Happy Friday, friends! We’ve heard from so many of you that our travel tips are helping you plan your future trips, so today we’re adding onto our travel series with a topic that’s not quite as fun as delicious international food, but it’s an extremely important one! Here are five must-knows for traveling with and protecting your money abroad:
Conversion rates are always changing, but, unfortunately, one thing seems to be staying the same: the dollar is worth less in England (where they use the Pound) and Europe (where they use the Euro), so the best you can do is get the best exchange rate possible. We found that ordering Pounds and Euros online from our bank was the best bet. Just go online, enter the amount you think you’ll need for your trip, and they’ll have it shipped to your local branch. You get free shipping if you order more than $1,000 in bills, so do that, because you’ll spend a lot more than you think you will! Lastly, when you’d leaving a country for the final time (and you’re not going back on that trip), exchange your money there! It’s a lot easier to do it while you’re abroad than when you get home, so even though you’ll lose a little bit in the transaction, it’s better than getting back home, sticking the money in a drawer, and not doing it at all!
Notifying Your Bank
You can use your bank’s debit card while you’re abroad, but make sure that you notify your bank ahead of time with the dates and places you’ll be traveling. The last thing you want is to have your card shut off for suspected fraudulent activity when you need it most! Just in case, if you’re traveling with a spouse or family member, make sure to have a few cards linked to different accounts, just in case that does happen. Our business card got flagged for fraud in the U.S. while we were abroad (and that was our backup card).
Debit Cards & ATMs
You’ll incur a fee every time you swipe your debit card abroad, and you won’t know how much that fee will be until you check your bank statement, so we tried not to. There are different types of pre-loadable cards that, from what we understand, charge a lower rate or no rate at all, but we just used cash most of the time and withdrew cash from an ATM a few times along the way. A lot of large U.S. banks have sister banks in Europe that won’t charge you a fee for withdrawing money, or you’ll only pay one of the bank’s fees instead of your local bank’s and the foreign one. You can find a list of your bank’s sister banks online before you leave. We just left them on a note in our iPhones and tried to be conscious of where we withdrew funds.
To be honest, we read some horror stories about robberies before we left for Europe, and we’ve had personal friends who’ve experienced theft in foreign countries, so we were on guard from the get-go, but decided against a money belt and decided to just be as smart as we could about it. Thankfully, we didn’t have any trouble at all while we were abroad. When we left our hotel every morning, we put any valuables we were going to leave in the room in the safe. Then, Jordan carried Amy’s purse at his side the entire time we were out and just put his hand on it when we walked through crowded places. We weren’t out much at night and we didn’t wander too many places where there weren’t other people around. That probably helped, too. Just be as smart as you can, keep your eyes open, but don’t let it control your mind while you’re trying to see Europe! Refuse to let fear prevent you from truly embracing these once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
It’s no secret we’re big Dave Ramsey fans, and thus, big insurance fans! Since we were making a significant investment in our trip, we took out special trip insurance. In case we fell seriously ill, got seriously injured, or there was a death in our family, anything that would prevent us from going on the trip, our trip insurance guaranteed that if we had to cancel our trip before we left, we’d get reimbursed 100% of our expenses. If in the middle of our trip, something like that were to happen, not only would our trip get reimbursed, but also all medical expenses abroad, as well as an air-vac out of remote areas to a reputable hospital would also be covered. We know it might seem like a stretch, or unnecessarily cautious, but we have a friend who had a serious accident abroad, and there is nothing scarier than thinking you might not be able to get the care you need. If nothing else, it’s just worth the peace of mind! On a side note, as professional photographers, all of our gear is insured here in the states, but we had to make a special call to our insurance company to make sure everything was covered overseas and attach an international rider to our plan. Thankfully, none of these horrible things happened to us on our trip, and we enjoyed every minute of it, but it sure made it easier knowing that if catastrophe were to strike, we’d be ready!
Looking for more travel tips? We’ve got ‘em here!
Part 1: 5 Gear Essentials for the Traveling Photographer
Part 2: 5 Tips for Photographing your Vacation
Part 3: 8 Things to Consider When Packing for Europe
Part 4: 4 Tips for Eating Well in Europe (Without Breaking the Bank)
Part 5: 5 Money Must-Knows When Traveling Abroad
Missed our European Adventure? It’s all here!
Part 1: Ireland
Part 2: England
Part 3: France
Part 4: Spain
Part 5: Italy
Part 6: Greece & Turkey
Part 7: Our Anniversary Photos in Venice
For those who asked, we photographed our trip with the Canon 5D Mark III camera and Canon 50mm 1.2 L-Series lens. In hindsight, a wider lens would’ve been helpful! The European streets are tight, the buildings are tall, and the tourists are plentiful! If you need gear recommendations, you can view what’s in our bag by clicking here.