What was thought to be impossible in the past is now becoming very easy and accessible due to advancement of technology. There are plenty of ways now to mitigate the costs of your travel.
How and what to prepare when traveling abroad?
Travel Insurance Is A Must
- Protect yourself and family members from unexpected incident that might happen when you go away such as becoming ill. Medical emergencies can be very expensive.
- Covers trip cancellation, flight delays, lost and delayed baggage etc.
- It also protects your vacation investment in situations that you are unable to travel such as an illness, injury or death to the insured person, or family member and when destination deemed uninhabitable or due to natural disasters etc.
Buying travel insurance prior to our trip is the easiest and convenient way to protect ourselves. Generally speaking, it is cheaper and should depend on the number of days we go away.
Luckily, we don’t need to get travel insurance as it is one of the perks offered from our work employment.
Additionally, we are also fortunate that we still own an excellent Travel Card Capital One Aspire Cash World MasterCard (Grandfathered).
It has excellent travel benefits which includes: Travel Emergency Medical, Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Flight Delay, Baggage Delay, Baggage Loss, Travel Accident Insurance, MasterAssist Travel Insurance and even includes Car Rental Collision/Loss Damage Waiver.
Unfortunately, this card is already discontinued but at least grandfathered to existing card holders. It is also a straight 1.5% cash back credit card. I am also hoping that Capital One will not cancel grandfathered cards. This is my everyday card and planning to hold the card as long as they allow me to.
Travel Credit Cards
Take your credit card rather than bringing huge amounts of cash when you go away.
Be wary, using a home issued credit card abroad will have additional cost. It’s called foreign transaction charge. It is anywhere from 2-3% extra cost for every transaction and you won’t notice it as it’s already built in, every transaction on our statement.
So, right off the bat you are paying more of the item you buy.
It also gets worse, as in addition to the conversion fee, you will also get a poor exchange rate possible. This is due to the service called Dynamic Currency Conversion.
This is provided by a separate company that acts as the middleman between the merchant and your credit card provider. They charge around 2-3% of the purchase price to convert it to your home currency.
It is our common knowledge to pay the item we purchased in our home currency as it’s easy to understand how much we spend. But it is a big NO, NO.
If you are traveling to the US and bought something, choose the US currency instead of CAD to your purchase or choose the local currency not the home currency of your card.
So, if you are not using the appropriate credit card traveling abroad you might end up paying foreign transaction charge of around 3% and Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) of also 3% so you’re now paying 6% more for the item you purchase.
How to prevent this extra cost on your credit card?
Apply and get a credit card that has NO foreign transaction fee. Home Trust Preferred Visa card is one of the best NO foreign transaction cards in the market right now.
- 0 % foreign transaction fee on purchases abroad
- It comes with Roadside Assist membership at no extra cost. The services are offered 24/7 in North America.
- No annual fee
- The card also allows you to earn 1% cash back on every purchase
It is also advisable to have a backup credit card just in case one will not work.
Finally, a good practice is to inform credit card companies about your travel so that your card won’t be blocked and declined when using it abroad.
Right Debit Cards To Carry Abroad
After credit card, I favor bringing debit card as a good back up instead of bringing some cash.
There’s always that danger of bringing huge amount of cash when you go away. For instance, thieves and pickpockets are rampant in some places. These crooks can easily sense if you always pay in cash for your transaction.
Be vigilant with taking money using debit cards as there are also charges every time you use ATM cash machines abroad. This can be costly too.
Which debit card best to carry abroad?
One of my favorite debit cards to bring abroad is Tangerine card. If you are a frequent US traveler use Bank of America ATM machines to take money and you won’t get charged. That’s a huge saving if you take money several times during your trip.
Furthermore, Tangerine card comes also very handy when you travel in Europe if you use to take money out at machines that are part of the Global ATM alliance.
Smartphone Roaming Charges
We all know how expensive it is roaming charges of our smartphones if it’s not included in your plan.
The most economical way of doing it is to have an unlocked phone while you go on vacation and just buy local prepaid sim to use during your trip.
For Canadians who regularly cross US border Roam Mobility comes very handy. It is the deal breaker for the expensive roaming charges in North America.
You can buy a Roam Mobility sim card at any London Drugs store. You then activate the card online and choose your plan as to how many days you will be away.
By doing this you know exactly how much you spend on your smartphone use and NO hidden surprises.
My Final Thoughts
Traveling is fun and should be treated as such. If, we stick to our budget and follow these travel essentials it should help us not break the bank. I’m sure there are other great travel tips other than mentioned above. However, these travel essentials have worked well for us over these years and I have no doubt it will work with others too.