One of the hardest things to do before going on a trip overseas is deciding on an answer to the question: “how much money should I bring with me?”. Bring too little, and you might need to use an ATM, with their often hefty fees; bring too much, and you risk having cash leftover that you may never be able to use again. How do you strike the right balance? Read on for our tips on how to navigate this tricky dilemma.
Do Your Research
If you want to have any hope of knowing how much money you’re going to need on your trip, you’ve first got to do your research. Search online to get a sense of how much things are going to cost (our travel guides, cost guide, and Rate Watch are great resources to check out!). Your flight/train/bus tickets, as well as accommodation, are all things that can be booked ahead, which means you won’t need to worry about bringing cash for those transactions.
Instead, check out things like what you want to see and do while there and what and where you want to eat. If you discover a local market or bazaar you would like to visit, be sure to factor in the potential cost of anything you might have in mind to buy. There’s a good chance most merchants will only accept cash.
Set A Budget
Once you’ve decided on what you want to do on your trip, you can start to make a budget. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but setting down day by day how much you plan to spend on food and attractions (and keeping this number in your head for your trip), is a great move to make. It’ll not only give you a basis for the money you will need to bring with you, but also help you to keep your spending in check on your travels.
Making a budget can also help you to form a rough itinerary. Again, it doesn’t need to be set in stone, but acknowledging the fact that certain items on your list will cost more and trying to distribute them over the duration of your visit will give you some idea of what to do each day. Need some more info on budgeting? Check out our tips on how to travel on a student budget!
Decide Your Transactions in Advance
Doing your research and setting a budget are both key steps in answering the question: “how much money should I bring on my trip?”. But once you’ve made yourself a rough budget, there is one last step that can really be of use: deciding on your transactions in advance. Sit down, look at your budget, and strategize. Which transactions are you going to want to, or need to, pay in cash, and which ones can you afford to use your card?
Keep in mind, that credit card transactions will be subject to conversion fees at oftentimes less than ideal rates. So using cash for most of your transactions might be a good idea. Certainly, for things like street food and cafes, cash can be a more optimal form of paying. Especially if you are travelling in a part of the world where cards are not yet commonplace.
Bring More Cash Than You Think You’ll Need
While instinctively you might be inclined to be conservative with the amount of cash you bring abroad, generally people spend more than they think they will on trips. With that in mind, it’s never a bad idea to buy more in the initial exchange to spare you the trouble and expense of taking money out of an ATM overseas. If you’re worried about having a bunch of foreign money left over when you get home though, don’t be! If you’d rather not hold on to it for the next trip, you can come back and visit us at your local Continental branch! We’ll buy back any leftover banknotes you want to trade back for CAD at our great rates. We even accept 1 and 2 GBP and EUR coins!
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