Even if you’re an experienced business traveler, there are a few little things you can do to make your next travel experience more expedient, efficient, and economical. Based on our own experiences, as well as those of some of our customers, these are a few travel hacks you can do to save money, time, and your sanity.
Pay premium for the direct flight. The old axiom is true: time is money. And if you’re a business traveler, you’re losing money while you’re in transit, which means you need to find a way to shorten that time. Traveling more legs than necessary just to save money actually decreases your productivity, which costs you more money in the long run.
Every segment you add to a flight also increases the risk of delay or cancellation, which costs time as well as energy. Plus, those who book full-fare tickets, even if they’re in economy, are more likely to get an upgrade if it’s available because the gate agent will know the price you paid by a code on the ticket. Remember, if you get to your destination sooner, you can start working sooner.
Negotiate with car rental agencies. Did you even know you could do this? According to some of our experienced business travelers, you can. While premium cars are more expensive, rental agents may be willing to negotiate if there are available cars in this category, and if they’re not pressed for time with lots of customers behind you.
Traveling with money is always a challenge, because there are twice as many ways to lose money as there are forms of payment. Not only can you just misplace it or leave it behind, but you’re also at risk of pickpockets and thieves, especially if you travel outside the United States.
So here are a few tips for managing your money while traveling on business, especially if you travel overseas.
Get a compatible credit card. The card you already carry may be used internationally with a simple call to the company to alert them of your travels, but a growing number of European and Asian countries now require a card with a built-in chip. If you are traveling on business and your company doesn’t supply you with a credit card for expenses, make sure your personal line of credit can be accessed without penalty. Then, get a personal card to be used only for business expenses, one that lets you rack up airline or hotel points. Additionally, use this card whenever possible, rather than making cash withdrawals overseas. Not only are the fees higher, the exchange rate is less favorable when you exchange it yourself.
Consider on-body storage. You may have been told that money belts are a safe way to carry money, but an experienced thief can recognize them immediately (hint: nobody wears a belt that thick). Instead, money belts and fanny packs broadcast to thieves that you’re not a local, which could increase your odds of being a victim. Consider a money pouch that hangs on your belt inside your pants, or a wallet that hangs around your neck inside your shirt. Just don’t go digging through it when you have to pay for an item; the whole point of on-body storage is for it to be a secret!
Traveling is expensive; there’s no way around it. But that doesn’t mean you have to fall prey to the hidden costs and extra surprise charges. There are ways to avoid unnecessary fees that can come along while you’re traveling, so here are a few ways you can avoid the problem.
When you’re at the car rental agency desk and are asked if you want to buy their insurance, you can politely answer with a confident “no, thank you,” as long as you know that your standard car insurance policy covers rental cars (check with your agent to be sure). Also, some credit cards provide insurance for rental cars as well, like American Express.
Hunger strikes when you’re least prepared, and it seems like the only option available would be the overpriced airport and hotel food. Not true! Since you know you get hungry approximately three times a day, whether traveling or not, avoid that $3 bottle of water by packing your own empty one, and filling it at the water fountain. Better yet, fill it from the bottle-filling stations if available.
A recent article in Yahoo travel about the mistakes that travelers tend to make got us thinking about our own advice for travelers.
One tip we make over and over is not having cash in hand before we set out on our travels. Although we mostly recommend that travelers use their cards when traveling and to have a limited amount of cash before you set out is extremely helpful because some places in the area you’re visiting might not take cards (for example, the toll booths on the Florida turnpike don’t take plastic).
One of our employees has upcoming travel plans that include Spain and he plans to get Euros at his bank before he heads out. He says that using ATMs overseas can be dicey in that you may have your card flagged. We also feel that the exchange places at and near the airports can be overpriced.
We also believe not researching your destination is a huge mistake. Know what you want to visit before you go. Otherwise, you may end up in a beautiful area and not know what’s so great about it. Smartphones can help in this case, but they may not know important tourist destinations could be booked or you could arrive on the wrong day to hit a hot spot. Know before you go.
Our same globe-trotting employee took a list of destinations on a recent trip to Italy. Once he got there, he and his family cut back on the list and talked to locals about what was really worth their time. They ended up having the best possible trip because they were able to create a big list and cull from it, rather than try to decide where to go each morning, and miss better sights and venues.
The article says that relying heavily on public transport is a mistake. However, we tend to think that renting a car is the bigger mistake relating to getting around while traveling in a foreign land. That’s because it’s hard to really understand the traffic patterns and it’s certainly difficult to navigate when you can’t read the road signs.
It’s probably better to rent a car only if you plan on staying somewhere for an extended period of time. Stick with the public transportation whenever possible; in many of these countries, especially Western Europe, they excel at public transportation, and many locals don’t even own cars because the transportation is so good.
What are some of the travel mistakes you’ve made? What have you seen other people do? Leave us a blog comment or post something on our Facebook page.
For the last couple of blog posts, we’ve been discussing different travel scams and petty crimes found on a Lifehack.org infographic on common travel scams. In our last two posts, we’ve discussed pickpockets and con artists. Now let’s look at how people can take your money through general theft or even identity theft.
1. The Drop and Swap
This one happens when someone is returning your change. They will drop it, pick it up, but give you less than what you should be given. They might exchange the dropped money for coins or bills that are worth less. It’s important to know the currency in the places where you’re traveling. Know what each bill and coin is worth, how much you are giving, and how much you should get in return.
2. The Cashier on the Phone
This is a sneaky one. The cashier will act busy on their phone, but in reality, they are taking a picture of your credit card to get your card information, which they’ll use later.
3. Slow Counting
A cashier will count your money very slowly. While this may not seem like a big deal, they are doing this to see if you notice they are counting a bill twice. Count the money again yourself, once you’ve been given your change.
4. The Fake Takeout Menu
If a menu is slipped under your hotel door be warned! It may not be a real menu. You’ll call the restaurant to place an order, only to have your credit card number stolen, and no one will show up with your food either. So now you’re hungry, and significantly poorer.
5. The Fake Front Desk Call
If you ever get a call from the front desk saying there were problems with your credit card, always go down to sort out the problem. Scam artists have been known to call hotel rooms asking for credit card information, especially in the evening. Instead, they steal your credit card number and take your money. But if you go downstairs to deal with the problem, you can make sure you solve the right problem.
Have you ever been scammed on your travels? What happened? How did they do it? Leave a comment, or tell us on our Facebook page.
For some, international travel can be that once-in-a-lifetime adventure they’ve planned for years. For others, it’s just another day at the office. But whether you’re setting foot on new shores for the first time, or everyone shouts your name when you walk into the airport, your trip can turn sour if you don’t know how to protect yourself and your money.
Here are a few tips to keep worry-free about your money during your overseas travel.
- Make several copies of your identification. Carry your driver’s license with you, but have a backup copy with a friend or spouse. Do the same with your passports.
- Alert your bank that you will be traveling, especially if you’re traveling internationally. Because while you know you’re in Istanbul, and your family knows you’re in Istanbul, all your bank sees is a sudden flurry of activity in Turkey. They may freeze your account to protect you against fraudulent purchases. Let them know beforehand to ensure your money is available when you need it.
- Slim down your wallet. Bring identification, debit/credit cards and insurance cards, but leave the extras at home. If you lose your wallet, it will save you time from having to replace every card you’ve ever accumulated. Finally, carry little cash, as it bulks up your wallet and makes you an easy target for pickpockets. Carry your cash in a front pocket.
- Do not use a money belt. A money belt, just like a fat wallet, will make you an easy target for thieves.
- Finally, we are releasing a business case line with RFID (radio frequency identification) protection. Since many credit cards, and even the U.S. passport, use RFID, it’s easy for an identify thief to just stand nearby and capture all your electronic information. Our RFID protective cases block these individuals from gathering your information, leaving your finances, and your trip, intact.
What are some other money-protecting traveling tips you have? What strategies do you use? Or what are some lessons you learned the hard way? Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page.
Before embarking on an international trip, there are a lot of things to consider, the largest of which is money. When traveling abroad, is it better to bring cash or credit cards? And if you do opt to bring cash, should you bring US dollars to exchange upon arrival, or should you change your currency before you even leave the US?When traveling internationally, I use debit and credit cards as my main form of currency as in most cases, it’s more cost-effective to use a debit or credit card to withdraw local currency upon arrival. This method will allow you to exchange your US dollars into local currency at the wholesale exchange rate, which is typically better than what a local currency exchange would offer. Additionally, most local banks and currency exchanges will add on a transaction fee, which will usually be around 2% of your total transaction. By using an ATM, the only fee you may get hit with is an ATM fee, which will be similar to what you’d pay at an out-of-network ATM in the United States.
However, I also exchange a small amount of money — enough to last a day or so — prior to leaving the United States. I recommend this to all international travelers, as in the event that you run into issues withdrawing money, you won’t find yourself stranded and penniless in a foreign country.
There is a slim chance that your bank may flag your transaction as suspicious, especially if you forgot to call to inform them of your travels prior to leaving! Also, many countries around the world now rely on chip and pin (or EMV) credit cards. While most retailers will still accept magnetic strip cards, this isn’t always the case.
Of course, there are circumstances where cash is the only way to go. Many people are surprised to learn that US debit cards are virtually useless in many countries. In some countries (such as Myanmar), ATMs are not connected to international networks. In other countries (like Japan) debit cards are much smaller, and the standard US card is not sized correctly for ATMs.
Depending on your destination, your best bet is to use a credit card as your primary source of funds. However, no matter where you’re headed, it pays to do your research before you leave.
- Using Your Bank Check Card/Debit Card on Vacation (ally.com)
- TEN Tips to Safeguard Your Credit and Debit Cards (arthamvidya.wordpress.com)