Since it is important that students have access to adequate funds while abroad, it is suggested that students budget for the activities that they would like to take part in while overseas. Students may need money for books, toiletries, sightseeing, transportation, presents, etc. Do not splurge; stick to your budget. Please ensure that student bank accounts have ample funds to cover the above expenses. Students can access their US account using their debit card (please remember your PIN code) or they can charge expenses to their credit card (Visa and Mastercard are accepted in most of the countries whereas American Express is not). Students may even call their bank to advise them of the upcoming trip since banks monitor customer accounts and will close credit cards if unusual activities occur and fraud is expected. Often there are claim limits on debit cards, so request a short term limit increase while abroad. Remember that external funding may also be available.
The Center for Global Studies will assist students with developing their budgets. When estimating an approximate budget, two (2) detailed areas should be considered: pre-departure and post-arrival.
Pre-departure costs may include the following: passport fees, direct consular fees for visa, airfare, local transportation, independent travel expenses (i.e. Eurorail passes, etc.), luggage, and appropriate clothing if necessary.
Upon arrival, a student usually spends more money the first few weeks while becoming acquainted with their new surroundings. Students should consider the following expenses when estimating a budget: weekend travel, local transportation, daily meals and dining out, entertainment, museum fees, laundry, postage, telephone costs and personal items.
Budgeting tip: Remember to research student discounts (i.e. national rail passes, public transportation, etc.) and the current exchange rate as you prepare a realistic budget for your time abroad. Students may want to consider purchasing pre-paid international calling cards or work with their current cell phone provider for limited world phone access. Students may even want to contact returned students to find out about their recommendations.
In the vast majority of places, students will access money through an ATM. It is important that they ask their bank how (or if) their ATM card will function while abroad and what extra fees might be incurred. It is important to note that some U.S. banks have relationships with foreign banks that may reduce fees while the student is abroad. Credit cards with cash advances and traveler’s checks are additional ways of obtaining money abroad, but it usually occurs with a fee.
If using a credit card abroad, remember to call the credit card company to notify them that you will be out of the country. Also, be sure to make copies of all your debit/credit cards and bank information that will use abroad, including phone numbers and email addresses of your bank.
Finally, all students should bring some money for emergencies in the form of traveler’s checks or foreign currency. It is also a good idea to bring some money in foreign currency in order to cover basic expenses the first few days in case they have difficulties withdrawing cash. American banks will require some weeks to procure foreign currency, so students should plan accordingly.