Budgeting Tips For First-Time Overseas Travelers

Hi all,

Today we have a guest post for you from Jon Dela Cruz over at iCompareFX. Jon will be sharing his top budgeting tips for first-time overseas travelers.

This article has some great ideas that can save you a bunch of money on your first overseas vacation.

If you’re heading off on an international trip soon, we hope you enjoy this article and pick up some useful budgeting tips to help you prepare for your travel.

10 Budgeting Tips For First-Time International Travelers

You don’t need an exorbitant amount of money to take your first overseas vacation. Look at people arriving at just about any international airport, and you will notice that there are way more tourists with regular backpacks than ones carrying bags sporting names such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi, or Gucci. What this goes to show is that you don’t need a big bank balance to sip on a beer sitting at a distant coast or soak in the sunset across the hills someplace far away.

If you’re unsure about how to get your finances in order, going through the tips that follow might be in your best interest.

1. Formulate A Plan

Taking off on a spontaneous trip is not a luxury that everyone has, given that making last-minute flight and hotel reservations tend to come at a premium. If you plan to travel on a budget, it is crucial that you begin by coming up with a plan. This does not imply that you need to make a detailed itinerary. However, you should have an indication of how many days you plan to spend in any given place as well as how and when you plan to travel. Doing so gets you one step closer to avoiding nasty surprises down the road.

2. Determine How Much It Might Cost

While flight tickets are typically the biggest expense, the money you spend toward accommodation can account for a tidy sum as well. Fortunately, you can come by several websites that give you insight about how much money you might need when holidaying in different places, depending on whether you wish to travel on a shoestring or a mid-range budget.

Even when traveling to countries in the same neighborhood, you might need to budget your holiday depending on exactly where you’re going. For instance, a trip to Singapore would end up costing considerably more than a trip to Malaysia or Thailand.

Your budget also needs to account for meal costs, the money you might spend when visiting local attractions, as well as money spent on local transportation. Account for a few unexpected expenses, or you might end up missing out on some great sights and experiences.

3. Think Insurance

If you think you cannot afford travel insurance, you might want to reconsider your plan to travel overseas. While travel insurance comes at an added cost, it also provides that all important peace of mind. With reliable travel insurance, you receive cover against lost luggage, missed and canceled flights, as well as medical expenses.

4. Choose The Right Type Of Accommodation

If you’re traveling alone or with friends, consider staying at hostels as opposed to hotels. Even if you’re traveling with family, you may look for hostels that provide independent rooms. Hostels have evolved considerably in recent years, giving travelers access to clean accommodation with a range of amenities at rather affordable prices. What helps is that user-ratings give you an indication of the service levels you may expect from any given hostel. Online platforms such as Hostelworld.com and Hostels.com give you the ability to look for hostels from different parts of the world.

If you can stay with friends or family members for part of your trip, it is definitely an option worth considering.

5. Don’t Travel In Peak Season

School holidays are typically looked upon as the sunshine period for the tourism industry when it hopes to make the most amount of hay. Prices are usually inflated to capitalize on families who have little other option than to travel during these periods.

This is also the case with places that get too hot, too cold, or too rainy during any particular time of the year. When the weather is favorable, prices remain high, and the reverse holds true as well. As a result, travel just before or after the peak season. This way, you benefit by getting reasonably good weather without having to shell out extra money.

6. Book Flight Tickets Ahead Of Time

Prices of flight tickets, especially to and from popular destinations, tend to increase closer to departure dates, all the more so during the last month. Since you can book flight tickets up to a year in advance, it makes sense to get this out of the way as soon as you finalize your plan. It is important that you book return tickets because it is a legal requirement in some countries. Besides, you don’t want to get stuck in a foreign land without the money to get yourself a flight ticket home.

Flying economy is the obvious choice when traveling on a budget unless you get a free upgrade. Prices for flights during weekends are typically more expensive when compared to weekday flights. If you’re traveling light, you might save some money by booking tickets that allow only hand baggage.

7. Use Local Currency

How much money you might need in the form of cash depends on where you plan to go. For instance, some regions in Asia, Africa, and South America still rely on cash for most everyday transactions. Consider buying some local currency before you leave your home country. This way, you do not have to spend time looking for a suitable currency exchange bureau to exchange your money. Avoid exchanging money through hotel concierges as they tend to provide less-than-favorable rates. You may want to spend all the local currency you have before you depart unless you don’t mind losing some money during another exchange.

8. Use Cards In The Right Manner

You might require a chip-enabled card depending on the country you plan to visit. For instance, you will have little to no luck in using a card with just a magnetic strip almost everywhere in Europe. Visa and Mastercard have extensive ATM networks the world over, and they are widely accepted by merchants. American Express cards are not accepted as commonly, and you will be hard pressed in finding businesses that accept Diners Club and Discover cards.

Using a debit card is typically more cost-effective than using a credit card. If you do plan to use a credit card, consider getting one that does not charge international transaction fees. Avoid using a credit card to withdraw money from an ATM. This is because you will need to pay a cash advance fees as well as interest, which starts accumulating from the day of the withdrawal.

If you don’t plan to travel extensively, you don’t really need a multi-currency card. These cards come with different types of fees such as issuance fees, loading fees, ATM fees, foreign exchange fees, balance refund fees, and inactivity fees.

9. Communicate Sensibly

If you do not have to stay in regular touch with friends or family back home, you might not need a local SIM card or an international roaming plan. You can make do with the free Wi-Fi that you come across at hotels, hostels, and restaurants. If you wish to remain connected at all times, take a look at international roaming plans offered by your existing services provider. Then, compare them with plans offered by service providers in the country you plan to visit.

10. Pay In Advance

An easy way to get rid of the uncertainty surrounding unfavorable exchange rates and fees is to make payments in advance. While you will book your flight tickets ahead of time, you might also consider making payments toward your accommodation before you leave your home country. If you plan to rent a car on your holiday, you can pay for it ahead of time too.


Traveling overseas on a budget is possible, and you can look forward to having a great time as long as you pay attention to a few simple aspects. If you’re up to it, you may even consider picking up a part-time job in the country you’re traveling to or work on freelance assignments to get some extra money. If you’re enterprising enough, you can travel to just about anywhere in the world, and then have great stories to tell.

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