Financial Tips for Your First International Vacation

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Hey everyone! I’ve got a guest post from Jon Dela Cruz from iCompareFX with his best finance tips for your first international vacation. My wife and I will hit 15 years of marriage next year and we’re looking to head to Croatia to celebrate. This article has some great tips that I’ll be following as well. 

Jon’s work as a researcher with iCompareFX has him delving into how the world’s leading overseas money transfer companies operate. When he’s not working, Jon likes taking off on long bicycle rides or listening to music.

Take it away, Jon!

Taking off on your first international vacation can bring with it a mixed bag of emotions.

There’s excitement, a sense of adventure, and not to forget, some trepidation. Fortunately, following a few simple guidelines ensures that the financial aspect of your holiday remains hassle-free.

Besides, you might even save some money in the process.

Work With a Budget

Not many people have the luxury of spending at will, with money being of little concern. As a result, it is important that you arrive at a budget even before you start making reservations.

This gives you an indication of how much you might be able to afford toward airfare, accommodation, shopping, eating out, and local transport. While creating a budget is the first step, making sure you stick to it is even more important.

Keep Your Banks in the Loop

Banks are known to temporarily block debit and credit cards if they suspect fraudulent transactions when the cards are used overseas.

Unless you want to end up with a blocked card or more when overseas, inform the issuers of the cards you plan to take with you about your plan to travel outside of the country in advance.

Read Travel Advisories

Some countries have entry and exit limits when it comes to how much currency you may carry in or out. You may find this information in travel advisories issued by governments of different countries.

While the United States issues travel advisories for most countries, so do Canada and the UK. These advisories also provide information about safety and security.

Make Advance Payments

Consider making some of the large-value payments from your home country, before you depart. These can include payments toward accommodation, local car hire, and domestic flights.

In doing so, you do not have to worry about getting unfavorable exchange rates during your holiday.

You may turn to specialist companies such as XE Money Transfer, TransferWise, OFX, or WorldFirst to make international payments. These companies do not charge any registration fees.

You also benefit by getting highly competitive exchange rates, while paying little to no transfer fees.

Carry Cash

Exchanging currencies before you leave is a good idea because forex brokers at airports are infamous for providing less-than-favorable exchange rates or charging steep fees.

Keep some cash with you at all times because you might need it to pay for small purchases.

Depending on where you’re going, you might even need cash to pay for accommodation, local transportation, and eating out. This is especially the case if you travel outside big cities in several parts of Asia, Africa, and South America.

Don’t Use Cards Indiscriminately

When you’re in a foreign country, you might want to use your debit or credit card on more than one occasion. Before you do, take time to find out how much you might need to pay as fees.

For example, if you use a debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, the ATM operator might charge you a fee. If a merchant asks you whether you wish to be charged in your home currency or the local currency, always select the former.

Using credit cards to make cash withdrawals from ATMs is never suggested unless it’s an emergency. This is because you would, in all likelihood, pay an international transaction fee.

You would also have to pay a cash advance fee, and you will need to start paying interest from the day of the withdrawal.

If you plan to travel to multiple countries, you might consider getting a prepaid multi-currency card.

A typical prepaid multi-currency card lets you hold funds and transact in different currencies. However, these cards tend to come with different types of fees such as activation fees, loading fees, inactivity fees, and annual fees.


Following a few simple measures can ensure that your first international holiday goes as smoothly as possible, at least on the financial front.

Then, with a major aspect taken care of, you get to focus on what’s really important – taking in all the new sights, smells, and sounds.

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Hey! I'm Tim.

I’m a budgeting and personal finance expert, author, and Certified Financial Coach. My mission is to not only teach you money principles, but to teach you how to mold them to fit who you are and build the life you want. I don’t like typical money advice. I’ve tried to fit into a mold by using typical money advice and I had less control of my money and went further into unnecessary debt. Now, I live to teach others how to break the mold in their own lives and find their version of financial freedom. Read more about me.

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