8 Financial Tips for Teenagers Travelling Abroad

financial tips for traveling teens

Whether for leisure, self-discovery, or the pursuit of greater education, travelling abroad is an unforgettable experience. This is especially true for teenagers, as they get to see the world in a new and eye-opening light. While travelling has its benefits, it's not without its fair share of constraints. One of the most prominent challenges for people when travelling is the cost of the trip itself. From accommodation and airfare to daily necessities, travelling can be a notorious cash drain—and many people return home with next to nothing in their bank account. And for teenagers who are often financially strapped, this notion is especially true.

8 Financial Tips for Teenagers Travelling Abroad

That said, it's not impossible to enjoy your time overseas. With a little forethought and some strategic pre-planning, anyone—including teens—can enjoy their time abroad while still keeping their financial health intact. Get ready! Here are eight financial tips teenagers can make the most of when traveling abroad.

#1. Prepare a Budget!

Before you travel, make a budget with a maximum spending allowance. The earlier you can make one, the better. You can deposit the money in a separate travel fund banking account for extra discipline. As much as possible, don’t try to exceed this budget. The budget amount should match the relative cost of your intended destination.  Whether you plan to travel around Southeast Asia or Europe, look at the airfare costs and the cost of accommodation, transport, and food in the area. Two cities can have completely different average daily costs—so research ahead of time. And for low-cost-of-living regions like South America and Southeast Asia, while the daily expenses may be cheaper than what you’re accustomed to, airfare will likely make up the bulk of your expenses.

financial tips for traveling teenagers

So don’t assume you can just splurge with little regard for your financial health. Furthermore, consider the length of stay. If you’re staying for just four days to a week, you can consider planning a daily expense chart that you can follow to keep your expenses on track. Any longer, and you may have to set a maximum range instead. In any case, having a budget helps simplify financial tracking when abroad. This, in turn, can help you stay on top of your finances and also gives you clarity on your financial status at any given point before and during the trip.

#2. Bring an Emergency Fund!

When you’re abroad, you won’t exactly be in your element. Many of the places, people, and processes are very likely going to be unfamiliar to you. And no matter if you’re in a safe and sleepy town or a hectic one, a lot of things can go wrong when overseas. To de-risk yourself, be sure to have an emergency store of cash with you. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money—just enough to cover daily expenses or bring you from one place to another. Click here to learn more ways how to manage your money as a teen. Be sure to keep this emergency fund somewhere hidden near your body. Don’t put it in your wallet. Don’t put it in an easily accessible place in your backpack either. You can put it deep inside your luggage or a hidden zip in your day bag, for instance. By having an emergency fund, you can have a fallback in case you end up in a financial pinch. Alternatively, if you have two credit cards, you can also bring an extra credit card hidden somewhere inside your day pack—just be sure that it can be used overseas.

#3. Go on Free Walking Tours!

If you’re traveling for leisure, a great way to spend your time in a new country or city is by going on tip-based walking tours. Locals run these tours and take you around the touristy parts of a city. These local guides are informed with local knowledge about the spots you visit, which can be a great way to know the history behind key places of your destination. The best part is that these tours are entirely tip-based—meaning you don’t have to pay an exorbitant amount to get a local and immersive experience. Furthermore, you can also interact with your guide and other guests and ask them questions about the city in more detail, which can be a great way to expand your knowledge of the cultural aspects (or other top tourist spots) of your destination. All without spending a whole lot!

#4. Use Public Transportation!

While it can be convenient to hail rideshare apps, tour buses, and taxis, a good way for teenagers to save more money while travelling is by using public transportation. If your intended destination has a robust public transportation network, then go ahead and take advantage of it. While it might take a little bit more time to get to your destination, this can be the difference in spending $1 or $15 for a trip.

financial advice for traveling teenagers

If you plan to stay longer in a city for education purposes, then consider getting a student discount card to shave off 20% or more on your daily fares.Transportation costs can add up, especially if you’re moving from city to city or commuting regularly. If you want to keep your costs at a minimum, refrain from using taxis or rideshare apps. That said, you should also research more about the public transportation culture of the area you’re visiting to ensure that you’re paying the right amount for any ride.

#5. Stay in Hostels or Budget Dorms!

Unless your stay is shouldered by your family, company, or friends, then you should look into staying in cheap accommodation as much as possible. A nice hotel can be comfortable, but it can also be expensive — especially in high-cost-of-living areas. Hostels provide not just cheap accommodation, but they can also serve as premier spots to make friends with other travellers and get some recommendations on local spots to hit up. Also, don't forget that another cheap option is house sitting.

#6. Change Your Currency Outside The Airport!

A good rule of thumb is to exchange your money anywhere that's not the airports. Airport currency exchange centres tend to have a huge markup in their exchange rates, leaving you shorter than you otherwise would have been if you exchange your currency elsewhere. Look for local and authorised currency exchange centres in malls and public areas for better rates. Be sure to vet around and look at how much you’ve gotten to ensure you’re getting the right amount.

financial advice for traveling teens

Alternatively, if you have a debit card you can simply withdraw your money from a local ATM. Just tell your banking provider in advance of your travel so that they can authorise foreign withdrawals. Don’t let the ATM auto-convert as that can lower your withdrawal amount too, pick the other option so your bank chooses the rate instead.

#7. Get Travel Insurance!

Travel insurance may seem like a needless expense, but it’s a lifesaver if you find yourself in an emergency. Anything can happen abroad, and you’re not exempt from being an unfortunate victim of theft, injuries, or losses. When this happens, having a travel insurance policy is a lifesaver since it helps you gain back the financial equivalent of your losses, should the claim be successful. Conversely, if you lack insurance coverage, you can spend upwards of hundreds to thousands of dollars. And on top of the unfortunate experience you’re already facing, this can be too much to bear. As such, be sure to get a solid travel insurance policy with ample coverage. If you’re going to multiple countries during the trip, be sure to specify that to your insurance provider.

#8. Learn The Local Business Practices!

Planning to buy souvenirs for people back home? Nothing beats some local goods from souvenir shops. But if you intend to save up, don’t just go inside any locally-owned store and purchase whatever you find nice. Some countries have a strong negotiation culture—and as a foreigner, you must get ready to be persistent and attempt to negotiate with merchants and vendors if you want to save up cash. Furthermore, some local stores may have strict prices, but they could be overpriced because of their general location. If you want to find cheaper alternatives, consider going to less frequented areas and doing your souvenir shopping there. This can save you 10 to 20% of your total costs.

What about you, how do you take care of your finances when travelling abroad? Feel free to share any tips & advice below!

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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