It may be low down on your to-do list, but make sure you let your bank know your travel plans. Nothing brings a trip to a quicker halt than having no cash to pay… for anything.
Banks are lean and mean machines – not surprising, since they’re billion-dollar institutions. They get to know you and your spending patterns by keeping tabs on your history. If you don’t usually leave the country, the system will automatically flag your account if all of a sudden there’s a random charge made in, um, Hungary. So to prevent fraudulent charges, they’ll freeze your account. Regardless, you’ll definitely figure it out when, all of a sudden, the plastic isn’t working.
I once learned this the hard way. In the rush to make my flight, I didn’t bring any cash to exchange, thinking I could pull out the money later (a completely reasonable expectation, I might add). After a nightmarish 13 hours, I finally arrived at Bangkok airport. In a desperate need to consume something actually edible, I stumbled across some scrumptious-looking Tom Yum Koong that taunted me. And it continued to taunt me, because I actually couldn’t withdraw any money from a machine.
Although I only ended up going hungry, it could have been much worse. There are endless horror stories about stranded tourists – there’s definitely no quicker way to ruin a vacation. Just picture yourself trying to pay for your hotel… or for the phone call back home to sort out the problem. In the event that it does happen, you should be aware that you can make an emergency call back to your bank for free through Skype.
The solution is really pretty simple. Just give your bank a call before you leave and let them know all your destinations and dates, including the transit airport. It’s a one-minute task that you’ll be glad you did, in case anything bad does happen.