Money·5 min read

The Potential Pitfalls of International Travel That Could Really Cost You

woman with suitcase and backpack checking phone while walking in airport
Nov 30, 2022

Calling all wanderlusters. The travel industry is ~literally~ cooling down after a very hot, very dramatic summer. Making now the perfect time to strategize for (and actually book) your next IG-worthy trip abroad. So to wish you a bon voyage, we’ve gathered some tips to help you save time, energy, and money every step of the way. Now boarding…

Potential Pitfall: Booking flights too late

How to avoid: Grab your phone and mark your calendar. Because booking on the right day can help you score a good deal. Online travel agency CheapAir found flight prices to Europe, Mexico, and Central and South America are cheapest around 60–90 days before departure. While 210 days out is the sweet spot for Africa. Oh, and you’ll wanna plan wayyy ahead (think: around 314 days) for trips to Asia. Check out their map for more deets. 

Potential Pitfall: Taking a break that ends up breaking the bank

How to avoid: You know what they say, if you’re going to be sad, you might as well be sad in *insert popular tourist spot here*. But lots of other travelers can = inflated prices. Traveling to Canada or Mexico can help you get int’l without going into the red. Experts say conversions between the USD and Canadian dollars and Mexican pesos are good right now. Plus, you’ll be able to spend less time on flights and more time exploring.

Potential Pitfall: Sleeping on the strength of the dollar

How to avoid: A lot of hotels, apartment hosts, and tour groups give you the option to pay over time or on arrival. But since the value of the USD is strong relative to a lot of other currencies right now, you could end up paying a different amount by the time you get there — even though the sticker price won’t change. If you can swing it, consider paying for everything in full ASAP.

Potential Pitfall: Overpaying for foreign-currency exchange

How to avoid: Local operator ATMs (read: the kind not managed by reputable banks) and airport exchange centers tend to have high transaction and commission fees. But with TD Bank, you can order over 55 different currencies online or in-store ahead of time. And pick up your cash IRL at one of their foreign exchange centers. This way, you’ll have cash for all those fresh-off-the-plane expenses (public transport fees, cab fare, bellhop tips, etc.).

Potential Pitfall: Struggling to find a ride to the airport at 5 am

How to avoid: Reserve your rideshare ahead of time. Some apps let you request up to 30 days in advance. Not only will this help you budget accordingly and save some $$$, but you’ll be able to spend less time searching for a ride day-of. And more time triple-checking you’ve packed everything (psst…don’t forget that phone charger). 

Potential Pitfall: Running out of cash while out and about

How to avoid: Some countries are more cash-based than others. And your credit card provider could charge you up to 5% (plus a fee) for using your card abroad. Luckily, a few banks (including, yes, TD Bank) offer same-day exchanges with common currencies. Just be sure to call ahead and confirm before you go. 

PS: If you’re nervous about carrying that much cash with ya, try leaving some in a safe back at your hotel or rental, and carry a liiittle more than what you think you’ll need each day in a slim wallet or coin purse. The more discrete, the better.

Potential Pitfall: Spending more with every swipe 

How to avoid: No, not your dating app. We’re talking about your credit and debit card(s). Be sure to check what fees they charge on foreign transactions. They might seem small at first, but they can add up fast. Plus they’re hard to keep track of since they’re automatically factored into the totals that appear on your account statement. *Swipes left*  

Potential Pitfall: Losing track of conversion rates 

How to avoid: Math? On vacation? Couldn’t be us. But knowing these rates ahead of time can help you stay on budget — even if you’ve built in some splurges. Go ahead and keep a foreign exchange rate calculator (like this one) handy so you can make sure you know exactly how much money you’re spending. 

Potential Pitfall: Wandering without internet connection or cell service

How to avoid: If you’re not planning on purchasing an international data plan but still want to avoid roaming fees (which can be prettyyyy costly, btw), start the nav on your phone before you lose the airport Wi-Fi. Better yet, see if your map app has a ‘download’ option. That way, you can check your routes whether you’re in the depths of an African safari or on a gondola gliding through Venice — without paying anything more than you usually would for your phone service.

Potential Pitfall: Getting home with lots of leftover foreign $$$

How to avoid: Unless you’re into collecting different currencies, you’ll probably want to revert that cash back to US dollars. TD Bank can help with that. And at a good rate, too. The best part? You don’t need to have an account with ‘em to exchange. BRB, jumping for joy.


Psst…This article is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific financial, investment, tax, legal, accounting, or other advice and should not be acted or relied upon without the advice of a professional advisor. A professional advisor will recommend action based on your personal circumstances and the most recent information available.

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