How to manage your budget when on vacation: travel hacks & tricks

So you’ve set your travel budget and learned how to save for a vacation. Now it’s time to plan how to manage your budget when on vacation. Knowing how to manage your money is essential for a safe and relaxing trip, so we’ve put together some travel budget planning tips and tricks on everything from how to access your money safely overseas to how to avoid running out of cash halfway through your trip. 

Tell your bank before you go

Before you head off on your trip, call your bank and tell them where and when you’ll be travelling. Otherwise, they might freeze your card while you’re away due to unusual activity. While you’re on the phone, ask them for the number you should call if you need assistance while you’re away. It pays to be prepared! 

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Set a daily limit for spending

If you’re wondering how to manage your budget when on vacation, one of the best things you can do is set a daily spending limit. When you make your trip budget, you need to think about how much you’ll spend on various things like accommodation, transport, meals, activities, souvenirs and tips. It can get overwhelming, so breaking your total budget into a daily amount to spend each day will help you spend within your means. You might also like to be a little flexible and allow yourself to splurge occasionally for any extra special experiences that may arise. 

If you really want to take the stress out of trip budgeting, you can book your trip with Trafalgar. Our tours typically include accommodation, transport and some activities and meals, so all you’ll have to pay for on your trip is any extra activities, souvenirs, tips and meals you’ll want. We’ll even let you know the price of optional activities so you can prepare ahead. Easy!

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Take debit and credit cards

One of our best travel budget tips is to take multiple debit and credit cards. All kinds of things can happen to your cards, from getting lost, stolen or damaged, to getting eaten by ATM machines and frozen by banks. It’s essential to have multiple backups of your debit cards and you might even like to bring some prepaid debit cards so you can really stick to your travel budget. It’s also handy to bring credit cards. Even if you don’t plan to use credit cards, they’re great to have for a major emergency. Plus, you’ll likely need one if you plan to rent a car. Even better, if your card gets stolen you can quickly report it to your bank and they’ll remove unauthorised charges from your account.

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Check the availability of ATMs

You’ll find ATMs almost everywhere around the world. But if you are planning to go to a remote area, be sure to double-check so you can stock up on cash before you get there. It’s also important to note that not all cards are accepted at every ATM around the world, so it’s worth taking both a Visa and a Mastercard if you’re not want to be extra prepared. It’s also worth researching which ATMs will charge you a fee along with your bank’s international fees. If you can find one that doesn’t charge fees or has lesser fees, you can save yourself a bit of money.

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Take cash

While your debit and credit cards will likely have you covered, it’s still essential to bring some cash with you. A general rule is to bring enough to last for a couple of days worth of tipping, meals, and transport. You should always aim to withdraw cash as soon as you arrive in the country. But it’s not always possible to get to an ATM straight away, so having some cash already can save the day.

You can order foreign cash from your bank before you leave for your trip. Be sure to ask for a mix of large notes and small notes for costs like tipping. Also, make sure all the notes are in good condition as some places will reject notes for being damaged. If you want to use a money exchange service while travelling, it’s best to bring cash in the local currency, along with a widely accepted currency like US dollars or euros. 

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Check out the exchange rate

When planning how to manage your budget on vacation, be sure to check the exchange rate before you leave. This will help you get a better idea of how much cash to bring with you and how much to withdraw on arrival. If you’re using money exchange services, knowing the exchange rate helps you to know how much money to expect. You can even keep an eye on the exchange rate during your trip using websites or apps like xe.com.

Keep track of your expenses on the trip

So you’ve set your budget and your daily spending limit and you’ve got your cards and cash ready to go. How do you keep track of your spending on your trip so you don’t run out of money? One of our best travel budget tips is to track your expenses. Whether you use an app, a spreadsheet or a notebook, it’s essential to track everything you spend. 

That way, you won’t have to stress about whether you’re over-spending and you’ll also know if you’re under budget… So you can splash out on that Michelin star restaurant or hot air balloon flight! It’s also handy to check in on your card spending and ATM withdrawals using internet banking. This way, you’ll notice any fraudulent activity more quickly and get your money back faster.

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Don’t withdraw too much cash before you leave

Since you can’t use or exchange some currencies outside the country, be sure to spend or exchange all your cash before you leave. It also helps to not withdraw too much cash in your last few days so you’re not left with a heap of money.

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Top tips to keep your money safe while travelling

Keep your money separate

You wouldn’t put your eggs in one basket – so don’t do it with your cash! You can safely manage your budget on vacation by keeping your cards and cash in separate bags and suitcases. That way, if you lose one bag, you don’t lose all your cards. When you’re at your destination, keep your money locked up in your hotel safe and only take out what you need for each day. If your room doesn’t have a safe, bring a lock for your suitcase so you can keep it safe there. On travel days, split your cards and cash between your suitcase and your day bag. You can also keep some on your person by using a money belt.

Using ATMs

Always jiggle the ATM’s card slot to make sure it’s not easily removed and there’s no card skimmer attached. You should also double-check the keypad to make sure it’s not a fake keypad to track PIN numbers. Lastly, check for cameras. There should be cameras pointed at you, but not at the keypad. Don’t use the ATM if cameras are pointing at the keypad as someone could be trying to catch your PIN number. For extra safety, cover your hands while entering your PIN.

Protect yourself online

While it’s best to access sites like internet banking on your phone, there may be times when you need to use a public computer at a cafe or hotel. In this case, make you sign out of everything, clear the browser history and close all windows after you’ve finished so no one can access your login details. Also, if you want to use free WiFi in public places like airports, hotels and cafes, make sure the connection is safe before using your internet banking or other sites with sensitive information. 

Do you have any tips on how to manage your budget when on vacation? Let us know in the comments below…

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