred following unexpected events such as theft, loss of baggage and belongings, illness, injury, holiday cancellation and travel delays. If you’re a frequent traveller, consider investing in an annual plan instead of paying per trip.

There are numerous travel insurance comparison tools that can help you find the right coverage for your trip. Some popular tools worth trying out include Squaremouth and InsureMyTrip to name a few.

3. Paying in Home Currency – Rather Than the Local Currency

While paying in sterling or pounds may seem simple, it is often expensive. Retailers charge a conversion fee for foreign currency transactions meaning you’ll be paying more for whatever you’re buying. You’re also likely going to get the worst exchange rate.

If you’re given the option to pay in local currency or your country’s currency, always choose to pay in local currency.

4. Exchanging Money at The Airport

A common mistake tourists make when travelling is buying currency at the airport. Currency exchange booths at airports have less competitive rates and may also charge a fee for the service. The best way to get value for money and have more control over the rates you get is to plan ahead. You can also exchange currency at a high street bureau or a bureau de change that’s away from tourist hotspots. Currency exchange comparison sites like allow you to get the best deal before you leave for your holiday.

5. Carrying Travellers Cheques

Travellers cheques were once a preferred way to foreign currency. This is because they could be refunded if lost or stolen, were safe – they required the holder’s signature to be used and convenient – were accepted by most retailers around the world.

Today, travellers cheques are only accepted by a few banks around the world meaning you’ll have a hard time cashing out the money. A great alternative to a travellers cheque is to carry a debit card, credit card, travel cards or pre-paid currency card.

6. Eating near Tourist Attractions

Cafes and restaurants around popular tourist hotspots are often expensive and have low quality food. To avoid eating at tourist traps, spend some time before your trip finding out where the locals eat and drink. You can also ask your hotel concierge for recommendations.

7. Using a Taxi or Rental Car to Get Around

Before you rent a car or flag down a cab, explore the different options for getting around the city. Many cities offer different modes of public transport including buses, trains, and trams. Another option for getting around the city is carpooling with other tourists to your destination.

Using public transport or carpooling services will help you save money on transportation costs when compared to using a rental car or taxi.

8. Using your Regular Credit or Debit Card for Spending

Credit and debit cards are a safe, convenient and flexible way to pay abroad. However, if you’re not careful they may prove expensive. Most cards charge a foreign transaction fee ranging from 2% to 3% and a transaction fee ranging from £1 – £1.5 each time you use your card overseas.

The simplest way to avoid these charges it to use cash when possible. If you prefer using a card, consider getting yourself a card designed for overseas spending.

9. Keeping All Your Money in One Place

When you withdraw money, don’t keep it in one place. Split it up and keep a set amount in your backpack, money belt, or on your person. Some hotels have safes where you can hide some of the cash.

10. Not Researching Your Destination’s Tipping Policy

While it’s customary to tip your waiter or waitress between 10-15% of the bill in the UK, that’s not the case in most countries. Different countries have different policies. For instance, the service charge in the United States and Canada is 15-20% while that in Asian countries is 10-16%.

Be sure to research the tipping policy of your destination so you don’t end up tipping more.

Avoiding these travel money mistakes will help you save some money while enjoying your vacation overseas.