International Travel Tips for the Next Time You Fly
There's no doubt about it: Traveling is expensive – and when you're traveling internationally, the costs can be especially high. Fortunately, there are also many ways to save if you do some research and plan ahead. These international travel tips will help you save money and keep your financial information secure on your next trip.
Use a VPN
Airline websites sometimes display different ticket prices depending on your location, meaning that you could be charged a higher price than someone browsing from a different country. You can get around this by using a VPN, or virtual private network. A VPN makes websites think that you're in a different country, which helps you to compare prices and find cheaper fares. Slate has detailed instructions on how to safely set up a VPN.
Keeping a VPN in place while you travel also encrypts your data, meaning you're less likely to be hacked through public Wi-Fi on your trip. Just make sure that VPNs are acceptable for use in the countries you're visiting. As Ars Technica notes, some governments regulate or tamper with VPNs.
Be Flexible About Your Destination
If you're interested in seeing several countries or cities, be flexible about which one you visit next. Travel fare aggregator sites like Skyscanner can help you simultaneously compare flights for thousands of destinations. Being open to different destinations can help you save money and introduce a fun sense of spontaneity into your vacation planning. Is this the year you see Stockholm, Tokyo or Athens? Let the prices decide.
Get Free Stopovers
Some airlines offer passengers free extended stopovers that can enhance your trip without adding to your airfare bill. A stopover is an extended gap of time in between connecting flights, usually a couple of days. For example, Travel + Leisure reports that Finnair offers stopovers of up to five days in Helsinki, Hawaiian Airlines offers stopovers in Honolulu and TAP Portugal offers up to three nights in Lisbon or the picturesque coastal city of Porto. Stopover terms vary by airline, but they may include discounts on hotels or other perks like free tours.
Remove Financial Information From Your Electronic Devices
One of the most important international travel tips is to protect financial data, including credit card numbers, bank account numbers, passwords and your Social Security number. Check your phone, laptop and other devices to see if any information is readily accessible. For example, your browser might have saved your username and password for your bank's website, or a budgeting app might link to your credit card accounts. Remove any and all financial information from your devices before you travel, so that if a thief accesses them, they won't get your money. Memorize contact information for your bank's or credit card issuer's fraud department. This way, if a card is stolen, you'll be prepared to respond quickly.
Due to the risk of electronic fraud, you might be tempted to rely on paper currency while traveling. However, carrying large sums of money is never a good idea. Instead, try other ways of accessing and managing your money abroad. Travelers cheques are a more secure method, as are encrypted payment apps like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
Watch Out for Card Skimmers
As PC Magazine explains, card skimmers are small machines thieves attach to ATMs and card readers to steal credit and debit card information. Be on the lookout for these when you travel. Before using an unfamiliar ATM, check for signs of tampering. If different parts of the ATM are made of non-matching colors or materials, or if some parts seem loosely glued on, don't use it.
Use Credit Cards Instead of Debit Cards
Bring credit cards rather than debit cards to use on your trip abroad. Then, if your card information is stolen, you can dispute any fraudulent charges on your bill without your money leaving your bank account. If your debit card is used fraudulently, the money is gone from your account until your bank investigates, which can take several weeks. It's safer to keep your debit cards at home and avoid this problem on your journey.
International travel is full of benefits – but it's also full of costs. Use these tips to help you enjoy your next trip even more by saving money and staying safe.