We’ve all been there: returning home from your trip, back into the office Monday morning and a wave of reality slaps you right in the face. The next trip seems so far away and you’ve spent all the savings for the last trip. Back to square one.
Don’t panic, breathe. Let’s get a plan to get you out and on another trip asap!
One of my best tips for travel and money is to open a dedicated travel account at your bank. Now, it’s quite possible by shopping around the banks you may find a good deal on accounts/fees/interest. I myself just stuck with my long time bank for convenience and the online banking makes it easy to move about my money between accounts.
Next, set yourself a monthly budget! How? Easy, first – get a good old notepad and pen or a slick new app to start tracking ALL your expenses. Over a month, you’ll see where your money is going – you’ll be surprised how simple small things like coffee or chocolate bars, end up costing over a month. Start shopping at more value orientated supermarkets and drop the expensive brands – 9 times out of 10*, expensive brands are made in the same place as the cheaper ones. *Statistic completely made up.
OK, now trim out everything that you can do without and put those savings into your travel account.
Also, ask your employer if they can divert a percentage of your monthly salary into your travel account every month – depending on your country, this will either be easy or else will mean setting up your own direct debit from your current to your travel account.
OK, so now you’re living lean and you have a monthly amount building up in your travel account. How quickly is up to you but within a few months you should have enough for a nice trip somewhere. If you’re doing a year long backpacking world extravaganza, then you should be going super lean and extra dedicated! You don’t want to run out of money in Peru and not be able to afford the trek to Machu Pichu. How horrible would that be?
When on the road, I usually carry about 3 days worth of cash and have more hidden elsewhere. Then take out what I need every so often using my ATM card. I haven’t come across many places that don’t have Cirrus/International friendly ATMs. Not So Fun Fact – The majority of Japanese ATMs don’t accept international cards making taking out cash a headache sometimes.
Some people swear by travellers checks – I’ve done it once and I know they’re super safe but I just can’t warm to using them. If you look around, I believe you can manage to avoid most of the fees associated with them as well. I’ll bow to anyones superior knowledge on the subject.
And just to finish with, my favourite travel money safety tip :
The Old Wallet Switcheroo
Crime is certainly a concern in some countries that are frequented by backpackers and tourists, some countries more than others. I heard a great tip from a hardened veteran backpacker of South America and while a harsh reality, it is still a valid and potentially trip saving tip:
Carry a “fake” wallet with a little bit of cash and non-important cards. The idea being that if you are held-up, mugged, then you can give the decoy wallet away and hopefully get rid of the would be thief while keeping all your important cards and money somewhere else safe, perhaps in a hotel room safe (sometimes not as safe as you’d think) or in your main wallet hidden somewhere else.
How do you deal with money on the road? Any favourite tips to share?