A major part of getting ready for a long trip overseas – whether it’s a gap year or an early retirement bucket list thing – is getting your finances in order. You need to spend some time sorting out your money so that you have enough to live on while you’re away and also so your commitments at home are taken care of.
Your first port-of-call should be to this website to use the budget calculator so you can work out how much you’ll need each week and month to stay afloat and come home to a warm welcome, not final demands.
Think about your pre-trip costs
You need to factor these into your calculations, unless you’ve already taken care of them. There’s the cost of flights and maybe a hotel stay for the first night or two, then travel insurance, adapter plugs, visas, vaccinations, water purification tablets, malaria tablets and so on.
Only then can you get onto the daily and weekly costs of your trip. If you’ll be visiting several countries throughout the trip, then you’ll need to find out how much things like hostels, drinks, meals, trains and other everyday items are in each country. You also need to factor in money for emergencies, like seeing a doctor, buying medication or helping other travellers out.
Get to know the exchange rates
This is quite easy once you get the hang of it and before long you’ll get a feel for how much certain amounts are in GBP. This will help you to work out if someone’s trying to rip you off or not. When you’re buying something in a shop, ask to see the amount written down, either on paper, a calculator or on the till before you pay. Don’t forget, when you move to a different currency, you move to a different exchange rate – it’s surprisingly easy to get stuck on one!
Learning to haggle
In many cultures, haggling is part and parcel of business life but to the average Brit it can feel – and be – mortifying. Just dive in! Always be polite, smile, compliment the vendor’s wares and have a laugh. Remember, in some parts of the world, the equivalent of 50p makes a big difference to a family, so take the time to reach a compromise. You’ll be surprised by how good-natured most exchanges are, with some vendors offering you a drink and having a chat in between throwing the numbers around.
If you don’t already have online banking, set it up before you set off.
Find out how much you’ll be charged for drawing out money at an ATM and see if you can find cash machines that don’t charge.
Tell your bank you’re travelling so that it doesn’t block your cards when it sees activity overseas.
Take a credit card for emergencies but keep it separate from your debit card and don’t use it to withdraw cash as the interest rates can be eye-watering.
Get a pre-paid international bank card as well.
Make sure you always have some cash on you – local currency and US dollars are best, but many places also like euros.
Avoid keeping your cash and cards in just one place and don’t flash either asset about.