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Travel Notes

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Travelers should take precautions and plan finances prior to an international trip

by Linda Strait

When traveling internationally, there are many things to consider in preparation for your trip.

One of the most important is how to handle your money. The following tips were learned from the personal experience of myself, our agents and our clients. I hope you find them helpful.

?Arrange funds in a variety of forms to take with you.

?Have cash in local currency for the first few days, especially if you arrive on a Friday or a weekend.

?Consider taking traveler's checks in the currency of the country you are visiting.

?When ordering traveler's checks, get advice on the most appropriate currency for the country you are visiting, and take sensible denominations. Make sure serial numbers are kept separate from traveler's checks and keep a record of where you cash them.

?Do make sure you have sufficient funds available on your credit card, and check that you have paid any outstanding balance. And, if necessary, increase your credit limit. Memorize your personal identification number, and make a note of telephone numbers you will need in case of loss. Don't carry more cash than you need.

?Wear a discreet money belt under a sweatshirt or jacket. If you are traveling as a couple or in a group, split the money between you.

Do the same with credit cards (let one person carry the cash and the other the credit cards).

?Paying bills: Credit card fraud is widespread. If you are paying with a credit card, keep an eye on the transaction and keep all the receipts. Don't give your card number over the telephone unless booking with an organization you trust.

?Check commission charges on traveler's checks; they can be high. It may be wise to cash more of them at a time.

?Change money only at banks or official bureau de change booths (airports are generally expensive). It is worthwhile to compare exchange rates and commission charges. Check at different outlets. Do ensure you have been given the right amount of local currency before leaving.

?Be vigilant when using cash machines.

?Change foreign currency at banks or bureau de change booths on departure. You will get a better rate, and they will accept your foreign coins as well.

?If in spite of all your planning, you find yourself strapped for cash, try getting a cash advance on your credit card. The local numbers are listed in the local phone books.

?Check before your departure to see if there is a Western Union number in the country you will be visiting. Money can be wired from home.

?Handbag snatchers prey on everyone especially tourists. Make sure all of your cash and valuables are secure on your person and watch out for curbside snatchers.

?Pickpockets: watch out for people trying to distract you. They may be after your cash. Don't sling bags behind your back where you can't see them.

?Use the hotel safe if one is available.

?Carry ID with you at all times.

?Don't wear expensive jewelry or leave belongings, such as cameras, exposed, especially at cafe tables.

If you have money tips to share that you don't see listed here, please contact me and I will add them to my list. Safe travels!

(Linda Strait is president of House of Travel Inc., a full-service travel agency in Springfield.)

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