Traveling can be stressful. Planning, booking, packing and making sure to shut off all the lights–right? Money matters need to be considered too. Here are 6 Money-to-Dos to do before you take off.

  1. Contact your Credit Card Company: Scenario: You’re traveling in Belgium, find a great souvenir and your credit card declines, because why would you, a United States citizen, be in Belgium buying souvenirs. It’s suspect to the credit card companies if you don’t call ahead and say: I’m going to Belgium and plan to be buying souvenirs. Don’t forget to ask about international rates. Credit card fees can range from 1 to 3 % for each transaction. Also find out how your credit card points can benefit you while you’re traveling.
  2. Find out about VAT refunds when you’re traveling overseas. VAT is “value added tax” that can increase the price of your overseas purchase by 15% to 30%. The good news is that many countries allow nonresidents to claim refunds for goods bought while visiting. Usually airports make it very clear what purchase do and do not qualify for a refund.
  3. Travel Insurance—Yes or No? There are two reasons to get travel insurance. First is to cover any unexpected medical costs, the other is to cover trip cancellation or interruptions. You’ve got to shop around and find out what different plans cover. Try visiting or to compare plans.
  4. Data usage: True story. A couple we know went to Puerto Vallarta last November and the hotel wanted $90 per day per device to connect to WiFi—and the connection was horrible. They argued and did not end up paying that much but it was a hassle.Call your provider and find out everything there is to know about data usage when you’re traveling. Once you’ve asked all of your questions, ask your provider what questions you forgot to ask. It can save big in the end. Also call your hotel and find out about WiFi and other techie things before you book. For example: Some hotels may provide WiFi free—but only in the lobby.
  5. Tipping: Tipping isn’t as huge in other countries as it is here in the United States. The general rule is that tipping is not expected outside of the United State but a small tip is appreciated. The exceptions are Canada and the U.K. where 10% or more is expected. Try for more questions about tipping.
  6. ATM awareness. It’s usually least expensive to withdraw cash from ATMs when you get to where you’re traveling abroad. Exchange a small amount at the airport then get more from an ATM later.