Holidays are always a treat if they are planned perfectly and goes off as per your desires. Exposure to new places brings new energy and freshness and the pleasure doubles if you manage to do it in your budget. Most of the time, foreign trips rest heavy on your wallet and at other times you face difficulties in not being able to record transactions. Also, a question that always haunts you before the trip, is whether to keep money in cash or to use only credit cards or to divide it between both?
“Studies on international travel trends have provided interesting insights. One of them is that those travelling abroad typically prefer to split their expenses between card and cash. Another insight is the rise of low cost carriers in international sectors that is contributing greatly to massive growth in travel. The rise of branded budget accommodation have also fuelled the demand for low cost hotels and therefore in budget travel segment,” said Kusal Roy, Senior General Manager, ICICI Bank.
Here we bring you some facts that may help you save quite a tidy sum while at the same time keeping track of your expenses – idea is to plan your trip in phases:
Deciding upon the destination of visit (3 months prior) – In this phase one should check the weather conditions, events/festivals at the destination, and flight or travel offer available if any.
Visa, Travel and Stay Bookings, Forex (6-8 weeks prior) – In the second phase one should get the Visa and other related formalities in place and keep a watch on the air-ticket and hotel tariffs in order to get the best deals available and avoid last minute inflated rates.
During this phase one should also get a travel insurance done and gain information about the currencies accepted in the destination of visit and make Forex arrangements accordingly. Travellers can carry multicurrency cards, highly recommended to lock-in foreign exchange rates. Multicurrency cards with complimentary travel insurance will also work. Multicurrency Travel Cards can also be used to pay for air-tickets and hotels directly and in advance.
Acclimatization and Readiness for the trip (2 weeks prior) – Check the weather forecasts and pack accordingly. Pack as light as possible, and do not forget to carry essentials like medicines, universal power adapter, international SIM, etc. Research about the customs, culture and history of the destination. Ensure you carry adequate funds for your trip, and manage your funds wisely.
Banking and finance institutions like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, IndusInd Bank, UAE Exchange India offer forex and travel cards. Most of the time, there are offers on these cards including travel insurance, discounts and cash backs.
“ICICI Bank offers 1% cashback on all international spends made using ICICI Bank Travel Card during the offer period lasting till June 30, 2016 subject to minimum spend value of $ 1,000. Users get up to 20% discount on dining, shopping, travel and stay. There are waivers on the joining fee and reload fee worth Rs 150 and Rs 100, respectively,” said Roy.
UAE Exchange India offers ATM withdrawal waivers and other facilities on loading of its cards. “Loading the UAE travel card between May and June will allow a full waiver on ATM withdrawals till the card expiry date. Customer can also gain a cash back offer on the processing fee. Customers can load the travel currency card at zero instrument cost while loading more than 5,000 $ will give the customer membership to the UAE Exchange HNI club,” said George Antony, MD, UAE Exchange India.
Increased income, ease of access to information about foreign countries, introduction of budget airlines and visa on arrival by many countries have led to more Indians holidaying abroad.
“The number of people travelling abroad went up from 1.3 crore in 2010 to 1.9 crore in 2015, according to industry estimates. Moreover, overseas expenditure by Indians is poised to touch the Rs 1.1 trillion mark by 2017. Given the numbers, the market for forex is huge and getting bigger,” said Roy.
Multi-currency cards can also help you in easing your travel woes. Multi-currency cards are for people who travel extensively either for work or holidays. One multi-currency card is loaded with multiple currencies eliminating the need of carrying more than one card.
Multi-currency travel cards enable a customer to carry up to 15 different currencies on one plastic. The chip & PIN-enabled Card comes with a free replacement card that can be activated instantly in case of loss/ theft/ damage of the Primary Card. It also allows online reload from anywhere in the world through mobile app or web, comprehensive travel Insurance, free emergency travel assistance, zero lost card liability, and much more.
“The biggest advantage of a multi-currency travel card is the convenience that plastic money accords, it also allows the user to keep an easy track of their expenses. Prepaid travel cards, whether single or multi-currency, offer a fixed exchange rate, thus allowing the user to transact in the local currency without any hassles.
There are also no charges for merchant transactions using Travel Cards. For example, if a customer buys a travel card at Rs 65/$ before his travel, he will continue to make purchases at the same rate, thus protecting him from a rate fluctuation during his travel,” said Antony.
Roy also explains what you should opt for between credit cards and personal loans in case you want to holiday abroad but you are short of money: “A credit card is essentially a payment instrument with borrowing facility. It provides a maximum interest free period of 48 days, with the option to space out your payment, as long as you pay the minimum of 5 per cent of the total billed amount.
Alternatively, the card holder can also get the transaction converted into easy EMIs. A personal loan on the other hand comes with fixed payments for a stipulated period and makes sense if there is a large expense involved.
Some of the big concerns while travelling are baggage loss, bounced bookings of hotel/flights, accidents etc. The next question is how to handle these situations? Travel insurance is the answer for these miseries. ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, Bajaj, Religare, Reliance, Cox & Kings are some of those firms that provide travel insurance.
“Travel insurance is essential in order to ensure enough safety and protection while you are on holiday, especially when you go abroad. We arrange travel insurance for our customers that cover loss of baggage (checked), bounced hotel/ airline bookings, missed connections, personal accident, trip cancellation due to hospitalization, death or curfew, emergency hospitalization death etc,” said Karan Anand, Head, Relationships, Cox & Kings.
Travel insurance, forex cards, multi-currency card are some of the things you need to get done before emarking on a foreign trip to keep it hassle free.