One of the many benefits to booking a guided tour for your holiday is being safe in the knowledge that you aren’t alone in your adventures. Whether you are going on a 2-day guided city break or a 21-day multi-country tour, it is important to make sure that you are prepared for all aspects of your trip.
Having experienced a broad variety of guided tours, ranging from day excursions to longer coach tours, I wanted to share with you the things I have learnt along the way about handling your travel money on a guided tour. So, here are my top 10 tips and tricks.
My top tip for anyone travelling overseas, and especially on a multi-country tour, is to find out what currencies you will need. You don't want to head to Norway with a wallet full of Euros, only to find you actually need the Norwegian Krone!
The next thing you should do is make sure you're aware of what is included (and probably more importantly, excluded) in your tour price. For example - are gratuities and trip kitty's included, or will you have to budget for these separately? Once you know if they are included or not, you can look at setting a realistic budget.
If this is your first tour, ask your travel expert what they recommend as a daily allowance, and if you have toured before think of what you spent on your last trip and adjust as necessary. You can also use the handy budget planner tool here to help you set your overall trip budget!
Don’t rely on ATM’s and Eftpos facilities being readily available everywhere that you travel. I recommend having a minimum of AU$100 converted into the currency of your first destination, in small notes. That way if you can't find an ATM straight away, or can't use your debit or credit card to pay for things, you will still have some cash on you to make a phone call, catch a cab or even get that well needed caffeine fix when you arrive at your destination.
A couple of years back I was on a tour that stopped in Istanbul, Turkey, and I found myself in the market mecca that is the Grand Bazaar. I wandered around the markets admiring the fabrics, Turkish sweet treats and perfumes that would be the perfect one-of-a-kind gift to take back home for loved ones. Except I had no cash on me. And I couldn't find any ATM's or Eftpos facilities, so I couldn't buy any of the gifts that I wanted.
I had made the mistake I mentioned in tip number 2, and made the assumption that I would be able to withdraw money from an ATM, but this option wasn't available and I was left disappointed. So, I always think it is a good idea to have backup options (like exchanging a small amount of cash before you go on holiday) for your travel money, just in case plan A falls through.
Still taking travellers cheques with you on holiday?
These days, there are so many alternative (and better) options than travellers cheques, and to be honest, not many places accept them anymore. So, it is worth looking into the different options available to you and what might work best in the destinations you are going to.
I often found that the best way to carry my money was on a pre-loaded currency card, like a Key to the World Currency Card. This way I could lock in my exchange rate* when it was good. I also saved on bank fees each time I used the card or took out cash from an ATM.
I also found it helped to keep my regular bank cards and accounts separate from my travel budget, from both a budgeting and a security point of view. My travel money wasn't mixed up with my rent money, so I didn't accidentally spend it, and if anything did ever happen (say if my card was stolen), my money at home was still protected. All I would have to do is then use my secondary card. At worst case if I lose that too, I can let customer service know to suspend my card temporarily and have a new card posted to my preferred location.
The card is powered by Mastercard® which means I can use this everywhere Mastercard® is accepted, whether in shops or at ATMs.
You're on a tour where gratuities aren't included, and after your Greek Island Hopping experience, you leave your local boat and notice everyone else is dropping a few coins and notes into a bucket as they leave, thanking their driver and host for an awesome time. But, you have no cash on you to leave a tip... Oops!
Or, you are on a tour in the United States and catch a taxi. At the end of the trip, your driver expects a 15 to 20% tip and you only have a $100 bill and he doesn't have change for you. What do you do?
I think it's always a good idea to keep some cash on you for incidentals, like tips, and an even better idea to have this cash in a variety of denominations, including small bills so you are covered for all eventualities.
Guided tours often function on a language of their own, and it helps to know what the lingo means - especially if it has to do with your travel funds.
For example, some tours require a "Trip Kitty", where you put in money for meals, small incidentals etc, over and above the initial cost of your trip. It will help you set a budget if you a) know what this is, b) know if you need it, and c) know how much you should be contributing.
FYI - a kitty makes it easier to split costs, but I would advise storing it in the hotel safe while you are out and about. Just don’t forget to take it with you when you check out!
You can be as prepared as you like, but unforeseen things can and do happen and it is always a good idea to have travel insurance in place to protect you should they happen to you!
While travel insurance is a good idea in general, you should check if your travel insurance policy covers your travel money. It takes only one tired slip of concentration to leave your bag in a taxi with your carefully stored cash in it, or you get caught up staring at the Eiffel Tower and don't notice your wallet being picked out of your pocket. So what do you do without travel money?
CoverMore’s Options comprehensive cover gives you coverage for your luggage and personal belongings should something happen to them. Travel Money Oz's FXperts can help you with a CoverMore travel insurance policy if you don't have cover yet! These things happen, and they are the reason why travel insurance exists.
No one wants to be fumbling around in their bag trying to find coins to settle a mini bar bill, while trying to hold a rucksack with one hand and a bottle of water in the other, all the while your group is shouting for you to hurry up as the bus is about to leave.
Your trip is supposed to be fun and worry free, so help keep it that way by preparing yourself each morning and sorting your coins and small notes into order before you leave your hotel room. Being confident with the currency you are handling, and knowing how much cash you have on you at all times, will help you stay on track with your budget, avoid situations like the one above, and make you less of a target for pickpockets and scammers.
If you are travelling with your kids, you can let your little ones have some responsibility when it comes to money. If they have an allowance, let them use it by either splitting it per day or giving them the whole amount to spend and see how they learn to budget. It will give them the experience of learning new currencies, give them the chance to buy themselves a memento and maybe even help them discover a new language while they try!
Have a small amount of cash left over from your trip? Why not start dreaming of your next holiday by making a jar to store your leftover funds in? Or you can give it to a coin donation programme like Travel Money Oz’s Small Change Big Difference programme, and help some children in need.
If you find yourself with a large chunk of currency left over on a currency card you can be safe in the knowledge that they are valid for 5 years, so you can just use the leftover money on your next trip. But, if you know you aren’t going back to that destination or another country using that currency, you can cash out your card for a small fee.
I hope these tips will be handy on your next guided travel holiday. And, of course, if you are unsure of what currency you might need, or what your options are for taking foreign currency on your holiday, a quick visit to your nearest Travel Money Oz store will have you sorted out in no time! You can find your nearest store online.
*Key to the World Currency Card: Lock in your exchange rates mean the exchange rate is locked in for the initial load only. The exchange rates for subsequent reloads will be set at the prevailing exchange rate at the time of the transaction. Some ATM operators may charge an additional withdrawal fee.
CoverMore Travel Insurance: Limits, exclusions and conditions apply. Insurance issued by Great Lakes Australia (ARBN 127 740 532, AFSL No. 318603). Any advice is general advice only. Please consider your financial situation, needs and objectives and read the Combined PDS/FSG available from us before deciding to buy this insurance.
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