If you’re planning on seeing the world in retirement, Louise Farrand shares her top tech tips to help take the stress out of travel
It’s finally happened. You’ve bid adieu to the nine to five and said bonjour to exploring the world in your retirement.
No doubt, you’re hugely excited about your adventures. At the same time, you’ll be getting stuck into the huge amount of planning involved in any big trip.
The good news is that thanks to technology, the days when you’d go travelling with traveller’s cheques, the reams of paper that made up an itinerary and a battered copy of the guidebook are long gone.
These days, there are some really smart ways to manage your finances on the go. Just remember that when accessing the internet abroad, you’ll be incurring roaming charges, which can add up, unless you use wifi hotspots in places like cafes and bars.
Here are our top tips:
Find cheap flights and hotels
Nobody wants to pay more than necessary for flights or hotels, which is where comparison services come in handy.
Much like the opera and meerkat-based financial comparison sites that everybody knows, flight comparison sites sites like Skyscanner, Momondo and Kayak allow you to search a wide range of airlines, flight times and costs to find the best deal.
Retiresavvy searched these three for flights from Manchester to Barcelona, jetting off in Spring 2017 and found very little to choose between them in terms of flights or prices available.
All have sites and apps, which could be handy if you are hoping to visit multiple countries and plan to book some of your flights on the go.
Equally, hotel booking sites like booking.com, hotels.com and trivago.com all offer a wide range of hotels to suit the needs (and pockets) of travellers, and have handy apps, too.
All the apps include the ability to book on the go, as well as useful features like maps to guide you from the train station or taxi to the hotel.
Budget on your smartphone
It can be difficult to watch the pennies, cents or centimes if you’re travelling on a budget. Luckily there’s a range of budget-tracking apps for smartphones and tablets that can help you keep tabs on what you’re spending where.
iPhone/iPad users can use apps such as Trail Wallet, while Android device users can download apps like Wallet and Trabee Pocket. Check your device’s app store to see what’s available.
Most budget trackers share many common features, including letting you set a daily budget, which it can show in your destination’s local currency. Simply update the app as you spend, and as well as helping you keep on track, it will give you a breakdown of how you’re using your money.
Convert currency and tip like a local
Currency conversion website XE.com has a simple, yet effective, app. Simply set up the currencies you want to convert before you travel (or on the move when you have an internet connection), and the app will perform an instant conversion, based on live rates.
Note though, that these rates may differ from the rates you get from your bank.
We’ve all experienced the awkward moment of receiving a bill in a foreign country and realising the local tipping customs are a mystery.
Tipping can vary a great deal from country to country – for instance, it’s uncommon in Vietnam, but a 15-20% gratuity is expected in the USA. Check out the tipping etiquette for wherever you’re going beforehand.
Your guide book will usually include this information, but if you’re travelling light, the free, crowdsourced travel guide Wikitravel should have plenty of information to help.
Beat the banks
These days, most banks offer apps to their customers, so you can check your balance and move money around as you go. Some also offer a facility where they text you your balance at regular intervals – speak to your bank for more details.
Banks have been known to cut off their customers when they observe ‘suspicious’ behaviour – let’s say, you taking out a wad of cash in rural Borneo or paying for a hotel booking in a Colombian city – even if you’ve told them beforehand that you’re going away.
Of course, it’s better that your bank freezes your account to be on the safe side than running the risk of you getting defrauded. Nonetheless, it’s really frustrating if you’re somewhere remote – and it can be expensive to call your bank’s fraud prevention helpline.
There’s no definite way to avoid this from happening, although it’s still a great precaution to tell your bank that you’re going to be travelling. Split your money between different bank accounts, so that you have multiple sources of cash in the event that a rural ATM spits out your card.
Another precaution is to pre-programme an app like Skype with your bank’s fraud prevention helpline. It’ll be much cheaper to use Skype or other internet phone calling app than to get stung calling a premium rate helpline from abroad.
It could also be worth looking into pre-loaded travel currency cards, so that you’re not hit with a bank charge every time you make an overseas withdrawal.
For longer trips, you may also want to look into travel-friendly credit cards, which can offer more competitive exchange rates than travel currency cards. Some even waive withdrawal fees altogether, although terms and conditions do apply.
This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.