Learned a few things when I was traveling oversees, thought it might be useful for others.
If you have an american debit card then below tips would really help save money for getting local currency. Note that you get best conversion rate with ATM withdrawal and save you bunch (even if you pay for ATM fee). Don’t get the local currency from those airport currency exchanges, they are rip off.
- Notify your bank in USA ahead of time about where you intend to use your ATM card. They will remove restrictions on your card.
- If your PIN is more than 4 digits then it’s best to change it to 4 digits. Some ATMs may require you to enter 4 digit PINs.
- Ask your bank for list of banks without ATM fee in the country you are planning to visit.
- Get a travel credit card. Most of the major banks offer good travel rewards cards. They give you best conversion rate along with convenience and no foreign transaction fee(like $1.50 per transaction).
- Get a credit card from a bank that has presence in the country you are going to visit. It might come in handy in case you lose your card and need help locally for getting cash etc.
Smartphones, international calls and Data
- Smartphone: Generally, US carriers are super expensive to use abroad. Although signing up for their international plan may save you money, most effective and cheaper way is to use local SIM. Many carriers in Europe or elsewhere in the world offer local SIM without credit card or local address, they might just ask you for ID like Passport. You can just load some credit and start using. A $20 worth of credit goes long way including a sizable data plan.
- International calls: If you get data plan on your SIM card, it’s much cheaper to use Skype or Viber to make international calls compared to purchasing international minutes on your SIM card.
- Data: Data on local cellphone carriers is much cheaper with prepaid plans. This comes in very handy for smartphone users. Highly recommend.
- Wi-fi: Obviously take advantage of Wi-Fi as much as possible. For example, you can use it for international calling using Skype.
Safety of belongings
Many big cities in the world(For example, Rome) are notorious for pickpocketing etc. It’s best to plan for the scenario where you lose your Wallet, Passport, Credit cards, Cash and bags. Some tips:
- Buy pickpocket safe purses/bags.
- Save scans of important documents like Passport and Visas, Credit cards and so on.
- Save addresses and phone numbers of local consulates or other govt officials.
- Read local travel safety guidelines and US travel advisory for those places ahead of time.
Best way to get good food for less is to ask locals and stay off the main streets. Generally, hotel employees are good source of information for finding out about good places to eat. Best to avoid street food in places that looks too crowded and/or unhygienic.
Hope above tips are useful to you. Enjoy your trip!