Travel Money Guide

Travelling is an exciting experience, but it can also be expensive. One of the most important things to consider when planning a trip is how to manage your money. Unfortunately, many people make mistakes that end up costing them more than they anticipated. In this article, we will explore 10 common travel money mistakes to avoid.

The first mistake that many travellers make is not researching the local currency before they go. It’s important to know the exchange rate and the value of the local currency so that you can budget accordingly. Another mistake is relying solely on credit cards or debit cards. While they are convenient, they often come with high fees and exchange rates. It’s a good idea to have a mix of cash and cards when travelling.

Another common mistake is not notifying your bank or credit card company that you will be travelling. If they see transactions in a foreign country, they may assume that your card has been stolen and freeze your account. This can be a major inconvenience, especially if you don’t have access to another form of payment. By following these tips and avoiding common mistakes, you can save money and have a stress-free travel experience.

Failing to Budget for Your Trip

One of the biggest mistakes travellers make is not budgeting for their trip. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of planning and booking a trip, but failing to consider the costs can lead to overspending and financial stress.

To avoid this mistake, it’s important to create a budget before you go. Consider all the expenses you’ll incur, including flights, accommodation, food, transportation, activities, and souvenirs. Research the average costs for each item in your destination and factor in any currency exchange rates.

Once you have a budget, stick to it as closely as possible. Avoid impulse purchases and consider cheaper alternatives for activities or meals. Keep track of your spending throughout your trip to ensure you’re staying within your budget.

Remember, a little bit of planning and budgeting can go a long way in making your trip stress-free and enjoyable.

Ignoring Exchange Rate Fluctuations

When travelling abroad, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the exchange rate. Ignoring exchange rate fluctuations can lead to unnecessary expenses and can impact your overall travel budget. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:

Not Monitoring Exchange Rates

Failing to keep an eye on exchange rates can be a costly mistake. Exchange rates can fluctuate rapidly, and failing to monitor them can lead to missed opportunities to exchange currency at a more favourable rate.

To avoid this mistake, travellers should use a reliable currency converter app or website to keep track of exchange rates. It is also a good idea to check exchange rates regularly, especially before exchanging large amounts of money.

Exchanging Money at Airports

Exchanging money at airports is convenient, but it can be a costly mistake. Airport exchange bureaus often charge high fees and offer unfavourable exchange rates.

To avoid this mistake, travellers should exchange money before arriving at the airport. Banks and reputable currency exchange providers usually offer better rates and lower fees. It is also a good idea to research exchange rates in advance to ensure that you are getting a fair deal.

Ignoring exchange rate fluctuations can be a costly mistake for travellers. By monitoring exchange rates and avoiding exchanging money at airports, travellers can save money and make the most of their travel budget.

Overlooking Bank Fees and Charges

Travelling abroad can be expensive, and the last thing you want is to be hit with unexpected bank fees and charges. Here are two common mistakes to avoid:

Using Cards with High Foreign Transaction Fees

When travelling abroad, it’s important to use a card that doesn’t charge high foreign transaction fees. These fees can quickly add up and eat into your travel budget. Before you go, make sure to research which cards offer the lowest fees for international purchases. Some cards even offer no foreign transaction fees at all.

Withdrawing Cash Without Checking Fees

It’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand when travelling, but withdrawing cash from an ATM can come with hefty fees. Many banks charge a flat fee for each withdrawal, as well as a percentage of the amount withdrawn. Before you withdraw cash, make sure to check the fees charged by your bank and the ATM provider. It may be worth withdrawing larger amounts less frequently to minimise fees.

By being aware of these common bank fees and charges, travellers can save money and avoid unnecessary expenses on their trips.

Carrying Too Much Cash

Carrying too much cash while travelling can be a major mistake. Not only does it make you a target for theft, but it can also lead to overspending and unnecessary fees.

To avoid carrying too much cash, consider using a pre-paid travel card or a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. These options offer added security and convenience while travelling.

If you do need to carry cash, be sure to keep it in a safe place and only carry what you need for the day. It’s also a good idea to split your cash between different locations, such as your wallet, a money belt, and your luggage, to reduce the risk of losing it all at once.

Overall, carrying too much cash can be a costly mistake while travelling. By using alternative payment methods and being mindful of how much cash you carry, you can help protect yourself and your finances while on the go.

Relying Solely on Credit Cards

Travelling with just a credit card can be convenient, but it can also be risky. Here are some mistakes to avoid when relying solely on credit cards:

Not Having a Backup Payment Method

While credit cards are widely accepted, there may be times when they are not accepted or may not work due to technical issues. It is important to have a backup payment method such as cash or a debit card to avoid being stranded without any means of payment.

Unaware of Credit Card Limitations Abroad

Credit cards may come with limitations when used abroad, such as foreign transaction fees, dynamic currency conversion fees, and daily withdrawal limits. It is important to research and understand these limitations before travelling to avoid unexpected charges and inconveniences.

To avoid these travel money mistakes, it is recommended to carry a mix of payment methods and to research and understand the limitations and fees associated with each method.

Neglecting Travel Insurance

Travelling without proper insurance coverage is a common mistake that many travellers make. Neglecting travel insurance can lead to significant financial losses, especially if you encounter any unexpected situations such as medical emergencies, cancellations, or theft.

Without travel insurance, you may end up paying for expensive medical bills or losing money due to cancellations or delays. Moreover, you may also face legal issues in some countries if you do not have adequate insurance coverage.

To avoid this mistake, it is essential to purchase travel insurance that covers all your needs. Before buying insurance, make sure to read the policy carefully and understand what it covers and what it does not. Also, consider purchasing insurance from a reputable company that has good reviews and a strong reputation.

In summary, neglecting travel insurance can be a costly mistake. It is crucial to purchase the right insurance coverage to protect yourself from any unexpected situations that may arise during your travels.

Forgetting to Inform Your Bank

Travelling overseas is exciting, but it can also lead to unexpected financial issues. One of the most common travel money mistakes is forgetting to inform your bank that you will be travelling.

When you use your credit or debit card abroad, your bank’s fraud prevention systems may flag your transactions as suspicious. This can result in your card being blocked, leaving you without access to your funds.

To avoid this, it is essential to inform your bank of your travel plans. This can usually be done online or by calling the bank’s customer service. Provide them with the dates and destinations of your trip so that they can make a note on your account.

It is also a good idea to check with your bank about any fees or charges that may apply when using your card overseas. Some banks charge foreign transaction fees or ATM withdrawal fees, which can add up quickly. Knowing these fees in advance can help you budget your travel expenses more effectively.

In addition to informing your bank, it is also recommended to carry a backup payment method, such as a prepaid travel card or cash. This can come in handy if your card is blocked or lost while travelling.

By taking these simple steps, you can avoid the hassle and stress of blocked cards and unexpected fees, and enjoy your travels with peace of mind.

Falling for Tourist Scams

Travellers often fall prey to tourist scams while exploring new destinations. These scams can range from simple pickpocketing to elaborate schemes that involve fake tour guides or taxi drivers. Being aware of these scams can help travellers avoid losing money or becoming victims of theft.

One common scam is the fake tour guide. Scammers often pose as tour guides and offer to take tourists on a tour of the city. They may even have fake credentials to make themselves appear legitimate. Once the tour is over, the scammer will demand an exorbitant fee, leaving the tourist with no choice but to pay up.

Another common scam is the fake taxi driver. Scammers may pose as taxi drivers and offer to take tourists to their destination. Once the tourist is in the car, the scammer will take them on a longer route than necessary or even drive them to a different location altogether. The scammer will then demand an inflated fare, leaving the tourist with no choice but to pay up.

To avoid falling for these scams, travellers should do their research before arriving at their destination. They should be aware of the local customs and laws, and should avoid carrying large amounts of cash or valuables. Travellers should also be cautious when accepting offers from strangers, and should always use a reputable taxi or tour company.

By staying vigilant and being aware of common tourist scams, travellers can enjoy their trip without falling victim to theft or fraud.

Not Keeping Track of Spending

Travelling can be an expensive affair, and it’s easy to get carried away with all the excitement and new experiences. However, not keeping track of your spending can lead to financial troubles and can quickly turn a dream vacation into a nightmare. Here are two common mistakes to avoid when it comes to tracking your travel expenses.

Lack of Daily Budget Management

One of the biggest mistakes travellers make is not managing their daily budget. It’s essential to set a daily budget for your trip and stick to it. This will help you keep track of your expenses and ensure that you don’t overspend. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of your daily expenses, either in a notebook or a budgeting app, so that you can see where your money is going.

Not Reviewing Bank Statements Regularly

Another mistake that travellers make is not reviewing their bank statements regularly. It’s important to keep an eye on your bank account to make sure that there are no unauthorised transactions or errors. If you notice any suspicious activity, you should contact your bank immediately. Reviewing your bank statements can also help you identify any unnecessary expenses and adjust your budget accordingly.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can stay on top of your travel expenses and enjoy your trip without worrying about your finances.

Misunderstanding Duty-Free Shopping

Travellers often assume that duty-free shopping is always the best way to save money on luxury items, but this is not always the case. Duty-free prices may be lower than the retail prices in your home country, but they may not be the lowest available price.

One common mistake is assuming that all duty-free shops offer the same prices. In reality, prices can vary significantly from one duty-free shop to another. It’s important to compare prices across different shops and do some research before making a purchase.

Another mistake is assuming that duty-free prices are always cheaper than local prices. This is not always true, especially for items that are not heavily taxed in your home country. In some cases, local prices may be lower than duty-free prices, so it’s important to compare prices before making a purchase.

Travellers should also be aware that duty-free shops may have restrictions on the amount of items that can be purchased. Some countries have limits on the amount of duty-free items that can be brought back into the country, so it’s important to check the regulations before making a purchase.

Overall, duty-free shopping can be a great way to save money on luxury items while travelling, but it’s important to do some research and compare prices before making a purchase.


Jason is the founder of Compare Travel Cash, and has worked in the financial industry for the majority of his career.