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Financial tips for traveling abroad

By Anna Kronzer, Marketing Specialist

For the past couple weeks, I have been planning an overseas holiday vacation for my family. Planning any vacation takes a lot of work, but planning a vacation to a country where you don’t know the languages, laws, or customs requires so much more. I’ve browsed various travel sites, scanned popular traveler forums, and skimmed travel books to gather much needed tips on how to travel safely and financially responsibly in each foreign country.

If you’re planning an overseas getaway this holiday season, below are some tips compiled from my research on how to avoid financial stress during what should be a relaxing vacation.

Call your bank. Make sure to contact your banks before you depart to let them know you’ll be out of the country. Banks will often cut off access to your card because they think it is being used fraudulently overseas.

Bring at least two payment types. You’ve already called your banks to notify them you’ll be out of the country, but in case there are still issues you’ll want to be prepared with a backup payment method. Use cash whenever possible though and in the currency of the country. Merchants often charge a “currency conversion fee” and credit cards may charge “foreign transaction fees” too which will add up. With cash, you can pay a flat fee per withdraw from an ATM versus a percentage of what you spend with a card, but you’ll have to do some math to determine what will come out cheaper.

Make copies of your important documents. It’s important that you have access to copies of your important documents such as your passport, credit cards, health insurance, etc. but if your belongings get stolen, it’s likely that printed copies may be stolen as well. My suggestion is to save your copies online in a password protected space. You’ll have access to these as long as you have access to the Internet.

Look into booking vacation rentals over hotel rooms. Since vacation rentals are most often less expensive than hotel rooms, you’ll be able to save money on what can be your highest travel expense. Be sure to do extensive research before sending your payment, since you’ll likely be communicating directly with the property owner. I’ve been checking reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor or booking the accommodations at reputable sites such as Venere.

Plan how you’ll get to your final destination. Whether by taxi, shuttle, or public transportation, determine beforehand how you’ll arrive at your accommodations to save on unexpected expenses. Taxi drivers are known to take advantage of unknowing tourists so be aware of what your fare should be, and the less expensive shuttle services usually require reservations.

Pack lightly. Not only will lighter luggage make your trek easier, but you can avoid checked baggage fees by packing a carry-on. Some airlines will charge you up to $35 per checked bag! For current fees, check out the airline baggage fees chart from

Lastly, enjoy yourself! You’ve planned well and deserve this much needed vacation.


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Strapped for cash? Opportunities to make more money are all around

There are two ways to improve your financial situation: spend less or earn more. During the holiday season, however, when expenses tend to mount and no measure of frugality (such as regifting or exchanging free printable gift certificates) will put your budget back in the black, earning more money may be your best option.

Money Management International (MMI) offers the following ideas for supplementing your income this holiday season:

Get a seasonal job. Holiday sales and Christmas shopping create an influx of shoppers which can make retail locations border-line chaotic this time of year. This is a blessing for those looking to take on a part-time job since many stores need extra hands during the holiday season and look to hire part-time workers. While the rush of the holiday season will keep you busy, working retail offers perks like hours outside the typical 9-5 and employee discounts.

Show your value at your annual review. This time of year is when many companies work on budgeting and award merit increases and bonuses to employees. Preparing for your annual review can help showcase the value you bring to company and give your employer plenty of reasons why your work deserves an increase in salary. Before your review, make sure you have met all of your yearly goals and have the documentation to prove it. Emails from clients and coworkers praising your work as well as quantifiable measurements of how you have helped the company’s bottom line (for example, increasing sales by 10 percent) can tout your value to the company.

Sell assets. People are always interested in a getting a good deal, but they are especially interested in finding good deals during the holidays. If you need to earn some extra money, consider selling things you no longer need or use in a garage sale. For more valuable or specialty items that you are interested in selling, the online marketplace may be the best option for finding interested buyers and striking a deal that suites both you and the buyer.

Opportunities to earn extra income are available if you are willing to recognize them and take action. For more ideas on how to increase your income, check out MMI’s Earn More resources.

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Money Management International (MMI) is a nonprofit, full-service credit counseling agency, providing confidential financial guidance, financial education, counseling, and debt management assistance to consumers since 1958. MMI helps consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish. To learn more, call
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