With the dollar at an all time high, there's never been a better time than now to consider vacationing abroad to get the best value for your buck. Here are some great ways to stretch and save your travel dollar on vacation even further:
1. Use pre-paid cards
Loading a prepaid card with US dollars, Sterling or Euros before travelling to your destination is a savvy way to save your travel money abroad. Prepaid cards work out cheaper for the most part since many of them charge lower usage fees (or no fees at all) than standard debit and credit cards.
Before applying a prepaid card, though, make sure you check the small print for hidden fees such as withdrawal fees, purchases fees, monthly fees, etc.
2. Go where the US dollar is strong
Travelling to a destination that uses the US dollar as their currency is a sure way to stretch the value of your dollar overseas. Buenos Aires and Bali are amazingly cheap destinations for US travellers, especially Bali where you can enjoy a luxury over-the-water bungalow stay for less than $150. Other places where the dollar is still strong are Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico and Panama.
3. Know the exchange rate
Getting a good exchange rate for your travel money is as important as knowing where to exchange your currency once you arrive at your destination. As a rule of thumb, avoid exchanging money at the airport, banks and hotels. Money exchangers at these places charge a high commission and exchange rate.
Also, try using a credit card or an ATM card to withdraw cash to benefit from better exchange rates. Just make sure you get a credit card that does not charge a foreign fee such as Capital One or BankAmericard (two of the few US credit card companies that do not charge a foreign transaction fee).
4. Look beyond Western Europe
As the value of the dollar keeps falling, vacationing in Europe (especially Western Europe) is becoming more expensive for US travellers. Having said this, there are a couple of things you can do to make a vacation in Europe more affordable:
(1) Book a stopover flight with a European airliner. Icelandair is one European carrier that offers North American travellers an affordable way to travel to Europe by simply having a stopover in Iceland.
(2) Go to Eastern Europe. There's no better place to stretch your travel dollar in Europe than in the eastern region. Poland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Turkey offer plenty of cheap eats and affordable accommodation.
5. Churn credit cards
Most credit card companies are offering great promotional perks such as free air-miles to new customers who sign up for a new credit card. Churn 2 or 3 new credit card sign ups for miles and all you have to do is meet the minimum spending requirement to collect your free air miles.
You can also sign up to premium credit card programs such as Diners Club's Carte Blanche Card and the American Express Platinum Card to benefit from twofers (getting a free flight after purchasing one ticket)
6. Keep change at hand
You may not think of it but tipping excessively is a sure way to shrink your travel dollar on vacation. Picture the scenario of having to tip a few bucks to the valet staff each time they park and retrieve the car for you (do this for a 2 week vacation and you can easily waste over $100 in valet tips alone).
Don't get me wrong, though. I know as a traveller you are expected to tip for services used and places you eat and stay. However, you can avoid tipping excessively by simply keeping handy a few 1 dollar bills so you have tipping money readily available for tipping the taxi driver, bellmen, maids, restaurants, valet parking staff, and other service people.
By implementing the above tips, you can make your travel dollar go further while enjoying a fun time on vacation without having to worry about budgeting so much.
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