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Going overseas

Planning a big life adventure

Seeing the world and experiencing different cultures can be an incredibly rewarding experience and, of course, a lot of fun. The memories from your travel will last a lifetime and if the travel bug bites this is something you’ll always want to find money for.

Saving up

It can take a couple years to save up enough for a really big trip. And when you live in Australia, getting to most of the world means you need to think big. So, where's the best place to put your hard-earned savings for this trip? How do you divvy up your funds? And don't forget, once you're travelling, how will you get to your money? And have you planned how you pay off your debts once you're back?

A good combination is to have a day to day bank account with a high interest savings account, an ATM card and a credit card.

  1. Keep some money in a high interest rate savings account and it'll earn you money through interest payments. It's a great way to help you build your savings up before you go, and ideally to earn you money while you're away so you can have something to live on when you get back.
  2. You also need a separate account for day-to-day banking that comes with an ATM card. It helps you save by letting you keep your savings separate while giving you an account to use while you're overseas.
  3. Finally, a credit card gives you a bit of flexibility, which is perfect for emergencies.

A personal loan is another good option offering a simple way to borrow money for your trip, which you can then pay back over time in manageable installments.

Forward planning

There's a lot to do before you go besides simply saving up your money.

Research: Find out as much as you can about the countries you're going to. Read up and ask everyone you know to tell you everything they know about the best places to visit and stay, that will give you the experiences you are looking for.

Passports and visas: Make sure you have a passport and all the right visas. Your passport needs to have at least six months validity before you go - and if you're going to be away for longer, it needs to cover you for the time you'll be away.

Vaccinations: Check with your doctor on recommended vaccines and other medicines that are required for the countries you are visiting.

Medicines and prescriptions: If you've got asthma or diabetes or any other condition, you'll need to make sure you've got a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor certifying your condition.

Travel insurance

Chances are nothing will happen to you while you’re travelling, but if it does travel insurance is priceless. Accidents happen and illness is often unavoidable. Then there's the chance of having your cash and possessions stolen. Insurance can save you from massive, unexpected medical or legal bills that could otherwise see you come home with a debt the size of a small home loan.

Keeping costs down

Most young Australians travel on a budget, especially if they're backpacking.

Before you go: You can save money by making sure you've thought about the essentials and what you really need while you're away. Do you need an ultra-warm sleeping bag if you're not going to a freezing climate? Could a less expensive backpack still hold everything you need? Save your money for your trip.

Once you've taken off: You might find that local trips and accommodation are cheaper on arrival than pre-booking and gives you the opportunity to negotiate last minute. If you're travelling in the low season or on the edge of the peak season, you might also find that many other things are also cheaper. Don't forget to add in the cost of tours. If you budget in advance, you don't have to miss out on once-in-a-lifetime adventures.

Stay mobile: Remember to check if you need to activate global roaming on your mobile if you want to stay in touch by SMS. If you need to have a phone, consider taking a phone from home and using prepaid network services in other countries by simply purchasing a SIM card on your arrival. Or look at a prepaid phone card. It can be a lot cheaper than global roaming.

It also pays to travel light: If you can stick to the standard baggage limit - generally 20kg for economy class - you'll avoid whopping excess baggage charges. However, if you're going away for months you may need more than just a backpack so make the most of your airlines carry-on luggage allowance.

Money management

When you're on the move, it's clear that different countries have different ways of doing things. International banking systems also vary widely and the safest way to travel is to give yourself all the options you possibly can. That way, you'll be able to access and safeguard your funds, wherever you travel.

First and most important, make sure you leave enough funds in your account to cover any credit card bills or direct debits that might still be active while you're away.

Internet banking

If you haven't already set up an internet banking facility, now's the time to do it. Then you can stay in control of your bank balance wherever you are in the world. With so many internet cafes around, you can check your funds virtually everywhere.

Find out how to manage your account online through NetBank.

ATM card

It's an amazingly handy little piece of plastic that can be used in ATMs worldwide but unfortunately you'll still be stung for foreign exchange commission, surcharges and transaction fees which will be taken out of the same account. Check with your bank before you go, but generally you'll pay anything from $1.50 to $5 per transaction.

Credit card

Worldwide acceptance generally makes MasterCard credit cards very convenient. But they also require more discipline than ATM or debit cards. So unless you think you have enough self-control it's probably best to think of it as being there for emergencies only, like if you suddenly have a big medical bill to pay.

Travel Money Card

This clever card can be ‘charged up’ with up to six different foreign currencies before you travel so you can lock in your exchange rate. By using our Travel Money Card you can also avoid the conversion fee normally charged when you use an overseas ATM. For example, if you put Euros onto your card, when you use a Euro ATM (Cirrus) you won’t pay the extra foreign currency conversion fee.

Travellers cheques

In a world of internet banking, ATMs and credit cards, travellers cheques might seem like a bit of an antiquated novelty. But they're still around because they're safe, handy and accepted in almost every country around the world.


Sure, cash is accepted everywhere (if you have the right currency for the country you're in) and it's easy to spend. But, except in small amounts, it has a lot of drawbacks. A small amount of cash at hand will help when you first arrive in a new country - you might need a taxi or a cool drink and the banks are not always open. It's also easy to lose, and there's no way to replace it when it's gone.

Jobs abroad

Finding an international job offer when you're fresh out of uni could be difficult, so why not take yourself off to the places in the world where you'd love to live and work?

While you're starting to hunt out possible job or placement opportunities overseas you could be gaining some of the life and career-building experiences that will look great on your resume and that employers love.

Work permits and visas

Most countries won't just let you turn up and get any job you like. You'll need either a work permit or a visa that allows you to work. And you'll need to get that sorted before you leave Australia. Check with your travel agent, or the embassy or consulate of the country you're going to, and find out how much time you'll need for processing the paperwork.