Stress Free Check List 3

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Saving for Side Trips

I don’t save for emergencies on a trip – I work up a credit rating (spending on credit but wiping the card every month so I’m not paying interest), and carry insurance- if I have an emergency I can pay on the card and the insurance will reimburse me. And if it’s something super expensive- intensive care or something- the insurance kicks in straight away. 

I don’t think of saving for side trips as a separate budget from the main trip planning. If I was going to Europe for a week, I would do a bit of research into the average prices of things I fancied doing and add a bit onto each day’s budget (so if the hotel is £30 and food will be maybe £15 I’ll add a £10 saving target a day on for entrance fees, trains, etc). Obviously you have days when you walk about and don’t spend that extra money, so you can do the more expensive trip because two or three quiet days’ money adds together for the big side trip. And if there’s something really major I want to do (say I went to Vegas and wanted to see the Grand Canyon), I would have researched that and maybe even pre-booked it from the start, so I would have budgeted it in. 

Shopping it helps to come from the uk; almost everywhere I go is cheaper by comparison. So how I budget depends on what I am buying. If it’s something I would have to buy anyway- clothes, Christmas presents for people- it comes out of that budget and I’m probably saving money overall. If it’s just a present for myself, like a book about the wildlife somewhere I went or yet another new handbag, then it comes out of my budget underspend for other items (say I budgeted £50 for a hotel in a city but found a great place for £30 for two nights; £40 total shopping and side trip.

Dealing with Currencies

Large withdrawals at ATMs. My bank has ok fees and a decent exchange rate, and by the time I’ve counted the hassle of doing anything else and the hours it would take me to mess about with anything more complicated, ATM wins. If I absolutely need cash on arrival, for a visa or something, I use the local post office- there’s no point spending a whole hour and a £3 bus ride going to get a better exchange rate if the better exchange rate only gives you £2.97 more in currency!

ATM all the way!

Years ago currency exchange was a big deal.  Nepal is the only place I’ve had to bring cash to exchange in a long time.

FWIW in I’ve found that in Iceland I could have done the entire trip with no cash at all.  CC terminals are all pervasive here.

Depending on how many business accept Visa in the country you are traveling a Travel Rewards type of credit card is a good option as well.  I have a Bank of America Travel Rewards card (you may not be able to get one of these in Canada, but I am sure there is a bank with a similar option in Canada).  It has zero foreign currency transaction fees and I get TRIPLE points on any purchases made in other countries as well as on flight and hotel bookings.  Most places accept Visa so I bring that and a small amount of cash with me.

Snacks on Trip

I often fly with a supply of peppermints, which make me feel a tiny bit better if I get nauseous (I think it’s pure placebo but as long as it works it works!). Beyond that, I don’t really miss snacks much on most trips. After about two months I start missing British chocolate (it’s obviously not great by international standards but it tastes of home) and Ribena (black currant juice concentrate), and I used to miss Irn bru (a sort of soda) buy I’ve weaned myself off that now.  But discovering local snacks is part of the experience on the trip. I can’t always predict which ones I’ll like ( dried squid jerky- surprisingly good…) and I’m not a huge snacker on trips but I’ll see what’s going.
Granola Bars and Nuts are a must. I always carry a carton of chocolate soya milk and a stash of Yorkshire Tea teabags!

I usually like to bring dried fruit on the plane to snack on during the movies I watch in-flight. I usually finish the bag so I won’t have to throw it away when I land in a different country. 

As far as checked luggage, when I travel abroad I like to bring a few big bags Dum Dum lollipops and keep a few in my pocket for when I encounter kids on my journeys. I volunteer a lot so if I’m teaching English, it’s a great reward (and I instantly become everyone’s favorite!).

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