Traveling frequently (especially international) comes with its challenges. Money should not be one of them!
Here in the USA you are usually fine with 1 bank ATM/Debit and a credit card. Most places accept cards for payment and even expect it these days! Carrying a $20 note doesn’t hurt.
When traveling internationally you will find that cash is king. Many places don’t take credit or debit cards and/or they charge a sizable fee to do so.
Things can get even more difficult if you find yourself in a place where you have troubles with your ATM/debit card. We have had issues in the past so we have written up this guide to keep others from having this problem! Don’t get stuck!
If you travel with only 1 debit/ATM/credit card and it is lost, stolen, or compromised you could find yourself in a bad place financially. After years of extensive travel we have come up with a “bulletproof” financial contingency plan for being on the the road. This applies to any trip for 5+ days or anything international. It saves you hours/days of headache with some preparation!
Step 1: Have at least 2 checking accounts with Visa/Mastercard branded ATM/debit cards (preferably one of each). Put money into each account before departure and notify both institutions that you will be traveling and where you will be going. This should help prevent fraud alerts from blocking the card. Also carry a real credit card for backup!
Step 2: Carry at least $100 USD cash for each adult on the trip and $50 for each child. This is your travel emergency fund that you can exchange to local currency in the event there is no ATM around or they are not working. The idea is to have enough money on hand to get through 1-3 days without a struggle. A must for trips that include rural or remote areas!
Step 3: Have a trusted friend or family member available to send you money if it becomes dire. Western Union is a good emergency option (though not cheap). We have never had to resort to this but it never hurts to have it available to you.
Extra Credit: Email yourself a scanned copy of all important documents that you may need. These include plane tickets, passports, train/boat/hotel reservations, the debit/credit cards you are carrying with you (front and back sides!), medical prescriptions, insurance contact information, and contact info for the airlines you are flying. If any of this info is misplaced you can pull it from your email quickly.
Make sure you are prepared for your next trip and have a stress free vacation!