Few people make it through this life without wanting to travel someplace foreign and far from home. Unfortunately, only a small number of them make it happen.
In most instances, the single greatest obstacle is cost. The average overseas trip runs around $3000 USD. The passport application process alone will cost around $200. Most folks – especially those in the United States – are reluctant to spend so much money on travel.
While overseas travel will always cost a pretty penny to pull off, there are ways to reduce that price tag as much as possible. The following are six ways to make overseas travel less expensive and more affordable:
Eliminate bank fees
Chances are you’ll be withdrawing cash from an ATM at some point during your trip. You might do so more than once. But if your bank isn’t networked with the one you’re using to make withdrawals, you’ll be charged a fee each time. The best way to avoid these fees is to contact your bank and ask which banks they’re working with overseas. More times than not, these fees are waived so long as the two banks have an existing arrangement. If your bank lacks such international banking networks, consider using a prepaid debit card during your trip.
Limit foreign transaction fees
Credit cards are the lifeblood of international travel. Unfortunately, most credit card companies charge a foreign transaction fee for every purchase made overseas. With foreign transaction fees going as high as three percent, it’s easy to see how they can add significant costs to an overseas trip. Fortunately, certain types of credit cards can be used where these fees are waived. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the most popular option, but similar cards are offered by Capital One and other credit card companies.
Get a VAT tax refund
Many countries impose a value-added tax on goods and services. If you live in a country without VAT, you may be entitled to a refund upon return. For instance, an American returning from their dream trip to Paris can get a VAT refund from France for any products and services paid for during their trip. While getting a VAT refund can take weeks to process, services are available that help to expedite the process.
Avoid roaming charges
Do you plan on using your mobile phone to text and call people back home? If so, those roaming fees will add up fast. However, if you notify your carrier of your travel plans, they may be able to offer a reasonable option. For instance, AT&T offers customers an international roaming plan capped at $10 per day. Opting for such plans before you leave the country can save you loads of cash.
Chances are you’ll make it back home in one piece with no harm done. But accidents happen, and tourists are a common target for petty criminals like con artists and pickpockets. With this in mind, consider the potential cost-saving benefits of getting traveler’s health insurance as well as a comprehensive traveler’s insurance policy. Spending a little bit of money before you leave the country could be what keeps you from paying hundreds or thousands of dollars due to medical issues or criminal activity.
Preparation is the key to success. With this in mind, take time to plan your overseas trip down to the last detail. Doing so can lead to significant savings. For instance, getting foreign currency through your home bank will be far cheaper than using the currency exchange counter at the airport. Buying a plug adapter on Amazon will be cheaper than buying one in the hotel gift shop. Even taking the time to check the weather forecast can be enough to keep you from spending money on suitable clothes upon arrival.
There’s no shortage of people who dream of international travel. But most never get around to making it happen. This is mostly due to the cost of traveling overseas. While taking an overseas trip will always cost a pretty penny, there are several ways to lower that cost. In doing so, overseas travel goes from being a cost-prohibitive dream to an affordable reality.
Julie Steinbeck is a freelance writer from Florida. She enjoys covering topics related to business, finance, and travel.