Top Travel Money Saving Tips

Exchange your foreign currency before you go

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We recommend exchanging your foreign currency before you leave for your overseas trip, so that you can avoid costly airport fees, as well as the risk of being ripped off at your destination.

Remember that the amount you actually pay is not just the straight exchange rate, but also any transaction fees and commission charged on top of that - so if a rate looks good, just find out about any extra fees before you purchase!

Picking up your currency at the airport is always convenient, but the terrible exchange rate is really not worth the convenience, so try to organise your foreign exchange a week or 2 in advance. That way you can also ensure you lock in a good rate, rather than being at the mercy of whatever the rate is on the day you leave.

Budget for stopovers

Have a long-haul flight ahead of you? Then make sure you have some of the local currency of your stopover destination on you so that you can get some coffee or food at the airport. If you have quite a long stopover, you may even want to do some shopping, or get a massage to relax you before your next flight. So, it can help to have this on you already - the rates at the airport may not be great, or the exchange bureaus may even be closed if you get to the airport in the evening.

Be aware when exchanging overseas

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Sometimes the language barrier when you're travelling can make exchanging money while on holiday quite difficult. You don't understand what they're showing you, they don't understand what you're asking for, and all in all, it can be a mess. And you can land up short-changed as a result.

In some countries there are also often unscrupulous local money changers hanging around tourist hotspots, where their quick money-counting hands can leave you a few notes short.

Just double check what you receive, or exchange with a reputable brand.

Get a pre-paid travel money card

On your holiday you shouldn't have to worry about bad exchange rates, extra fees, or having to calculate conversion rates from Australian dollars each time you spend some money. So, get yourself a pre-paid travel money card, lock in your exchange rate before you go and save yourself the fees you would get if you just used your own bank card, as well as the extra hassle.

Top tip: if you select the "credit" option when using your travel money card instead of "debit", then you will get all the security of purchasing like you do with a credit card, and helps avoid fraudulent use of your card.

And, we would recommend avoiding using this card to book accommodation, car hire or anything else that requires pre-authorisation funds to be blocked on your card - it can take weeks to get this unlocked, and you don't want all your spending money tied up when you need it.

Stick to local currency

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If you are using a travel money card, then you won't need to worry about this as your exchange rate will already be locked in, but if you use your own bank card on your holiday, then make sure you opt to pay in the local currency when given the choice.

The exchange rate for local funds with your bank is always better than the one given by the retailer's bank, so select to shop in the local currency, rather than in AUD.

Split up your money options

Try not to carry all of your money and money options on you wherever you go - if anything were to happen, then that could be all your travel money gone in one swoop. So mitigate the risk by splitting up your cash and cards. Maybe leave some of your cash and your back-up travel money card locked away in your hotel room, and only take with you the cash that you need for the day. If you are travelling with your partner or friends, maybe split the cash up between you, so if one of you gets pick-pocketed, at least the other person will have some cash on them. 

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Understand the local customs to save

Knowing more about how things work in the country you are visiting can help you save money. Like - did you know that people watching could double the price of your coffee?

In Europe, if you choose to have your coffee at an outside table so you can sit and watch the world go by, your coffee can cost up to almost double the amount it would if you were to sit inside.

And in Asia, if you get comfortable with haggling, you can save yourself a lot on shopping purchases. Try offering 50% of the initial asking price, until you barter your way up to an agreed price - you get a saving and the retailer feels as if they haven't given you too much of a discount. It's win-win.

So, before you go, spend some time doing some research on the country you are going to and see if you can pick up any tips and tricks.

Take advantage of freebies

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Does your hotel offer free bottled water? Take it with you and fill it up throughout the day. Get free breakfast with your accommodation? Save some money and eat at the hotel before you set out for the day.

Find out what public transport is free in the city you are in, or if there are any multi-trip passes available. Look for free walking tours and events. If you visit the local tourism centre, you should be able to find out about any free events happening while you are visiting. Use free Wi-Fi to check on your emails instead of paying for international roaming.

All the little things can add up to more spending money in your pocket.

Know your refunds

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Many countries charge taxes on purchases that, if you are a tourist, you can claim back when you leave. For example, in the UK, you can get refunded the VAT on certain purchases, which can be up to 20% of the amount you paid. It's worth doing your homework to find out what you can claim back and how much.

Have any tips of your own? Head to our Facebook page and share your money saving tips and tricks you use on holidays.