How to be Financially Savvy on Your Next Overseas Holiday

Going on holiday is a great way to spice up the monotony of everyday life, reduce your stress levels, and well, just get away from it all…however holidays can turn stressful if you don’t watch your budget. You might not feel the financial strain when sunbaking on a yacht in the Caribbean or sipping cocktails pool-side in Vegas, but you will feel it once you return home to a maxed out bank account of credit card.

Caribbean Isle
Caribbean Isle


There are a few things you can do to avoid financial pitfalls of over-spending on vacation. The first thing to do before going on a holiday is to decide where you are staying. If you are planning on staying in one location for a period of more than a week, it may work out cheaper to rent a house or apartment than staying in a hotel (especially if there are more than two of you travelling).


Another way to help save money while on vacation is to think about how to maximise the money you have to spend; for example, by knowing the currency exchange rates before arriving at your destination. It would also be wise to check which foreign exchange services offer the best rates before deciding to have your money exchanged. If carrying around a large amount of cash worries you, order a travel card from a bank or other travel or financial institution. These cards can be used like a credit/debit card, but the rates for using them are usually lower than the rate you are charged every time you use your credit or debit card overseas. Also remember to advise your bank of the dates you will be travelling. This will avoid a situation where your bank mistakenly blocks your credit and ATM cards after seeing ‘unnatural’ transactions being done from a foreign location—something they do to avoid suspected frauds.


Sightseeing is going to be major part of your vacation once you reach your destination. Prior to leaving your accommodation, get a map, sit down for a few minutes and circle all the main places you want to go. It would be a waste of money if you end up taking a taxi when you could have taken a walk to your destination instead. As for renting cars, be mindful of hiring larger models – they chew up more gas and you may end up spending more on fuel than you expected. Another transportation issue you can consider is to stay away from airport taxis. Hiring a taxi at the airport always cost more than flagging one down on the street. You’re better off walking outside of the airport and finding a taxi from there.


All that sightseeing, travelling and exploring will definitely give you a big appetite. Working out a rough daily spend for food beforehand will help you stick to your budget and avoid that nasty feeling of being left with no money at the end of your holiday. If you’ve rented a house or serviced apartment, another option is to cook a few meals of your own. Cooking may be the last thing you want to do on your holiday but it will prove comparably cheaper than eating out; plus it’ll be a change to cooking at home, you’ll have all new ingredients and can try out a new way of cooking!


Aside from transportation and meals, you are bound to go shopping. Just remember that you may be getting bargains on the items you buy but if you exceed your  airline baggage allowance, you will end up paying a hefty price per kg to send your new items home and they may end up costing you double what you payed! However if your bags do end up being overweight (ask the accommodation you are staying at if they have a scale to ensure you know your bags are overweight before you arrive at the airport), then the cheapest way to send your luggage home is to use a specialised excess baggage company which will charge a fraction of what the airlines do. There are also customs duties to consider and the laws of importing  prohibited items into the country such as certain woods, seeds and other materials. Knowing customs duties on the items you want to purchase, and if they are even allowed to be imported will save you a lot of hassle and money.

These are just some of the things you should consider before opening your wallet on your overseas holiday. It is important to remember however, that the most important part of your vacation is to chill out, unwind and enjoy yourself – and if you can do this and still have some money left when you return home – even better!

Photo 1: Franco Caruzzo


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