Are You Scared of Running out of Money on Your Travels?
We did what we were supposed to do before leaving on our trip—we sat down and made a budget, even holding a little in reserve for emergencies. But something went wrong. Here we are in (wherever) and we don’t even have enough to pay our hotel bill. That scenario sounds terrifying, and it happens more than most people might think.
What went wrong? Occasionally, the thing that went wrong was completely out of our control. Our wallet, passport, and watch were stolen. With all our credit cards in the wallet, we have no way of withdrawing money, and who remembers the customer service phone number in microscopic print on the back side of the card? A text message from our phone (if that wasn’t stolen as well) can get us help from back home.
Our own bad choices may leave us in a similar situation if we’re not careful. The most insidious problem is being seduced into extravagance because of the voluminous exchange rate in a foreign country. It gives us the illusion that things are so cheap that we can toss money around like basketballs because for $100 US currency we walked out of the ATM booth with a fist full of local bills. We’re still thinking in dollars, however. So when we see something that’s for sale at 1,100 (local) money and we calculate that it’s only $20 in our own currency we jump at the bargain. What we fail to realize is that we’re not buying in dollars, so the money we pay is a good chunk out of the fistful we picked up at the ATM. Still thinking in dollars, we smugly rationalize we can return to the money machine and get more.
Traveling at home presents an entirely different set off problems which often originate in the careless use of credit cards. Without careful monitoring, it is altogether too easy to max out a credit card. There a few sinking feelings more unnerving than having the hotel receptionist hand us back our card and say, “I’m sorry, this card has been denied. Please give me another one.” Now, putting all the travel expenses on a credit card is not a bad idea, provided you’ve budgeted wisely and don’t exceed your credit limit. Paying by plastic, you have a good record of all your expenses on the trip.
Careful money management on a trip can make the difference between “the time of your life” and “the vacation from hell.”