Create a spending plan — and stick to it
Much like everyday life, saving money while on vacation comes down to a simple practice: budgeting. Before you leave, make note of how long you’ll be away and how much you’ll need while you’re there. You’ll want to set aside enough for meals, tips (if that’s a practice where you’re headed) and any other outings and experiences you may have planned for your trip.
Before you even book, start to set aside a set amount of money each month to ensure that you’ll have plenty by the time you leave. It’s also a good idea to bring a little more than you may need, just in case your luggage gets lost or money is stolen.
Keep track of your belongings
Storing your valuables in a hotel safe is always good practice, especially when visiting a foreign country. Also, exercise caution when it comes to your money. Be wary of pickpockets — particularly in big cities — looking to make an easy victim out of a tourist. Only take enough cash with you when you leave your hotel room to guarantee that you’ll have funds for each day. Avoid keeping your phone, cash or other belongings in your back pockets, and consider wearing a money pouch for especially touristy destinations.
Be aware of exchange rates
If you’re traveling to a foreign destination, you’ll want to exchange U.S. dollars for local currency, as well as notify your bank that you’ll be abroad. If you want to avoid hefty fees, you may want to exchange your money right at your local bank. Many banks offer exchange services to their customers — usually for a small fee.1 If you’d prefer to wait until you reach your destination to take out local currency, visit your bank’s ATM — you should be able to withdraw cash with a 1% to 3% fee. No matter which route take, keep the exchange rate in mind when making a purchase using an American debit/credit card. For example, at recent exchange rates something with a price tag of €1,000 in Europe will actually cost you $1,129.10.2 While this might not seem a massive difference, you should keep it in mind if you’re committed to saving money during your travels.