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The cost of winging it with your travel money


Lack of planning sees more than half of all Aussie travellers returning home with a debt of $1,554 each, according to new research from the Commonwealth Bank.

The research showed that 26% of Australians don’t save money before they go away and 21% travel without a budget, which contributed to a collective travel debt of $4.6 billion in 2017. It also revealed the main culprits for travel debt are shopping sprees (60%), unplanned dining and drinking (50%) and last-minute day trips and experiences (47%).

The extra cost of this spending also comes as a rude shock for many people, with only one in three (36%) travellers checking their spending each day while they’re away.

Commonwealth Bank’s general manager of everyday banking and payments, Michael Baumann, said research and planning can help you keep unexpected costs in check when you’re overseas.

“It’s always advisable to set aside emergency savings that can easily be accessed or transferred from your mobile banking app to your Travel Money Card when unexpected situations arise,” he said.

“It’s also important that travellers are realistic about what they can afford while travelling and keep track of their spending to ensure they are sticking to their holiday budget.”

This includes checking how much money you have left in the last few days of your trip as that’s when two-thirds (67%) of Aussies are most likely to throw budgets out the window.

Before you go overseas, it’s also important to decide exactly what type of travel money you want to take.

For example, getting a travel card that allows you to load and spend in different currencies gives you a way to lock-in exchange rates so that you know how much spending money you have. On the other hand, your regular credit card or debit card could be useful if you need to access extra funds, while you can use foreign cash whenever cards are not accepted (or if there’s a card fee you want to avoid).

In most cases, a combination of cash and cards means you’ll be able to spend your money in most situations. Taking the time to compare your options before you go also means you can keep extra costs, such as card or ATM fees, to a minimum when you’re away so that you can make the most of your money.

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