One thing you should definitely do before you set off travelling, especially if you’re going for a while, is to sort out your finances. You need to make sure that you have enough to spend and live on while you’re away and that there’s enough in your accounts to pay your usual domestic bills and other commitments.
Head to the Creditfix website and use the budget calculator on it to work out your weekly and monthly living costs and how much extra you’ll need to actually enjoy your travels.
Think about your preparation costs first
These costs are very important and you can’t really move on without factoring them in. There’s your flights, of course, but then there’s also a hotel for the first couple of nights, maybe. Then there’s visas, adapter plugs, malaria tablets and travel insurance, as well as any vaccinations you might need.
Then you can start to pin down the daily, weekly and maybe monthly costs that your trip will involve. If you’re going to be visiting a few countries or difference cities while you’re away, then you’ll need to look at the specific costs of each region – trains, meals out and so on. You also need emergency money, in case you need meds, a doctor or a dentist while you’re away.
Familiarise yourself with the exchange rates
Just do some random calculations and look up the prices of, say, a coffee and a t-shirt in your destination city. Once you’ve swapped back and forth a few times between currencies, you’ll get a feel for how much things cost in your “home” currency so you’ll find it easier to avoid getting ripped off. If you’re going to a few countries, make sure you remember which exchange rate you’re on!
Learn to haggle like a native
In many places around the world, haggling is a social activity – you see people having a laugh with vendors and eventually settling on a price. For most Europeans and Americans, though, it’s unfamiliar and often feels incredibly rude. There’s an art to it, though. Just get on with it with a smile, tell the vendor how great his or her wares are and always show that you’re willing to compromise.
Some more quick tips for you
Advise your bank of your travels and where you expect to be on which dates so they don’t block your cards when they see an ATM withdrawal in Minsk!
Set up online banking if you don’t already have it, so you can check on balances and move money around.
Look at how much the ATMs in your destination country charge for withdrawals and where the fee-free machines are. If you can get a pre-paid international bank card then do so.
Take a credit card with you, but only use it for emergencies. Keep it separate from your debit card, and try to avoid using it to withdraw cash as you’ll get stung!
Always carry some local currency on you, as well as US dollars and (in some places) euros.
Keep your cards separate from each other and keep amounts of cash in different pockets, bags or safes. Keep them out of sight, too.