3 Steps to Save Money While Travelling

Are you saving up for an exotic vacation? Thinking of backpacking across Europe? How about exploring the Australian outback or an African safari? If travelling is in your near future, it pays to read up on tips and tricks to save money on unnecessary travel related fees and expenses. The less you pay in fees, the more money you have left over for fun stuff!


1. Foreign Exchange Fees

When travelling out of the country, exchanging your Canadian money into another currency is a necessity. It is usually recommended that you only carry a small amount of your destination country’s currency with you. But how can you pay for all of your expenses while travelling?
While traveller’s cheques used to be a popular option, many no longer accept them due to the high risk of counterfeit. Your debit card doesn’t always work abroad. The easiest and safest method of paying for your flights, hotel and meals is often a credit card.

When used out of country, your credit card company will charge a currency exchange rate. The costs of your purchases are converted to Canadian dollars. Although the exchange rate is usually done at current market value, most credit card issuers also charge an additional foreign exchange fee. Most companies in Canada build this extra fee right into your currency exchange rate, making it less noticeable on your bill. The standard fee in Canada is an extra 2.5 per cent, although credit card issuers may set their own rate.

Luckily, not all credit cards are equal. The card issuer, such as Scotiabank, Royal or Capital One, is the company who sets the foreign exchange fee, not Visa or Mastercard. A Visa with one issuer can have different fees as a Visa with a different issuer.

Using the right credit card is important when travelling. Look for a no-fee or lower-fee foreign exchange fee card. Chase Canada, for example, does not currently charge a foreign exchange fee. It’s important to read your credit card’s fine print as this fee can change at any time.

2. Baggage Fees

Many airline companies now charge a baggage fee for all checked luggage. When travelling, it’s important to know your airline’s policies and fees in order to avoid an expensive mistake. Some money saving tips include limiting yourself to carry-on luggage and making sure your suitcase doesn’t exceed the size and weight limits. It may also be cheaper to check two or three smaller suitcases than one or two oversized bags. If you need to bring a large amount of luggage, it may be less expensive to ship it to your destination ahead of time instead of bringing it onto the plane with you.

3. Cellphone Fees

Many Canadians have learnt the hard way about expensive out of country roaming cellphone fees. Although you may have a data plan, many cellphone carriers don’t include data usage in your plan if outside of Canada. Some carriers do offer a travel roaming package that can be used out of country so contact your carrier before you leave. Also make sure to turn off the data roaming function on your device. Look for free WiFi instead. You may want to consider buying a local cell phone or SIM card once you arrive at your destination as a way to reduce cell phone costs.