<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=766060260189124&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

6 Things You Need To Know About Paying For Things Abroad

Posted by Emily Cummings on 3/23/17 9:04 AM

ILP Ukraine

A big part about traveling is shopping, right? From the rad street food to those souvenirs you can’t live without, you won’t get very far if you don’t know how to pay for things in a foreign country.

You know the drill here in America. You want to buy something, you check the price tag, and you pull out your debit or credit card…maybe not so much while living abroad. But don’t worry! We have the tips you need to make sure you are getting the best deal and won’t end up losing money — because we all love saving money.

Pst: Excited about living in a foreign country for a semester but wondering how to pay for it?  Get this free ebook about paying less to volunteer abroad

Follow along with this little checklist to make sure you are prepared to buy alllll the things no matter where you are traveling.

  • Tell Your Bank
  • Use Cash
  • The Deal With ATMs
  • What About Converting Cash?
  • Bargain
  • And Use The Right Wallet 

Tell Your Bank 

You don’t want your accounts to be frozen because you didn’t tell your bank you’d be traveling abroad. We’ll get to using your credit cards or debit cards abroad in just a minute, but before you even leave, tell your bank. Let them know how long you’ll be gone and what countries you’ll be visiting - don’t forget the countries you may have layovers in! Many banks freeze your account to protect you from fraud, but if they are expecting you to make purchases in another country you shouldn't have any problems with that.

Also, make sure your bank or branch is acceptable overseas. Some banks are local, meaning your card will be declined if you try to pay for something while in China. 

ILP Lithuania

Use Cash

You may buy everything with plastic at home, but cash is almost always the way to go while abroad! Your favorite little fruit stand is not going to have a card reader and even in fancy retail stores or malls, you may be charged an international fee because you will be using an American card, so avoid that fee by just paying with cash. Also, foreign money is so pretty — colorful, different sizes, different languages — it’s fun! 

That being said, still bring your debit or credit cards for a couple reasons. You can use them to pull out money from an ATM and buy train tickets online. Credit cards are also good to use in an emergency. But for the day to day purchases (like coconut ice cream in Thailand or finds from a Russian flea market, cash is the way to go). 

ILP Thailand

The Deal With ATMs

You can bring cash to convert over to the local currency, but that would mean traveling with a lot of cash…it’s just easier to use an ATM once you arrive in your country. Just so you know though, you will be charged a fee each time you pull out money so I’d suggest making a larger withdrawal to last you longer instead of going to the ATM every week. We have more tips on how to use an international ATM right here. 

ILP Poland

What About Converting Cash? 

If you do bring American dollars to use while abroad, no worries! You can go to a bank or money changer to get those bills into the local currency.  Make sure the bills you bring are newer and in great shape (no tears or rips) or the local bank or money changer might not take them. Also, some of these places will require a passport or a copy of it so be prepared.  There's also a fee to exchange your money, so be prepared for that.

ILP Mexico

Bargain 

Head’s up for those of you who want to save some money…oh, isn’t that everyone? Learning how to bargain in your country is a huge way to save some serious cash. The first tip is to decide whether or not you can bargain — it would be rude to haggle down the price at a fixed price store, but outdoor markets are usually free game. Decide how much you want to pay for something and see if you can haggle things down to meet your price. Just remember — you can always raise your price, but you can’t ever go lower. 

To get you started, we have bargaining tips for our volunteers living in China right here and the key to getting a great price at this amazing leather shop in the Dominican Republic. 

ILP Dominican Republic

And Use The Right Wallet

Your cute and compact wallet that fits an ID and credit card is a great option for traveling in the US, but not so much while abroad…especially if you are paying in cash. Make sure you bring the right kind of wallet with you when you travel so you can have room for your foreign cash. A coin purse is also a good idea to bring; I’ve paid for a full dinner just using coins when traveling in Asia. 

ILP Thailand

I’d give you a list of all the things you can buy while traveling abroad, but I really don’t think you need that much help in that category. From these souvenirs in Eastern Europe to all the things at those darling Mexican markets, you will be all set to buy whatever you want!

And if you need more money saving tips, come check out our blog...and if you really want to put your bargaining skills to the test, think about  volunteering with ILP in China! 

New Call-to-action 

Topics: Travel Tips, Saving Money

Exploring The World For Over 25 Years

Over the years of assisting more than 6,000 volunteers in their desire to travel and make a difference in the lives of others, ILP has seen what works and what doesn't.

We've gathered our tips here for making your semester abroad a successful one.

kenny-1.jpg

Popular Posts

Subscribe to Email Updates