A password will be e-mailed to you.

Whether backpacker or flashpacker budget will often dictate your itinerary. A niggling voice in the back of your mind it sits behind a desk eliminating the things you can’t afford from your bucket list.

Getting creative with the way in which you handle your finances can optimise the potential of your funds.

OK let’s get creative.



  • We all know it’s great to recycle but this isn’t the kind of plastic collection I’m referring too. There are hundreds of credit and debit cards available to us all each offering various benefits.


  • Make your plastic work for you.


  • Ensure your card doesn’t charge you a loading fee. Most credit cards charge around a 3% fee on all foreign transactions but there are those that don’t. Find one that doesn’t and use it when you’re abroad.


  • Look out for cards that don’t charge an exchange fee every time you spend.


  • Spend on your credit card whenever possible. Credit cards give more protection from fraudulent transactions and you can often argue your case if you feel you’ve been scammed. Money spent on a debit card is immediately taken from your current account and is harder to recover.


  • If given the option to pay in your home or local currency while abroad pay in the local currency. Your credit card company will always give you a better rate than Joe Blogs at the souvenir shop.


  • If you’re travelling as a couple list your partner on your account and apply for an additional card.


  • Get internet banking to make international transfers and checking your balance a piece of cake.

Savvy Travel Finance Currency


  • Try and find a credit card with a reward scheme that will benefit you. We have one that converts our spending into points which we can then redeem as air miles.


  • Debit cards are preferable when it comes to withdrawing cash. Never withdraw cash on a credit card as you’ll be charged interest from the moment you take the money out of the machine.


  • Watch out for foreign ATM charges.


  • Make sure your card won’t charge a withdrawal fee.


  • Keep up to date with the exchange rate if spending your local currency abroad. Don’t be tempted to switch off, equate prices to your local currency before you spend.


  • If you’re travelling in a country on a visa that allows you to set up a bank account, take the opportunity and do so.


  • Using local currency is often preferable to spending the currency that is sat in the bank at home.


  • If you are able to set up a foreign account watch the exchange rate between your home currency and the one you are currently using. When the value of your home currency is strongest transfer any money you will need for the duration of your stay into your foreign account. Making a transfer in one lump sum will save you paying for regular small transfers.


  • Watching exchange rates is a frustrating game. Once you’ve made the transfer refrain from checking the rate again. You’ll only regret your decision if you see the rate has improved a week later.

Savvy Travel Finance Currency


  • Don’t forget that keeping your money in a high interest savings account while you’re not using it will earn you more to travel with. Decide what funds you don’t need immediately available and find a savings account that works for you.


  • Remember the longer you can commit the funds to savings the better the rate of interest you will accrue.


  • Don’t spend blind. Know your budget, and manage your spending. Read our Wanderlust Guide to Savvy Travel for some creative ways to save money while travelling.
  • Utilise your smart phone. Simon and Erin over at Never Ending Voyage have created a seriously savvy app called Trail Wallet that allows you to keep track of what you’re spending.


  • Invest in your stay, don’t rent and throw your money away.
  • Renting anything while travelling is waving goodbye to funds that could be recycled. Obviously for short term activities that require equipment renting makes sense. Any longer than a week consider the benefits of buying new or second hand and then selling on.


  • Road trip vehicles in particular are where money invested can be turned into a profitable return if you do your research and buy intelligently. Always consider buying something that you can renovate on the road.


  • Never leave arranging your finances until the last minute.


  • Check the expiry dates on your cards to ensure they are valid for the duration of your trip.


  • Airports are the worst place to exchange currency, your bank and ATM card will always give you a better exchange rate.


  • Consider how you will carry your cards and cash. Have a back up hidden in your luggage or on your person encase your primary source is lost or stolen.


  • Record the details of your cards in a secure document that you can locate online or have someone email to you.


  • Contact your bank and give them your itinerary to avoid having your card blocked once you start spending abroad.


  • Consider carrying a small amount of US dollars. It’s a universal currency that is recognisable all over the world.


ToniErin and Sofia all recommend taking a back up source of funds with you as finding your plastic won’t work abroad – even though the bank assured you it would –  can leave you in a pickle.

Patti agrees that informing your bank of your itinerary is vital when taking a trip abroad.

Will recommends the Australian GE Money 28 Degrees Credit Card which you can “pre-load” before taking out cash advances and avoiding paying any interest.

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As perpetual travellers we’re super switched on to savvy ways to make our money go further. If you’d like to add your own tips, leave us a comment in the box below.

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18 Responses

  1. Flynn

    I like what you guys are usually up too.
    This kind of clever work and coverage! Keep up the good works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to
    my personal blogroll.

  2. Ryan

    Funds that “could” be recycled aren’t necessarily funds that are going to end up recycled. Yes, you’re out the money on a rental purchase no matter what – but purchasing something outright to resell later very well could you leave you out of a much larger sum of money. This is especially true of more expensive/esoteric items, or items that experience a massive and immediate depreciation the minute you acquire them.

    There are no guarantees in life. Just because you managed to pick up, say, a second-hand snowboard on Craigslist to use for the week doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to offload it when you’re done with it. And if you’re traveling, just sitting on the aforementioned snowboard to sell later might not be an option because of the logistics associated with bringing it with you to your next destination.

    And even if you are absolutely confident that you can offload in time for that to not become an issue, there’s still the matter of having the funds tied up in your temporary purchase. Say you buy something for $1000 that you could have rented for $200 and are confident you can resell for that same $1000. Well, great, you “spent” nothing instead of $200, but until you manage to resell the item, your $1000 is tied up – and depending on how tightly you’ve planned out your budget, getting your $1000 back on Sunday isn’t going to help you when you need $50 of that $1000 on Thursday.

    Not to mention, fluctuating prices could hurt you just as much as they help you. If you find that the $200 rental item you bought for $1000 instead is only selling for $800 when you’re finished using it, well, you just ate the $200 rental cost anyway – only now you have the hassle of resale to deal with.

    Bottom line – renting may be a “guaranteed” loss, but buying now and selling later is a gamble, and as with all gambles, it has the potential to backfire. By all means, if you’re comfortable with the risk, I wouldn’t say “don’t buy” – but it’s hardly a slam dunk that it’ll always be the right call in the end.

    • Charli | Wanderlusters

      Thanks for your comment Ryan.

      You make some really good points here. As with all financial decisions you make in life they must be given plenty of thought and be something you yourself are comfortable with. We’ve highlighted techniques that work for us, and while we’re happy to share our experience with our readers, we love to hear other budget travel methods and opinions. We appreciate your comments and opinions, keep them coming!

  3. Will Jackson | The Bearded Wanderer

    I’m not sure about other cards in other countries but with my Australian GE Money 28 Degrees Card you can “pre-load” before taking out cash advances and so not pay any interest.

    What I mean is, I put extra money on the card BEFORE I spend it so I’m never in debt to the bank and therefore incur no interest, essentially treating it like a debit card.

    There’s some other benefits to the card, but I don’t want to turn this into an ad.

    Just might be something worth looking into.


  4. Wanderlusters

    Pingback: Wanderlust Guide: House Sitting Abroad | Wanderlusters

  5. Sofia

    The tip about getting a debit/credit card that doesn’t charge you every time you take out money from an ATM machine is invaluable, we learned that lesson the hard way unfortunately.

    Another thing I think is crucial is to bring at least two cards, in case one gets lost or doesn’t work.

    Nathan also learned this the hard way, getting stuck in Spain for a week sleeping in parks because his card wouldn’t work, haha.

  6. Erin

    Some great tips here. Having backup cards and some cash hidden in a separate place is so important. I’ve heard of too many travellers getting stuck after their card gets stolen.

    Thanks for the mention of Trail Wallet! We really hope it’s useful for travellers to keep them on budget. We’ve found it much more efficient than a notebook or spreadsheet.

    • Wanderlusters

      Thanks for stopping by Erin. Trail Wallet is a brilliant tool, it’s helped us stay on budget so we’re more than happy to feature it in our savvy finance guide.

  7. patti O

    Alerting the bank prior to travel is great idea for traveling anywhere, anytime. I know i have traveled and during a layover purchased something then crossing the time zone, landed and purchased something else, and my bank questioned the transactions.
    I had to admit i was a time traveler 😉
    Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Toni Nelson

    Great post. So many things to check when you travel. When we traveled out of the country we went to our bank to get a card we could use for our trip. We didn’t want to carry cash. The bank assured us the card would be good. Just in case we did take along some travelers checks. Good thing because the bank debit card did NOT work out of the states! Lesson learned!