Travel Advice and Budgeting Tips

group of people enjoying an outdoor event

Once I had everything set for my seminar, there was one thing that I was still really stressed out about: How much money to bring. When I asked others for budgeting tips, people responded with, “Well, it depends on how much you want to spend.” – which doesn’t really help.

You’re going to a different environment which has a different currency and a different price level. Prior to IBS, I hadn’t traveled abroad or purchased anything with a currency other than dollars. How was I supposed to know how much I want to spend? I assume I’m not the only one that has encountered this problem.

Here are some budgeting tips that I learned from my seminar:

  • The amount of money you are going to spend really depends on where you’re going. For example: If I were going to Europe, I would plan on spending more because the general cost of things is relatively higher. However, if I were going to Southeast Asia or China, I would plan on spending less on things.
  • I suggest planning as if you were to eat out for every meal. That doesn’t mean you have to or will be, but it’s a good way to plan. Once I was on my trip, I realized no one cooked or went for cheap meals. Keep in mind that you’ll most likely be spending more money than if you were at abroad adventures
  • Although food will probably be your greatest expense, you can’t forget about the souvenirs and excursions. I recommend picking a limit you want to spend on souvenirs and stick to that. But when it comes to excursions, make sure you have some extra money set aside. You’ll regret not doing that once-in-a-lifetime experience just because of the price tag.

What type of money should you bring?

Finally, what type of money should you bring? Again, it depends on where you will go. Europe takes credit card pretty much everywhere. But in other parts of the world, cash is more common.

  • I found using credit/debit cards to be the easiest and safest way to manage money while abroad. However, keep in mind that most credit cards will charge a transaction fee. Don’t forget you will need to tell your credit/debit provider that you will be out of the country. If you don’t, they will flag your account for suspicious activity and you won’t be able to buy abroad students eating dinner
  • Cash was needed for simple things, like going to the bathroom (yes, you have to pay to use the bathroom in Europe). In Europe, there were very few restaurants that let us pay on separate tickets. After most dinners, we struggled to split the bill between all of us.
  • It’s important to know which currencies you’ll be using prior to leaving. You can get foreign currency from your bank or exchange cash when you arrive at the airport. Don’t be afraid of fees associated with ATMs or currency conversion places. It isn’t worth having too much currency with the risk of it getting stolen.

So, what I did was I took a credit card, debit card, a few hundred in Euros (accepted by 4 out of the 6 countries I went) and a few hundred in American dollars. I used the credit card for as much as I could. When my cash was up, I found an ATM and obtained local currency. Most importantly, I kept minimal currency with me and left the rest in the safe in my hotel.

I hope my travel advice and budgeting tips will help you prepare for your seminar!

Walter Scott

School: Louisiana State University

IBS does a great job at providing an opportunity for you to gain your own global perspective. I've never had more fun or learned more from anything before this program.

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