Managing your money whilst you are travelling can be quite tricky. How much cash should you take? Where do you keep it? What do you do if it gets stolen? Here’s a guide to some strategies you may want to use to help reduce any money worries whilst exploring the world.

*This article is intended to be used and must be used for entertainment and informational purposes only. It is very important that you conduct your own research before making any financial decisions based on your own personal circumstances. You should take independent financial advice from a professional in connection with, or independently research and verify, any information that you find on this website and wish to rely upon, or otherwise. Please refer to our full terms and conditions.

A globe, money and a phone

  1. Before you go

There are some great tips on saving money, making money as well as boosting your travel funds which will help you with your budget. If you need personalised help with financing your travels, contact Annie for a free thirty minute Skype call or chat.

Depending on which country you live and bank in and where you are heading to will make a difference to how you can best handle your money.

If you are going to multiple countries over a long period, you need a strategy to be able to get hold of money where you are going. You will need to plan around when you are near facilities if you are heading off into the wilderness or places with limited cash access points. If you are heading off to somewhere for a relatively short time, it’s a lot easier to manage.

Unless you are using any of the ways to travel for free, it can be useful to pay for most of your expenditure in advance using a credit card. Transport, accommodation, tours, entrance fees etc., can often be booked before you leave, meaning you have already paid for most of the trip. This helps with reducing the amount of cash you need to carry, plus how much you need to budget for can then be easier. Depending on your agreement, purchases on a credit card can also be reimbursed for certain issues you may have, so check the terms and conditions.

For example, I bank in the UK and the best way to manage my money when travelling around the world for 363 days was by using a credit card that had no transaction fees. I was mainly visiting countries that had lots of working ATMs but if I was heading to one that didn’t have as many available cash machines I would take out extra for that part of the journey. I always kept some British Pound Sterling as an emergency back up, as I knew this would be accepted in the countries I was travelling to. I had two back-up cards in case the main card got lost, stolen or chewed up by the machine plus a physical photocopy stored in a separate place to the cards, a photo of them emailed to myself and insurance.

However, when I travelled to Europe for a two week trip I took a prepaid card, which I could load before I left and top up using an app on my phone. I knew I was going to a country where there was good free wifi in almost everywhere, including my accommodation and that cards were accepted for most transactions. I still took some Euros in cash for some transport and rural spots, but I could also withdraw from ATMs using the pre-loaded card if need be. I still took photocopies plus the no fee credit card as a backup and had adequate insurance.

An exciting picture of credit cards

The best advice is to keep up to date with trusted websites, such as moneysavingexpert.com and Travelex that have all the most current information for you on which method has the best rates. If you need to apply for a card, do so well in advance of your travel and make sure you read all the terms and conditions associated with the agreement you are signing up to.

It’s also important to take out adequate insurance, which includes cover for cash and cards. Look at the fine details and how much cash the insurance covers, as well as how they will help you if you get robbed, lose your purse to the ocean or have an emergency situation. World Nomads is a great place to start, check out their offers here.

It can be helpful to take some cash in a ‘universal’ currency, such as US Dollars, which can be exchanged into local currency in most countries. Again, keep this separate from your main wallet.

Finally, jump online and buy a travel wallet or a secret stash item – something that looks exactly like a can of deodorant or hairbrush but has a concealed compartment where you can hide money. They are cheap and can be very useful.

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If you need travel advice, request a free 30 minute coaching session. In the chat Annie will help you choose a destination, create your itinerary and review safety precautions. Or she can discuss how you can incorporate more travel into your life by saving, making money, travelling for free or being paid to travel.

A wonderful display of a spread of Euro notes
2. Where to store your money

Unfortunately no particular method of storing your money is completely safe. Personally I tend to stay somewhere that is either 100% safe for me to store my cash or I carry it with me in a travel money belt.

Sometimes I leave cash in a hotel safe or a secret stash item but always make a note of how much is in there, and I am prepared for it to be possibly stolen – even deodorant has disappeared from locked rooms before….

I also usually bring my cards along with me, keeping the ‘backup’ one hidden at the accommodation. I have found it much easier to use the cards than to be needing to pay cash for everything and then finding an ATM, but again you must research the best offers for your circumstances and make your own choice.

I take a fake wallet with me (a small purse I can pull out of my bag with some small change and expired credit cards in it), just in case someone tries to rob me I can give them something.

An amazing illustration of budgeting featuring a calculator, pen and paper plus some cash for the wow factor
3. Budgeting

There are many ways to find out the average cost of a trip before you leave. Investigating restaurants and reading the menus, researching travel passes and fares, looking up entrance fees and activities are usually available online. If you have an idea of how much you want to spend each day, depending on whether you like to indulge in luxury or prefer many of the different ways you can experience somewhere for free, then you can judge how much you need to budget. Add a little extra for snacks, drinks, gifts and unexpected costs, such as a taxi ride if you miss the last bus!

4. Tipping, taxes and fees

The culture of leaving or not leaving a tip depends on where you are visiting. For example, in some countries people in the service industry are not very well paid and depend on tips to make up their wages, and therefore tipping is expected. In other countries tipping is not part of the culture and can been seen as rude, unless given in the appropriate customary manner. It can also be automatically added to bills in some places, whether you received good service or not, so check the menu and bill before you add any extra. You can also ask for this to be taken off if you feel the establishment does not deserve a tip based on your experience. Take some time to do a quick search as to the etiquette required, and if tipping is the norm, keep a hold of small change for such circumstances and budget for it.

There can be various taxes that are added to your bill at the end of your stay, for example ‘tourist taxes’ for hotel stays meeting certain criteria or when you purchase something, which is then added when you get to the point of purchase. Always check if there are any additional charges and what the rates are. This can vary between states and places within a country.

Sometimes there can also be fees to pay when you exit a country, unless this is already paid for as part of your tour or airline ticket. It is a good idea to look into any charges that are applicable to tourists and what the charges are, as even officials can look to make extra cash from those who are unaware of how this works.

Like this post? Subscribe to the Soulful Travel newsletter for Annie’s packing checklist plus travel related advice, news, competitions and more. Sign up here.

If you need travel advice, request a free 30 minute coaching session. In the chat Annie will help you choose a destination, create your itinerary and review safety precautions. Or she can discuss how you can incorporate more travel into your life by saving, making money, travelling for free or being paid to travel.

money, map, camera, cactus, sorted

5. What to do if your money gets lost or stolen

If you have taken out adequate insurance and have some forms of backup, then you have already cushioned the blow. You need to phone your bank and get any stolen cards blocked so they cannot be used by anyone else. If you have been robbed, go to the local authorities and make a formal report with a case number. Then phone your insurance company with the case number and they are best advised on how they can help you with the situation. This is where the copies of all of your cards, passport and driving licence that you have with you or can retrieve online will come in handy.

If you do not have adequate insurance, have had all of your local currency and universal currency stolen, as well as all of your cards, then report the crime to the authorities, get a case number and head to your embassy or high commission for advice.

You can ask someone to send you money via a money transfer service, if you still have your I.D. or can have it transferred to someone you are travelling with.

6. What to do with your leftover money

If you do have any leftover cash following your trip you have a number of options. If you have quite a lot of cash you can exchange it back into your own currency before you leave, however if you are definitely planning on travelling to or returning to a country that uses the same currency you may want to hold onto it. Be aware that some currencies are not allowed to be taken out of the country and others can be hard to exchange when you return home, so check this out.

If you only have small change, many airlines collect the spare cash and donate it to local charities. Do find out how much is actually given to which charities, and whether those charities are performing well before you hand it in. Alternatively you can ‘gift’ it to your host or someone that may have been very helpful to you during your travels.

finally, the money shot - coins

Managing your money whilst travelling can be a lot easier with some simple research, planning ahead and careful consideration. Put some insurance, backup and security measures in place, add some budgeting and you will be much more comfortable with your finances.

Like this post? Subscribe to the Soulful Travel newsletter for Annie’s packing checklist plus travel related advice, news, competitions and more. Sign up here.

If you need travel advice, request a free 30 minute coaching session. In the chat Annie will help you choose a destination, create your itinerary and review safety precautions. Or she can discuss how you can incorporate more travel into your life by saving, making money, travelling for free or being paid to travel.