No matter how much advance planning you do for a trip abroad, there are always some details that require last-minute handling. Some of them become routine, but they are important, nonetheless.
Footloose and Fancy-Free
You don't have to travel with a fixed itinerary or on a prescribed schedule, but you'll want to give friends and family a general idea of where you plan to be and when. Then, arrange to check-in via email, telephone, or social media on a regular basis. Depending on your specific destinations, you might also want to check-in with the American Embassy in the cities you visit, both upon arrival and as you depart. If your plans change drastically, let your at-home contacts know, in advance if possible, or at least when you arrive at your new destination.
Protect Your Personal Information
Always protect your passport and travel documents. Safeguard the originals, but also make copies of your passport and visas, airline schedules, hotel confirmations, credit card numbers, and bank contact information. Keep the backup information in a safe place. Take advantage of hotel safes when available, and also store pertinent records in the secured-cloud, readily accessible wherever there's an internet connection. Also, list the names, home addresses, and contact data (including telephone numbers, social media accounts, stateside addresses, and relatives' names) of your traveling companions.
Keep a Stash of Cash
Few travel arrangements are more important than making sure you have an adequate supply of cash -- and credit -- to carry you through your trip safely and comfortably. That doesn't mean that you should carry a lot of cash with you, but you should always have some cash, perhaps in a hidden pocket or money belt. Fortunately, there are many ways to ensure that you have access to cash when you need it.
Most world travelers recommend that you travel with only $100-$150 in cash; get local currency at the airport when you land, or bring a small amount with you from home. ATMs are available worldwide; they are quite safe, but use appropriate caution, just as you would at home. Seek out reputable financial institutions and use their machines rather than using an ATM in a remote location. While American dollars are accepted in many places, it is more "friendly" to use local currency, and you will usually get a better rate.
Credit and Debit Cards
There's no doubt that plastic is easier than cash when traveling abroad. But remember that not all cards are equally acceptable in foreign countries. Debit cards are sometimes difficult to use. Some frequent travelers maintain a separate travel account with a dedicated debit card specifically for ATM use, which eliminates fraudulent access to your primary financial account. Always give your financial institutions advance notice of a trip abroad. It simplifies transactions and lessens the possibility that a purchase will be flagged or refused as possible fraud.
If you can, travel with two credit cards. In case you have a problem, you'll have a backup source of payment. Planning a trip to a foreign country is exciting. But financial planning is every bit as important as thinking about your wardrobe.
Whatever you do, and wherever you go, have fun!
We’re Here to Help!
If you have questions about traveling abroad or need assistance getting the most out of your accounts, give us a call at 202-479-2270