You’re finally on holidays, and after months of saving you know you can splurge a little bit. A meal here, a theme park there—it all seems to be going wonderfully until your card is declined.
Yes, that’s what happened to me when I walked into a hotel in Maryland. And being really short of money, I had to borrow some cash from my parents to make it through the rest of my travels.
I know how lucky I was to be ‘saved’ in that situation, and moving forward it’s taught me some valuable tips about how to handle my money while on vacation. So whether you’re taking a weekend away or backpacking around Europe, here are four must-follow tips to save yourself from a tight situation when you’re away from home.
It’s a cliché, but never underestimate the power of a good budget. Sort out how much money you will have on departure, set aside what’s needed to pay for any accommodation and travel expenses, and divide the rest by how many days you’re travelling. This will help you identify how much you can spend on special outings and take away the constant stress of estimating how much money you have left for the holiday.
2. Always have cash on hand
Whether you’re travelling with your debit card or an international cash card, always have a spare few hundred dollars tucked away in case of an emergency. Leave some notes in your purse or wallet for shopping in local gift shops or cafes and, depending on which country you’re in, use it to tip! When you’re staying somewhere for a few days, you can keep any additional money cards and cash with your luggage as a back-up.
3. Double-check the details
When my card was declined at the hotel, it happened because I was sure I had pre-paid for my accommodation. Evidently, I hadn’t. So make sure you double-check the payment options, regulations and dates for each place you’re travelling to. Many places require at least $100 as a security deposit when you book in, and some international flights charge you up to $30 per bag of luggage. When you’re on a tight budget, these things make a huge difference, so do your research.
4. Public transport is your friend
Want to save money? Take public transport everywhere. Familiarise yourself with local bus routes and train lines via Google maps, and check to see which tourist shuttles function in the area. Obviously public transport isn’t always an option—especially if it requires you to walk in an unsafe area of town. To avoid this, have a friend pick you up, or order an Uber or Lyft. It’s less expensive than a taxi, and the tip is built into the system.