Best ways to manage your finances while traveling
Updated: Aug 8
As many of you know, 2023 is my YEAR of TRAVEL! In doing so, there are many things to consider in order to put my finances in order before I traveled. Here are several tips I've found to manage your personal finances while traveling, especially abroad. Check out these 5 recs to keep your money safe while traveling and your finances in good working order for when you return home.
1. Download all necessary apps
Before traveling, make sure you download all relevant apps on your phone so you can stay connected while abroad. Budgeting, investing, trading and banking apps are important to pre-install before takeoff to make keeping up with your finances even easier! Here are three of the best budgeting apps, including one to help track split expenses when traveling.
2. Automate financial payments
As much as possible, automate your financial payments while you’re traveling. Monthly bills, utilities, credit card payments can be set up for monthly automatic draft. While traveling, you may find yourself without Wifi and unable to set up your next payments. Don’t stress about making sure your rent is paid on the first of the month while you are backpacking through Peru. Make it automated before your travels!
3. Set up credit card notifications
If you are like me, you use your credit card for everything to rack up as many points or rewards as possible, even when you travel. To better track your spending (and alert you quickly if any fraud), sign up for email or text notifications for every credit card charge. While I’m traveling abroad, my Visa sends a text each time I charge something. This also gives me real time currency conversion of my expenses, so I can better track exactly what I’m spending as I go!
Pro tip: Always select the local currency when paying by credit card. Even if you use a credit card with no transaction fees, selecting your home currency (such as USD over Euros) has an extra conversion fee and is NEVER a good rate.
4. Minimize foreign transaction fees
If you bank at a large domestic institution, see if they have international banking partners. Bank of America, for example, has several overseas relationships that allow you to utilize their ATMS while abroad with less or no transaction fee. Charles Schwab also offers a free checking account with no foreign transaction fees; they will even reimburse ATM fees while traveling! Regardless, try to avoid independent ATMs as they often have higher fees and lower security. Using a bank ATM is usually your best bet for lowest transaction fees and currency exchange rates.
5. Protect against theft
Whenever traveling, it’s important to security your credit and debit cards with RFID protectors. You can buy card covers or full RFID-blocking wallets, purses or backpacks that help protect your cards from digital theft by radio-frequency ID skimmers. You should also keep extra cash and/or an extra credit card in a different place in your luggage. If your wallet gets lost or stolen, you won’t risk losing all your cash or access to spending.
Hopefully these tips help manage your money while traveling. Spend more time enjoying the sights than stressing over the best way to handle your finances! If international travel is a new and exciting adventure, check out my 12 tips for international travel for more ways to prepare for your trip abroad.