Travel on Point(s)

Travel on Point(s) is an independent, advertising-supported website. This site is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites like Cardratings.com. This compensation does not impact how or where products appear on this site. Travel on Point(s) has not reviewed all available credit card offers on this site. Reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any partner entities.

Travel on Point(s) is an independent, advertising-supported website. This site is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites like Cardratings.com. This compensation does not impact how or where products appear on this site. Travel on Point(s) has not reviewed all available credit card offers on this site. Reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed, or approved by any partner entities.

Tips For Traveling Abroad

Have you been considering becoming an expat and living abroad? There is no doubt that it is something that has become more and more popular. I mean, who doesn't want to be sipping My Thais by the beach for the fraction of the price of doing it at home? Maybe you aren't quite that forward, and you prefer just spending a few months abroad instead. Either way, these 12 tips for traveling abroad will come in handy. Heck, they are good tips for general travel anywhere really.

These great tips for traveling abroad are brought to you by ToP Facebook Group member Alex Cassidy. A big thank you to Alex for sharing his knowledge after spending over a decade living abroad.

1. Bank Smart with Charles Schwab

Our first tip for living abroad is that a Charles Schwab checking account is your golden ticket to saving on withdrawal fees worldwide. Despite the sparse physical locations, and the hoop of opening a free investor account, the effort pays off. You can transfer funds easily from your primary bank, but remember, transfers take about five days. For convenience, keep a buffer amount to avoid carrying large sums of cash. The perk? Unlimited ATM fee rebates globally. For more information on this account you can check out Ben's write up on the Charles Schwab Debit Card.

There are a few other similar options as well.

Tips For Traveling Abroad

2. Make Sure You Have A No Foreign Transactions Fee Card

Another tip for travel abroad is to opt for credit cards that don't charge foreign transaction fees. Check your card terms before you travel and organize your wallet accordingly to avoid unnecessary conversion fees.

Editor's Note:

Some of ToP's favorite cards for this are the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve. They offer good travel protections and have no foreign transaction fees. Earning bonus points on travel is icing on the cake too.

3. Make Sure The Charge Is Always Processed In Local Currency

When using your card that adheres to tip 2 while living / traveling abroad, always opt to pay in the local currency on card terminals. Choosing to pay in USD often includes a hefty conversion fee from the local bank managing the terminal. This is a mistake that cost me thousands over the years. Learn from my misadventure and save money on your purchases.

4. Gold Coins Can Come In Handy (Tips For Traveling Abroad)

While gold coins seems like a weird tip for living abroad, stick with me here. For those venturing off the beaten path, carrying a small gold coin might sound archaic but can be a literal lifesaver in dire situations. This is a tip from a seasoned expat, who went to some hairy places, and it is meant for extreme circumstances. They recommended something like 1/10 or ¼ ounce depending on the area you are going to. Most people reading will probably never leave the road more traveled, but, if you do, remember this tip for traveling abroad.

5. Never Pay Roaming

Next up on our 12 tips for traveling abroad is to never pay roaming overseas. Google Fi offers an economical alternative to expensive roaming charges, with coverage in most parts of the globe. It’s particularly useful for short stays, whereas local SIM cards are more economical for longer visits.

Tips For Traveling Abroad

6. Always Count Your Change When Paying With Cash

Halfway through our list of tips for living, or traveling, abroad is to always double check your change. Tourists are easy targets for shortchanging, a simple but often overlooked precaution. Many times they just assume you won't raise a commotion and will let it go. Simply bringing awareness to the situation is all that is needed.

7. Download Some Currency Conversion Apps

Use apps like XE for real-time currency conversion, rounding off to the nearest whole number for quick, mental calculations. Another good app for traveling abroad is Time Buddy which is excellent for managing different time zones.

8. Don't Be Afraid Of Positioning Flights (Tips For Traveling Abroad)

Next up on our tips for traveling abroad is to be flexible with your travel plans. Sometimes, flying to a nearby destination and then taking a local carrier to your final destination can save you significant money or points. Creativity in planning can unlock big savings. For more information on positioning flights check out Derrick's full write up.

Tips For Traveling Abroad

9. Consider A Passport Card

When renewing your passport, getting a passport card might seem redundant, but it can expedite passport replacement and save you a lot of time at U.S. embassies or consulates abroad. Obviously keep it in a different location than your passport when traveling.

10. Sign Up For STEP (Tips For Traveling Abroad)

No, my 10th tip for traveling abroad is not to get a Fitbit for step counting. STEP stands for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. It is a free service that keeps you informed about safety conditions in your destination country. Information like this will help you make informed decisions about your travel plans and updating you on civil unrest in places where you don’t speak the language.

11. Consider Getting Vaccinated Upon Arrival

Sometimes, getting vaccinated upon arrival in your host country can be drastically cheaper than at home, without compromising on quality. Urban areas are safe, so getting your shots in the city before you head out into the bush should be fine. 

12. Embrace The Journey With An Open Heart

The last of the tips for traveling abroad, and maybe most important, is that patience and respect go a long way. You are a guest in another country, so embrace the differences with grace. As you step into new lands, smile, nod, and carry a spirit of patience. Remember, you're the visitor in a vast tapestry of culture, history, and unique societal norms. Resist the urge to critically compare every difference to what you're accustomed to back home. Acknowledge that the essence of travel is to experience the world in its splendid diversity. Service standards, dining customs, queue etiquette, and social interactions may vastly differ—and that's precisely the beauty of exploration. Let go of expectations and immerse yourself in the moment.

Tips For Traveling Abroad: Alex's Final Thoughts

As I gear up for my next journey from Nepal to Thailand, I carry with me a sense of adventure and a mantra of acceptance. Namaste, and may these insights enrich your travels, saving you time, money, and fostering unforgettable experiences.

Special thanks to the TOP team for all the amazing work you guys do!

Editor's Notes

Thank you Alex for sharing your wisdom, and experience, that you have lived while living and traveling abroad for over a decade. We appreciate you lending us the knowledge you have picked up along the way, including some that you learned the hard way.

What is your favorite of the 12 tips for living abroad? Let us know over in the ToP Facebook Group.

SIGN UP TO RECEIVE
ToP TIPS STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX

We promise to keep things short, sweet, and packed with awesome insights!