The thought of your first trip out of Australia can sometimes be as daunting as it is exciting. With the cost of airfares, hotels and travel insurance swirling around your head, the option just to stay at home can seem a bit more headache-free.
You’re not alone in feeling this. A recent report by Skyscanner found that almost half (48%) of first-time Aussie travellers believed that scraping up enough money to fund their trip to be their key worry.
On top of that, there’s the confusion of whether to take out a personal loan to fund your trip and which travel money card to carry with you on your first overseas journey.
Mozo’s Director Kirsty Lamont said, “cost and financial planning are some of the biggest things holding Aussies back from going overseas to experience countries full of culture and history. Although there’s no doubt that travelling is a privilege and saving up for a trip is important, there are other ways to make it possible if saving up isn’t getting you there quick enough.”
And with the Skyscanner survey also revealing that more than three-quarters (78%) of globetrotters considered their first overseas trip to be an “exciting” experience, it’s better you don’t miss out.
So to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed and quit before you’ve even started, here are some things to consider when organising your travel money for the first time.
For first time travellers looking to load a number of different currencies or access their money cheaply and safely, a prepaid travel card could be the plastic for you. Before you leave, you can lock in a great exchange rate and not worry about the fluctuating Aussie dollar, plus have a good idea of where your budget stands. Also, given that it’s not a card for general banking needs, there’s less risk if it’s stolen as your savings or salary aren’t accessible. Keep in mind, if you exhaust your budget and need to reload the card, there could be fees involved, which isn’t ideal in an emergency when you need extra cash fast.
Most Aussies already have one, but as debit cards run on Mastercard or Visa networks, it means your card can be used at checkouts and ATMs all over the world. Plus, you've got access to all your savings, which is great in emergency situations. However, you're not going to wind up in debt like you might with a credit card. So if you’re planning on sticking to a budget while on your first overseas holiday, using a debit card may be an option for you.
Although credit card annual fees can be on the more expensive side, there’s a wide range of reasons why you may consider bringing one with you on your first trip overseas. Many travel credit cards come with competitive foreign exchange fees, rewards bonus points and also perks like complimentary concierge services, discounted travel services and even free travel overseas insurance. And just like debit cards, they can be used at checkouts and ATMs across the globe. Although, you want to make sure you’re a responsible person when it comes to finances, otherwise you could run the risk of getting into debt.
If savings won’t cut it, Aussies often toss up between two borrowing types - a credit card or a personal loan, otherwise known as a ‘travel loan’ - to fund their trip. A travel loan is just like any other personal loan where you borrow a certain amount of money to go towards your holiday and pay it back over time, including any interest or other fees.
There are several different options to choose from when selecting a personal loan for travel, ranging from a secured loan with lower rates and fees to a fixed interest rate loan where you can lock in your rate. So make sure you shop around for the best travel loan for you and take into consideration good rates, flexible repayments and low fees.
When compared to a credit card, personal loans for travel give you the benefits of borrowing a larger sum of money and pay it back over a longer period of time and also there’s no temptation to keep spending as could happen with a credit card.
Along with funding the big-ticket spends of the trip and working out what travel money card you’ll be packing in your suitcase, sorting out travel insurance should be the third step in every traveller’s holy trinity. Otherwise, how do you make sure your finances, personal belongings and most importantly your health are covered when you’re halfway around the world?
Although it’s not compulsory, having travel insurance means you usually don’t have to pay for out of pocket expenses overseas including flight cancellations, lost luggage or even emergency medical bills which can reach well into the thousands.
Travel insurance comes in three levels - basic, standard and comprehensive - depending on what cover suits you, but keep in mind each policy is different, so always take the time to read the fine print to understand what you’re covered for.
So now that you’ve wrapped your head around the fundamentals of travel money planning before your first big trip abroad, check out our travel money hub with everything from travel card comparisons, foreign exchange calculators and travel insurance options.