5 Tips for Traveling with Credit Cards

 

“5 Tips for Traveling with Credit Cards”

by AJ Smith via “Yahoo!”

Whether your passport needs additional pages to accommodate all your stamps or you are planning your first big cross-country trip, it’s important to take care of credit card prep before you pack. Knowing the essentials for traveling with credit cards can help you avoid problems and enjoy your experience.

 

1. Choose Your Card(s) Wisely

Deciding on a card can be intimidating, but some options can help maximize your travel experiences. It’s a good idea to find out what kind of travel perks you could be getting — from concierge services and free flight luggage check-ins to rental car or hotel discounts and medical travel insurance. In addition, it’s good to know what emergency preparations are in place and if your credit or debit card will give you a fair exchange rate. Since you will likely be spending more money than usual, it’s a good idea to use the cards that generate the most valuable rewards. Before you apply for a reward card, it’s also helpful to check your credit score to see if you meet the issuer’s requirements — and apply only for cards you’re more likely to be approved for. (You can see your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

2. Call Ahead

Just as you tell your loved ones before you head out on a trip, it’s important to let your credit card issuers know of your plans. Most companies regularly monitor your spending for fraud and if they notice several purchases that do not align with your normal location or behavior, they might shut down or suspend your card. Give the 800 number on the back of your card a ring and share your destination and travel dates so you don’t get stuck without credit when you need it most.

3. Learn the Fees

Traveling abroad can open you up to a whole new set of bank fees so it’s a good idea to get educated. See if your card incurs foreign transaction fees or excessive ATM fees so you can avoid them or build them into your budget. With a little research, you’ll know how you can shop smartly abroad.

4. Research Restrictions

Some issuers have restrictions on cards being used outside your normal purchasing pattern. This especially affects travel outside the U.S. and can include daily spending or withdrawal limits, so call ahead to ask about these rules and how to lift them for the duration of your travel. . . .

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How to Study Abroad in Europe Without Breaking The Bank

“How to Study Abroad in Europe Without Breaking The Bank”

by Robert Montenegro via “Big Think”

Abroad

Studying abroad is awesome. Anyone who has the opportunity to do so yet opts not to is really missing out. I personally believe immersing yourself in another culture makes you a better, more empathetic person. It’s the whole “seeing the world through other people’s eyes” thing. The whole experience is also loads of fun and, depending on how you play your cards, a relatively affordable way to see parts of the world you’d otherwise not be able to visit.

Across the pond in the UK, the British Council supports its exchange students in Europe through the Erasmus+ program.The Guardian’s Daisy Lacey has a piece on that site right now offering advice to young Britons utilizing their Erasmus grants and living in the Euro zone for the first time. Some of her tips are also applicable to us Yanks. For example, it makes little sense to pay major fees to operate your mobile abroad. Instead, it’s good idea to purchase a go-phone or local SIM card instead. Lacey also recommends opening a bank account in your host country. That’s one way to bank for cheap. Back in 2009 before I spent a semester in Germany, I opened a Bank of America account back home because B of A has an agreement with Deutsche Bank wherein account holders can use either bank’s ATMs sans fee. Do a little research and see if you’ve got a similar hook-up with where you’re heading. You can always close the extraneous account later if necessary.

My program in Germany was designed so that independent travel around the continent was encouraged. Lacey recommends looking into discounted ticket programs through Eurail, Megabus, and other outlets. Cheap flights can be had via airlines like Ryanair, though always be on the lookout for hidden fees. Ryanair is also notorious for flying out of and into airstrips in the middle of nowhere, so make sure you’re not expecting your flight to land somewhere it won’t. Still, €5 to fly anywhere can be worth a trip on the scenic route. You could also look into blind bookings offered by airlines such as Germanwings. For a flat fee, the airline will roll a dice and send you to a random destination. It’s great for the spontaneous types. . . .

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Study Abroad: Making the Move

“Study Abroad: Making the Move”

by James Connington via “Telegraph

University year abroad: be prepared to head outside your comfort zone

When I signed up to go and live in a country where I don’t speak the main language, I figured that some embarrassment might be involved – at least in the first few weeks anyway.

What I didn’t bargain on was how quickly or frequently this would occur, which was a little overwhelming for my sleep deprived self after a 3:30am start.

My first venture into Bonn left a trail of bemused and angry waitresses, checkout assistants, taxi drivers and mobile network employees in my wake.

It also quickly became clear that things I thought I had sorted were, in fact, not; such as there being somebody to get keys from at my accommodation.

Thankfully, an extremely helpful Jordanian student was able to translate my absentee building manager’s voicemail, which told me that he was away. A quick TripAdvisor search secured me a hotel for the night and, aside from the financial setback, I was none the worse for wear.

There is, however, a point to these ramblings, beyond giving you something to laugh at. I’ve travelled a fair amount, and as a result of this I thought I was beyond prepared, I thought that I would breeze through any culture shock and instantly acclimatise.

As I discovered, this can be a risky attitude to take.

Some lessons can be learned from my mistakes. First of all don’t get complacent; if there’s any ambiguity in the arrangements for your arrival, then get them clarified (this may involve you annoying some people). . . . .

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4 signs you should NOT study abroad

“4 signs you should NOT study abroad”

by Varsity Tutors via “USA Today College”

ParisStudyAbroad

As you likely realize, studying abroad is a popular educational experience. Many colleges and universities offer an array of interesting overseas programs, and they encourage their students to take advantage at least once during the course of their academic careers.

Study abroad programs range in duration from several days to a year — or, in rare instances, longer. They take place in virtually every country and on every continent (including Antarctica!).

You may wonder if you should study abroad, but before you begin packing your bags, check for the following four signs that may indicate an overseas experience is not for you.

1. You easily become homesick

Certain individuals simply do not enjoy being far from home for long periods of time. It can be difficult to leave your family members, friends—and pets!—for months or weeks. Prolonged feelings of homesickness can cause anxiety and emotional distress, which can sometimes lead to physical illness. None of this is pleasant to experience, especially if you are living abroad. These negative feelings can often be overcome with stress management techniques like deep breathing. It is also likely that you will have an instructor or classmates present on your trip who can help you cope with these feelings. However, you may wish to rethink an overseas experience if you have had persistent trouble with homesickness in the past.

2. You dislike change and uncertainty

Studying abroad will force you out of your comfort zone. Your day-to-day experiences, no matter how well planned, will be at least somewhat unpredictable as you attempt to navigate life in a foreign country. While overseas, you will likely encounter customs, food and languages far different from those to which you are accustomed. A dislike of change and uncertainty can contribute to stress, just like homesickness. If you are easily upset by unpredictable and unfamiliar situations, studying abroad is perhaps not the best idea. . . . .

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“Tips for International Travel”

“Tips for International Travel”

By Samantha Brown via “AARP”

Two back-to-back international trips this year — to Germany and South Africa — gave me a good reason to brush up on my world-traveler skills. Here are the main things I think about when I’m planning a trip abroad.

Tourist in Paris, FrancePhoning home. How I am going to communicate? I mainly use Skype. It’s an easy, inexpensive way to make international calls. There are similar applications for phones, including Viber and WhatsApp, that allow you to text, call and send photos and videos for free as long as you have Wi-Fi or a data plan. A word to the wise: Don’t take easy-to-find free Wi-Fi for granted outside the U.S.

Using the Internet. To manage my cellphone data usage, I go to my carrier’s website and purchase an international plan for $30 (which gives me 120MB). Each time I go over that, I’m automatically charged another $30. But that protects me from future bill-opening sticker shock when I realize it cost me 82 bucks to view that cute baby video my best friend sent me!

Baggage weight. If you’re flying on a regional carrier, make sure you look into the airline’s specific baggage guidelines. In Europe, for instance, your carry-on might be weighed. I know, horrors! You could be charged hefty fees for bags that weigh more than 30 pounds. I’ve never met any of you, but I know there’s a good chance your carry-on weighs more than that.

Passport. I always bring a photocopy of my passport, and I also keep a picture of it on my phone.

Currency. Don’t sweat the exchange. You don’t need cash when you arrive in the airport, nor do you need the official currency exchange counter. An airport ATM is the best and least expensive way to get cash with your debit or credit card. . . . .

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“17 Tips for Studying Abroad!”

“17 Tips for Studying Abroad!”

by Stacey Lindsay via “Seventeen

Be a Copycat

Dando, Wegscheider and Stephenson all recommend making copies of your passport — print out several to bring with you, and email a scanned copy to yourself. “That way, if you lose it, you can always go to an Internet café and print it out,” says Stephenson. This applies for other essential documentation as well: “I’ll scan my travel information and all itineraries and send to Google documents or a shared site,” says Wegscheider.

Purse Patrol

For carrying essentials, a smaller cross body bag is ideal, according to Wegscheider and Stephenson. Be sure to keep it close to your body, or on your lap if you are at a club or restaurant — never put in on the back of your chair or on the floor! “I have known so many people who have had their wallets stolen out of their bags when it was at their feet,” says Stephenson. 

Learn About Foreign Traffic Safety

Road accidents for passengers and pedestrians are a serious matter, both here and abroad. Perhaps even more so in a country where traffic comes from the other direction! Check out the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) and Sara’s Wish Foundation for helpful info. . . . .

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Ban the Hugs: Studying Abroad, American-Style

Ban the Hugs: Studying Abroad, American-Style

by Alexandra Talty via “Forbes

I was 18 years old with my three other newfound friends and we were quite literally stuck in the steep cliffs of Cinqueterra, Italy. Our fifth friend floundered below us, off the main path and unable to get back to us. What began as a kind gesture to rescue our friend’s camera off the cliff below turned into a three-hour rescue mission that included five policemen, a boat with a flood light, a helicopter and a rappelling rock climb rescue. Plus the twenty-odd Italian spectators.  It was my second week studying abroad in Florence, Italy.

Although it was my last encounter with the Italian police, it was a classic welcome to the fickle nature of study abroad, where when you try to go to the safe, touristic destination your friend gets stuck on a cliff. There are a lot of aspects of the study abroad experience that can be intimidating. Everything from how to cross the road to  greetings (Americans, take note: kisses!) is different. Added into the mix is the fact that you are thousands of miles away from home, without your usual familial or friend support system. It is a lot. However, most students who have had successful study abroad experiences recommend one thing: saying yes.

Caroline Guenther at the Great Wall of China during her junior year of high school. She spent a year in Beijing through School Year Abroad. Photo credit: Caroline Guenther.

“There are so many ways you can fall back into your comfort zone,” says James Storch, a Senior Associate at Morningside Translations, who spent the summer of 2008 in Berlin and Heidelberg, Germany. “When you are abroad, you have the opportunity to live and discover a place for a finite amount of time, it is especially important to say yes to an invitation or an event that comes up. Even if you are not feeling particularly up for it or necessarily interested in it.”

While this might take you to a heavy metal concert in an abandoned elementary school that, shockingly, was not as fun as you had imagined, it could also lead to high points, like exploring the Northern Italian countryside during a wine festival in Trieste.

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