Should you need to extend your overseas trip, watch out for these 3 things to help you reduce your expenses.
Extending your overseas trip can be a pretty stressful affair. You’ll have to deal with changes and disruptions to work and other scheduled activities, while overcoming the logistical problems of staying longer than expected.
There’s also the financial stress of spending extra money beyond your budget to bear. But fret not; keep in mind the following, and you can extend your trip without too much strain on your bank account.
Book Cheaper Accommodation, But Pay a Visit First
The first thing you need to take care of when extending your trip is securing proper accommodations.
It can be tempting to just extend your stay at the establishment you’re checking out of – afterall you’re already fretting about extending your trip, and it seems convenient to just ring up the counter and add a few more nights to your booking.
However, extending your stay at the same hotel is disadvantageous, because 1) you may be moved to a lower-tier room for the same cost, and 2) you won’t have any bargaining power; the hotel knows you’re stuck.
Instead, think of it this way. You’re now physically present in a foreign city – likely a city you love if you came here for a vacation – there’s no better chance to explore the locale and find great accommodations!
Login to your favourite booking app or website to help you locate lower-priced hotels with available rooms that are near you. Once you’ve shortlisted a few suitable ones, head on over, explain your plight to the hotel staff and ask to see the room in person.
By checking out the room and the hotel in person, you can see for yourself what you’ll be paying for – in terms of environment, noise, odours, lighting, plumbing, etc. Basically, everything you can’t discern from an Internet listing.
You can also choose your room before you make a booking, instead of hoping you’ll be given a room not too far off from the sample photo you saw.
These 2 small changes make all the difference – you can avoid the risk of booking a room based on professionally staged and touched-up photos, which will save you the frustration of an uncomfortable stay, or worse, wasting even more money moving to a new hotel.
Once you’ve decided on a suitable room, it’s time to bargain for a cheaper price. Refer to your booking app or website to get a quotation on your stay. Then using this price, ask the staff if they can give you a better offer.
You’re likely to get a lower price, and there are 2 reasons why: a) Your chosen hotel practices ‘lowest prices for direct bookings’. b) If you book through your app, the hotel has to pay a service fee. If you make the booking directly with them, they can save the service fees, and drop your price in the process.
With a bit of legwork and charm (remember how earlier we said you should explain your plight to the hotel staff? Yes, really explain it), you can find great accommodations for your extension, and at lower prices to boot!
Use Credit Cards Rather Than a Cash Advance
Having to extend your trip is another one of those times when tucking away spare cash proves to be a good idea. If you don’t have access to a local moneychanger (or are leery of being cheated), you’ll have to find a bank at which to change your money.
Assuming you’ve used up all your available cash, you’ll want to put as much of your expenses on your credit card as possible. You’ll have to pay service fees, but that’s preferable to drawing a cash advance.
When you perform a cash advance overseas, you are subject to multiple service fees. Depending on the country you are in, you may have to pay a foreign bank service fee; a foreign transaction fee; and a cash advance fee. (That’s if finding an ATM that will let you withdraw money doesn’t drive you insane first.)
Also, cash advances are subject to interest that is higher than your base credit card rates – usually about 3 to 4 percentage points higher.
As such, you should limit your cash advance to an amount you can comfortably clear before the next billing cycle. This will help you avoid getting into debt.
Once again, take the opportunity to explore your city. When going for meals, look out for bistros, cafes and eateries that are able to accept credit card payments while offering local cuisine and prices. Keep your receipts and see if you can apply for a tax refund to help offset your expenses.
Confirm Your Departure Date Before Changing Your Flight
One other area to be wary of spending extra money is when changing your flight.
It’s commonly known that airlines charge a fee for changing or cancelling your flight itinerary, but most people don’t think about that until they get slapped by it when they have to make a change.
If you change your flight to a lower-priced one, your airline might honour your request for a refund of the difference, less any admin charges. Or it might not; if your airline operates on a strict no-refund model, you won’t get a single cent back. But they’ll still gladly go ahead and charge you the change fees, thank you very much.
(That’s how a round-trip ticket to Taipei ended up costing S$935. On a budget carrier. True story.)
To avoid paying nonsense admin charges and fees as much as possible, confirm your departure date before you change your booking. And if the cost of changing your flight is going to exceed that of a new ticket, go ahead and book a new flight home.
Arm Yourself With the Right Credit Card
When you need to extend your overseas trip, you’ll be relying on your credit card a bit more than usual. Booking new accommodation, changing your flight and paying for your meals should be done with your card, for the reasons discussed above.
Therefore, arming yourself with the right travel credit card can help you make the best of an unexpected development.
For example, if you have the Citi PremierMiles Visa Card, your overseas stay can be doubly rewarding. You’ll earn 2 miles per S$1 spent on foreign currency transactions.
What’s more, if you’re new to the card, you can also earn up to 42,000 bonus miles within the first 3 months of use.
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By Alevin Chan
A Certified Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.