Monthly Archives: May 2019

What to Do About Money Overseas

Money is one of the top three questions i get asked about by future travelers, particularly those who have not traveled before.  I’ll share with you what works best for me.  You may find something better and if you do, please share with all of us.

Debit Cards – To begin with, I encourage all of you to establish a checking account with Charles Schwab so that you then have access to their ATM card which doesn’t charge you for using a foreign ATM (they reimburse you for charges) as well as having no fees for currency conversion.  It’s a winner in my mind.  You do not have to set up a brokerage account in order to have a checking account with them.  They DO want to know where and when you are traveling so make sure you tell them.  In addition, I set a limit of how much can be withdrawn daily to minimize my loss due to a lost or stolen card.  I do that when I call to give them my travel plans.  For safety sake, I bring a second debit card just in case the ATM eats my card or it gets stolen.

Currency – Before I arrive in a foreign country, I always get some of their local currency by ordering it at my bank.  The only problem I ever had was not being able to get currency for Argentina and that is also a problem within Argentina.  I do not ever want to go into a country and not have acceptable currency.  Of course, using my Schwab debit card I can always get more when I need it.

Credit Cards – I use a Chase credit card that has no foreign fee charges.  There are enough cards out there that you should have one of them in your wallet.  If you are just starting out, I recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred which will give you Ultimate Reward points to transfer to a number of different airlines and hotels. The first year the fee is waived but after that you’ll pay a fee of around $99.   If you travel a lot, then I would upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card whose first year fee of $450 is not waived.  Before you automatically dismiss it let me explain why I have that card in my wallet.  This card offers three points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants and one point per dollar on all other purchases.  This card offers excellent benefits, including a $300 annual travel credit, fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, airport lounge access, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, an auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage reimbursement, trip delay reimbursement, purchase protection, return protection and extended warranty protection.  That’s a lot of bang for the buck.  When you subtract the $300 annual credit then the card is really only $150.  I’ve used the Priority Lounge pass benefit in several different airports.  It is a great way to spend hours before your flight in chairs more comfortable than in the concourse, fresh food both hot and cold (generally) for no charge.  I’ve also used the showers in the lounges. I’ve used the trip cancellation when I broke my arm a couple of months ago and neither I nor my husband could travel. I have also used it to pay for the Global Entry.  I think I am about even or even better than that with this card.

Currency Conversion – When using your credit card, the merchant may ask you if you want to be charge in local currency or US dollars.  Always, always say local currency. The merchant can charge a commission for the conversion and you do not know what rates they are using for the conversion.  You want to pay in local currency.  Got that!

When I am traveling to several countries with different currencies, I always make myself a cheat sheet.  I’ll have a chart in US dollars and then next to the dollars I’ll find our what the euro conversion is, the peso conversion, the Swiss francs, etc.  I get this information from XE Currency Conversion

Remember to always have some coins for the public restrooms.  I have found that they are usually fifty cent or seventy cent euros coins.  If you can’t find a public restroom, go into a small store and purchase something – then you can use their restrooms for free.

Hope this helps answer some questions you may have.

 

 

 

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Injury While Trying to Stay Safe While Traveling

It’s been a bit since I last wrote this blog but I have a good excuse.  I fell down a couple of stairs in our house and suffered three fractures in my upper humerus (arm bone) right where my arm meets my shoulder.  Being right handed and in plenty of pain there was basically nothing I could do.  I followed doctor’s orders to do nothing so the fractures could heal.  Last week, after six weeks in a sling to immobilize my arm to let it heal, I was finally sling free!.  Someone forgot to tell my arm as it still automatically hangs across my body like it did when I was in a sling.  I had high expectations for myself when the sling came off which were unrealistic.  I still am sleeping in the recliner (we have a love have relationship with each other),  a full night’s sleep still eludes me, pain is still there with movement – sometimes low pain and sometimes high pain.  I still need help getting dressed which is depressing to me.  I can’t drive so my freedom is sorely limited though I totally appreciate my husband for taking me to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy twice a week, pedicure so I could get my nails cut and the hairdressers.  For four weeks I went to PT for passive therapy here they move me and within the last week I have moved to active assisted therapy.  I didn’t realize in therapy how many cuss words I know!  So that is the short of it other than waiting till the end of June to have an MRI to see if I have torn my rotator cuff and whether I will need surgery.  The fall that keeps giving.

With this  accident Blogger Hubby and I had to cancel our two weeks Tauck tour we had scheduled for Portugal and Spain.  Fortunately Tauck has amazing trip insurance and we received all of our money back except for the insurance of which they will hold for us for a future trip with them.  I had the credit to my credit card within 48 hours of cancellation.  No doctor’s note needed – it was cancel for any reason and we were within a month of the trip.  High praise to Tauck!

I have another trip which I am not cancelling even though I will still be recovering.  I am traveling with a friend to Barcelona for a couple of days on or own prior to embarking on an Oceania cruise to Rome.  I’ve never done the western Mediterranean so I am excited about going to ports that I haven’t been to before, for the most part.

This all brings a certain dilemma that I need to face – my security for my belongings while traveling.  Usually I have no fear, I have not been pickpocketed or had anything stolen from me but this time my right arm will be still be recovering and I will not have much range of motion or any strength in the arm so I need to up my game.   I’m going to show you what I will be bringing with me.  I have added links to make it easier for you – I do not benefit if you purchase.

No longer will I be able to hold on tight to me Pac Safe/Travelon  purse    I have this purse in the color shown as well as a light grey.  It can hold my water bottle on the outside which is always a great help.  I will still take it with me, wear it messenger bag style and hang on as tight as I can with my good arm.

pacsafe bag

I am trying a new product based on my limitations – a tank shirt that I can wear under another shirt.  The tank has a zipped pocket in the front.  I have not tried it on yet but the fabric seems like a nice quality of knit.  Just another layer of protection.Screen Shot 2019-05-04 at 2.25.12 PMI’ve mentioned these before but there are ladies scarves that have a built in pocket.  Once again Amazon to the rescueScreen Shot 2018-06-17 at 3.52.11 PMScreen Shot 2018-06-17 at 3.45.17 PM

Another new item in my travel box is ladies underwear with a secret pocketScreen Shot 2019-05-04 at 2.34.17 PM

For the men, here are some boxers with a hidden pocketScreen Shot 2019-05-05 at 4.12.15 PM

In addition to these, my advice is to remain vigilant of where you are, who is around you when you take out money, don’t wear or carry expensive cameras around your next – you it and then put it away.  Finally, all I wear for jewelry is my wedding band.  I will bring costume jewelry for evenings but nothing that looks like a valuable gemstone.

Of course to dd to my general security, I recommend that no one bring copies of their credit cards or write down their account numbers  Instead write down the International collect calling telephone number.  Your credit card is able to ascertain who you are by questions they will ask you.

With your passport, again do not bring a copy with you but rather take a photo and either mail it to yourself as an attachment or keep the photo in your photo app on your phone or iPad.

I always carry my Schwab debit card as it reimburses me 100% for all foreign transaction fee and there are no currency conversion fees.  I make sure to let them know which countries I will be in AND i set a maximum withdrawal per day amount, just in the event the card gets lost or stolen. I bring a second debit card with me just in case.  Don’t forget to notify your credit card company of where you will be traveling to as well.

As suggestions for my safety?