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Traveling Abroad Safely and Cheaply

Traveling is one of the greatest joys of life. It brings a sense of adventure. There is truly nothing more exciting than exploring places unknown and becoming more in tune with the world around you. Traveling abroad safely is as easy as choosing a place and a time to go, but there are tips to keep in mind when traveling anywhere new.

photo credit: Kjetil via Flickr

While it’s great to be spontaneous, when you’re headed somewhere new, it’s not a bad idea to lay down some groundwork and do research about where you’re going. Ask yourself questions like: What is the culture like? What are the top places I want to visit? How do I plan to get around? Where do I plan to stay? These are important things to know, especially if you are traveling with kids.

Traveling may seem like an expense that only the rich can afford, but there are ways to travel abroad cheaply and safely. Here is what you can do to prepare:

1. Do your research

Ask around and talk to people who have been where you’re going. It’s fun to share stories, but they also might have tips for you about specific places to go or sights to see that you wouldn’t find out about otherwise. You can ask them what one of the biggest highlights of their trip was to get a better idea of what to plan. This will make your trip go smoother and be that much more fun. Also, read online articles and forums that have specific tips about the places you are traveling to. You can find deals on transportation, where to stay, and other ways you can cut costs.

2. Set a budget

Before you even get on the plane, plan out a budget of what you want to spend your money on and how much you want to spend each day. This includes meals, tourist attractions, accommodations, and day-to-day expenses. It can all quickly add up unless you have an idea ahead of time of how much you want (or don’t want) to spend. Understand the conversion rate and take out cash you need to avoid having to possibly pay bank fees abroad.

3. Dress appropriately

Depending on what’s on your agenda, you’ll most likely need a pair of proper walking shoes. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to dress like you’re headed to the gym every day, but flat shoes are typically the way to go. Make sure you break them in before your travels to avoid blisters. You’ll also want to leave your expensive jewelry at home and replace it with cheaper cz jewelry. Even in highly-populated area, it’s a good idea to not make yourself a target for thieves and also protect yourself from losing anything of value.

4. Pack wisely

Pack according to your plans and mix-and-match outfits so that you don’t pack unnecessary shoes or clothes. You can potentially get away with one or two pairs of jeans depending on how long you’re traveling for and where else you’re going. Also, add an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag just in case there’s a chance your luggage does get lost. Check what kind of adaptors you might need for your electronics and a big life saver is to pack extra snacks for the trip. Be sure to also keep your passport in a safe place at all times. You should make copies of your passport and any other important travel documents, and keep them separate from your originals.

5. Contact your bank

Your bank or credit card may signal a fraud alert if you are spending money in another country or, in some cases, in another area of the U.S. than where you live. Contact your credit card companies and bank and let them know of your travel plans so that your cards don’t get frozen. Many banks allow you to do this online now, making this quicker and more convenient. You should also consider getting a prepaid travel card to make it easier to spend money abroad while avoiding fees.

It’s a fun idea to go with the flow and make decisions spur of the moment, but that’s usually best for choosing a restaurant or whether you’re going to squeeze in an extra city as part of your international visit. Every other part of your escapades should involve thorough planning.

You don’t have to make an itinerary for your whole trip down to the hour, but it makes life easier when you make a list of things to do before you leave so you don’t find yourself in another country caught off guard. Once your travels have begun, you’ll feel better and be able to relax if you know that you are properly prepared.

Do you have any summer plans? What is your best tip for traveling abroad?

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