Two ways to pay abroad -
Use your personal banking cards.
Take out a lump sum before you go and convert into the local currency.
I always prefer the latter. Depending on the area of the world, you may not be able to pay by card. Also, artisan shops and markets typically do not have card scanners. If I take out a lump sum, I still usually take a debit card, in case of emergencies. How do I put the fun in funds? Check it out:
If you are taking a credit or debit card, call your bank to tell them you are traveling out of the country. You may not need to take money out while you are there, but if you do, be sure your bank knows so they do not freeze your account.
Find out the currency conversion rate. Typing it into Google seems to be the easiest.
Decide your daily budget. Talk to people who have been, read blog posts, think about your planned (food, lodging, activities) and unplanned (gifts, souvenirs, emergency) purchases.
Divide the total by the number of days you'll be there. Once you decide what you can spend each day, I like to only carry my daily allowance with me. This keeps me from overspending, and if there is money left over, it’s a bonus for the next day!
If you do have to stop by an ATM, remember you’ll probably pay an ATM fee. If others in your group need money, take it out all together so that you only have to pay a single fee. Try to pull from these places:
From your bank, if that’s not available...
At an airport or bank, if that’s not available...
From a reputable looking ATM
After you strategize how manage your funds, then you can decide how to spend them. Every trip is different depending on the area of the world you go to, the conversion rate, and your budget. Generally, here’s what I suggest:
Research so you don’t end up overpaying onsite. If there is an option to pay in advance for expensive items (hotel, activities, transportation), do it. I recommend this for several reasons:
If paying online, you usually don’t have to pay a foreign transaction fee.
It’s usually cheaper to book in advance.
You don’t have to keep up with the money while you are traveling.
It helps prevent being sold add-ons that you don’t need.
Buy groceries so you don’t have to eat out every meal. Yes, you travel for the food experiences but restaurants can quickly drain your budget. If there are local delicacies or dishes, you should definitely try them, but keep snacks and easy meals on hand for days when you don’t need to eat like a queen. Plus, foreign grocery stores are a great way to try local food too!
If you are in a country where haggling is expected, do it! It may take a few interactions to build up your courage (I was not comfortable with this when I started traveling) but ultimately it can save you quite a bit. Plus, you always feel empowered getting a deal. Always be polite, yet firm in your negotiations and remember it’s okay to walk away. Typically, sellers will offer you a discount if you buy multiple items. If you are new to haggling, I would recommend starting there.
As with buying any gift/souvenir/clothing, really ask yourself if it is useful. Will it add value to your life? Will you use it when you get home? It’s easy to get caught up in the magic and lifestyle of the place you are in, but imagine the item at home on your dresser. Do you need it? If the answer is 'maybe', just walk away. You can use that money on something you really love later!