Holiday finances checklist

Your bags are packed, your visas are confirmed, and your immunisations are up-to-date. But have you made sure you won’t be charged an arm and a leg during your next overseas trip?

Ahhh Easter holidays: your highly anticipated, much-Googled and well-earned break from the nine-to-five grind.

Here are five ways to return to the office from an overseas holiday with a post-holiday glow, not a bill shock headache.

1. Get a card in advance

Accessing money overseas can be a costly affair. Currency exchanges and most banks are guilty of charging expensive commissions.

So if you’re a regular jet-setter, it’s probably worth looking into an overseas card.

We recommend you do your own research, but here’s a couple to look into:

– Citibank Plus Everyday Account charges $0 international transaction fees and $0 overseas ATM withdrawals fees if you use a Citibank ATM overseas.

– For credit card purchases the 28 Degrees MasterCard is endorsed by Choice as it doesn’t charge conversion or transaction fees for overseas purchases. However, it does impose a 3% charge for cash transactions and a whopping 21.99% interest rate for purchases or cash advances. So just make sure you properly inform the person completing the transaction that it needs to be a “credit” purchase and pay it off as you go.

2. Advise your bank you’re traveling overseas

Whatever card you opt for, it’s important that you advise the bank in advance when and where you’ll be travelling overseas.

That’s because an unexpected overseas transaction could trigger their fraud defense system and temporarily block transactions on your account.

In turn, you may have to use another card that has expensive fees.

3. Get a local SIM card on arrival

While most people like to completely tune out from their lives back home, for some that’s simply not possible.

If you’re unfortunate enough to be in the latter category and need to be contactable 24/7 then it’s worth looking into getting a local SIM card on arrival.

Most airports around the world sell local or tourist SIM cards and data at very affordable rates.

The alternatives are to rely on wifi wherever you go, or take out a data roaming plan with your telecom provider.

Just make sure all countries you’re visiting are covered under the plan, otherwise you might become another victim of ‘bill shock’.

For example, say you’re traveling through Europe with Telstra’s international roaming plan, and then download a work file while in Albania or Bosnia.

They’re the only two countries in the region not covered under the plan and you can be charged $3 per MB. That’s $3,000 per gigabyte!

Each continent has at least a few countries not covered, so do your research in advance.

4. Getting into town from the airport

A lot of people like to ‘go with the flow’ when they first touch down in a new country.

This can be pretty dangerous for your hip pocket, however, because after a long flight you’ll most likely take the path of least resistance.

But just five minutes worth of research before you leave for your holidays can save you hundreds of dollars.

For example, a taxi from Narita Airport to Tokyo can set you back more than $200. Getting the train, however, costs you just $15.

Likewise in Hanoi, Vietnam, a taxi costs $30, while a direct bus into the city centre costs $2.

5. Travel insurance

The first thing you should do after your flight tickets have been confirmed is purchase travel insurance. Never leave it until the day before.

For example, say you’ve booked a trip to Bali.

If your flight is cancelled due to smoke from a volcanic eruption, most travel insurance companies will only pay out (booking cancellations, flight refunds, etc) if you purchased your insurance before the volcano first started erupting.

Scenario: Ticket booked on March 24, volcano erupted March 26, travel insurance purchased March 28, flight cancelled March 30 = not covered.

But: Ticket booked on March 24, insurance purchased March 24, volcano erupted March 26, flight cancelled March 30 = likely covered.

And while we’re on the subject of travel insurance, it goes without saying that if you can afford to travel, you can afford insurance.

The cost of repatriation due to a medical emergency can literally run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Final word

With these five bases covered you can sleep soundly – or doze on a tropical beach – knowing you’re not in for a big bill shock.

Then, when you get back home and the post-holiday blues kick in, come and see us. We can help you plan for your next holiday or lifestyle goal.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

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