Who doesn’t get a touch of wanderlust from time to time? If you’re tired of vacationing in the same places, you may be looking for a new destination outside of the United States. Maybe you want to see the world before you settle down with a mortgage or a family, or after the kids leave the nest and while you’re enjoying retirement.
Below are three tips to help you plan your overseas adventure:
Tip 1: Set a Realistic Budget
The world is your oyster, but your current financial situation has a big impact on your destination. Before dreaming up too big of a trip, take a look at your finances and consider how much you’re willing to spend. While you will always cherish the memories during your trip of a lifetime, be sure you’re not jeopardizing your financial future. Always keep debt and retirement goals in mind and be careful of borrowing against your retirement for immediate gratification.
To save up for your trip, consider opening a separate savings account to help you sock away enough money.
Take our savings quiz to find out which account is right for you!
You also want to consider your “time budget,” or how long you’ll be traveling. This can depend on many factors, including family obligations or the number of vacation days you can take from work. Knowing how long you can afford to be gone will help you choose a location and is a critical factor when considering travel expenses such as hotels, rental cars, or meals.
Tip 2: Do Your Research
Now that you know what you’re able to spend in time and money, narrow down where you want to go. First, consider the type of vacation that you’re looking for. Do you want to relax on a sunny Caribbean beach sipping fruity drinks? Or are you interested in backpacking through Europe or South America?
The U.S. Department of State website offers helpful, country-specific information that may be useful, including visa and immunization requirements and the location of the U.S. embassy. Once you’ve chosen a country or city, look into accommodations, such as a hostel or hotel, and the cost of flights and any other required transportation. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the currency exchange rates in the destination country, as your hard-earned cash may either go a lot further or not as far as you’d like.
TRAVEL LIKE A PRO: Flight prices often depend on time of day, day of the week and even time of year. If your arrival and departure dates can be flexible, price out flights using several different departure and return dates. Also, buy your plane tickets as early as possible, as some airlines even have policies to reimburse you if the selected flight prices go down.
Need to travel around the holidays? Our five tips for holiday travel with no (financial) stress.
Tip 3: Get Everything Ready: From Your Passport to Your Cell Phone
The Right Documents & Foreign Currency
Once you’ve picked a destination, you will want to double check that your passport is up to date. That doesn’t only mean for your vacation. Your passport must be valid for at least six months after you return home, and some countries require longer expiration lead times. If your passport will expire within that time frame, renew it ahead of time so you aren’t stuck at Customs or worse, turned away at the gate and unable to board the plane. If you need a new passport, be sure to give yourself enough time because the process can take several weeks.
While you may consider primarily using a credit or debit card for purchases or visiting an ATM abroad, it’s a good idea to have at least some local currency. Obtaining currency ahead of time allows you to avoid pricey fees for using an ATM abroad.
DID YOU KNOW? You can order foreign currency at any Rockland Trust branch, which is usually delivered within a couple of days, or visit these Rockland Trust locations for immediate exchange to Euros, British Pounds, or Canadian Dollars.
If you plan on driving abroad, you should consider getting an International Driving Permit or International Driving License, which translates your current driver's license to the local language and is recognized in most countries. Some countries do not recognize U.S. driver’s licenses so check before making your plans around driving.
In terms of car insurance, you should discuss your coverage with your agent and with your credit card company, if using a credit card to reserve your rental. In all likelihood, you will want to get coverage from the car rental agency. You’ll also want to research the rules of the road, such as which lane to drive in and if seat belts are required.
Take a look at your health insurance policy to determine if you’ll be covered abroad. Understand that it may not cover medical evacuation, which can be very costly. You may consider purchasing additional insurance. The U.S. Department of State website has a helpful Your Health Abroad page that may help you plan for your medical needs.
While you may be excited to post photos of your travels from your phone, be advised that your carrier may charge you an arm and leg for it. You have several options, including opting to use only WiFi, or checking in to see if your cell phone carrier offers an international plan add-on.
TRAVEL LIKE A PRO: Be sure you are bringing the correct adapters. Some countries have different voltage which requires a voltage converter to ensure you don’t fry your electronics. While many hotels have adapters to offer guests, some charge for them and Airbnbs may not have extras.
Wishing you safe travels! Check out our Learning Center for helpful articles that feature financial advice, including saving and budgeting tips and tricks.
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