Financial Preparations for Long-Term Travel
So, have you packed yet? Probably not, and that’s okay because we still have some preparations. Here are a few tips to structure your finances to travel long term safely and securely.
Get Out of Debt
Traveling long term with debt hanging over your head is not advisable. If you can’t clear your debt, then at least ensure you have a stream of income/savings that can cover your payments.
Automate All Payments
Automate any regular payments you have so you don’t have to remember to transfer money while you’re abroad and straddling time zones. And if you’re automating the payments to come from a bank account, ensure the account has sufficient funds.
Apply for Credit Cards (Before You Quit)
If you’re quitting your job to travel long term, ensure that you have all the credit cards you’ll want to travel with, since you probably won’t qualify for new cards until you’ve demonstrated a solid self-employment income for a few years. I like to travel with two credit cards (in case one stops working).
I like to use frequent flyer mile credit cards so I can accumulate miles to help me fly for free (in business class, thankyouverymuch).
Set Up Online Banking
This is crucial when traveling long term. ATMs abroad don’t have half the functionality they do at home. You’ll use online banking to manage and pay credit card bills, transfer money between accounts, and also check your accounts to ensure your security hasn’t been compromised.
Set Up a VPN (Virtual Private Network)
If you’re on a public WiFi network (even one with a password, such as in a hotel), you should be using a VPN to protect your private information and logins.
VPNs carry the added functionality of allowing you to use your Netflix/Hulu account while abroad and to access certain social media sites from countries with restrictions.
Find an Accountant
If you’re traveling for many years, you’ll probably need to file taxes from abroad. Develop a relationship with a trusted accountant at home who can communicate with you via email/Skype and file your taxes on your behalf.
Get ATM Savvy
Here are just a few tricks that will help you avoid paying extra fees, getting ripped off, locked out of your accounts, and stranded without cash:
• Don’t withdraw money using your credit card—You’ll be charged interest on your entire credit card balance from the date of withdrawal. (Most credit card purchases have a 30-day grace period so there’s no interest if you pay it all off.)
• Check the ATM for skimmers—These sneaky machines read your card information and swipe it.
• Use ATMs inside/attached to banks—They’re typically the most secure, charge the lowest fees, and if something goes wrong with your transaction, you can walk into the bank to rectify it.
Now your finances are all set up! Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the art of making long-term travel financially sustainable and how I’ve spent less to travel full time than I ever did to live in one place.
To your financial savvy,
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