There are three travel questions I’m always asked about, and the same ones keep showing up in the forums I read, including Facebook Groups. They are:
- What’s the best option for travel and health insurance?
- What kind of credit cards and cash should I use when travelling?
- How must I ensure my banks can send me an SMS for two-level authentication?
Even though I’ve written specific blog posts on each of these questions to some extent, there are no simple answers. The truth is it is rather complicated and sometimes quite convoluted. Let’s take a closer look at these three travel questions.
Travel Questions Regarding Insurance
Travel and health insurance are two separate items. The good news is that many credit cards have a decent travel insurance package included if you use their card for anywhere between 80 to 100% pay for the flight. The problem is that many airlines now consider delays due to weather is not an acceptable reason to claim. In these instances, you may want to pay for additional unconditional ability to cancel when booking. This can run up to quite a bit of money, unfortunately.
Get your travel insurance with EKTA
Health coverage is another matter entirely. It will be pretty expensive and difficult to find health insurance when you’re travelling over 70 and almost impossible over 75 years of age. Some credit cards have health insurance covered if you get a specific travel credit card, but even those are pretty limited. While the benefits are good, you’ll often get 25 days up to age 65. You get three days once you’ve reached that age limit of 65. Yes, you read that right, three days, so unless you’re just going away for a long weekend, it won’t be of much service to you.
Travel Questions Regarding Credit Cards
I recently acquired a credit card with several features, but two benefits particularly interested me. The first was no foreign service charge, usually around 2.5%. The second is it provides six lounge passes in a year. If I use four of the passes, it covers the cost of the card
there are many credit cards out there that provide mileage or hotel points. Sometimes, they’re worth considering getting when they have a promotion to sign up and give large bonus offers. These are worth considering but are probably not worth keeping for the long run.
If you’re travelling, I recommend having a card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees and has travel insurance. Over the years, I’ve had to use my credit card twice for coverage of two car accidents and damages to a rental car.
The general consensus seems to be that you should take two credit cards and two debit cards. When you go out, you take one from one bank and one from the other; that way, if something goes wrong or they’re stolen, you have a backup set in your hotel safe.
Should you get local currency from your debit card, a small amount of cash is always handy, even where credit cards are generally widely accepted. I tried to do this only once, as there are usually ridiculous charges added to your withdrawal.
As a side note: if you’re travelling to South America, many places want you to pay in U.S. dollars be sure to take crisp new American dollars and keep them in your hotel safe until needed.
Another option is using cards like from Wise to store and transfer funds in various currencies. This might be worth looking into.
Online Money Transfers and International Banking use Wise (formerly TransferWise)
Travel Questions Regarding Data and Voice Plans
Being able to stay in touch is extremely important when you travel. This is where having a smartphone is critical. If you’re lucky to live in the US, you can get a Google Voice number that can be used worldwide.
Over the years, I have found that I have not had to pay for roaming if I can obtain a good data plan; I can always connect to everyone with my data through IMessage and apps like WhatsApp. The best data plans I’ve come across are from Airalo, and I was very pleased to discover that they now have a voice option on some of their plans.
Stay connected with adequate data packs eSim cards from Airalo
Having a phone number from the country that you reside in is becoming more and more of an issue. Finance companies, in particular, want to be able to use two-step verification, which means that they will send you a text or phone you. Some do offer the e-mail option, which might work, but it is becoming less and less so
As I mentioned, Google Voice is one strategy for US residents. You can also get a Skype number for most countries, which is an excellent option. I’m not sure how well the Airalo Aplan would work at the time of this writing, but that would be my go-to choice.
Many people think they need a voice line in other countries to stay in touch with places. My experience has been that many countries, such as those in Asia, prefer to use the WhatsApp application. You can always purchase cheap SIM cards that will give you some data and voice if necessary. Beware that the new smartphones are shifting over to E Sims. You may want to keep an older phone that you can slip a hard SIM card into since you’ll only be using them really as a telephone. You’ll find old models work perfectly well.
Travel Questions Caveat
None of these suggestions or recommendations are valuable if you plan to leave your country for 90 days or more.