15/10/2015 8:17 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

Tips For Aussie Travellers Ripped Off Overseas

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Australians are continuing to be stung by unwanted fees when travelling overseas, losing hundreds of dollars unnecessarily. We’re also falling into the trap of spending millions on foreign bank fees and charges per year while abroad.

A new study by Travel Insurance Direct reveals Aussies are encountering all sorts of trouble when holidaying overseas. One in ten travellers claim foreign fees and charges cost them more than $100 for their last trip.

Tourism Research Australia’s latest data shows that 8,125,000 travelled overseas in the last calendar year; this could equate to approximately $81,250,000 among all Australian travellers in just 12 months.

A staggering 70 per cent of people surveyed said they have had a problem accessing their funds or been charged an exorbitant fee/obtained a bad exchange rate when travelling. TID travel safety expert Jesse Chard said when it comes to travel and money, some Australians tend to adopt the ‘she’ll be right’ attitude when planning their trip.

"But they often end up getting snared with high fees or run into serious problems accessing their money when travelling. We also found that some Aussies spend like drunken sailors abroad. Around 57 percent of travellers said they overspent between 10-25 percent of their allocated budget, and 16 percent overspend by 25 percent plus!” Chard said.

“Australians like to go large when they travel. A reason for this could be that because the cost of living is so high in Australia, when we go to regions when it’s relatively cheaper - like South East Asia – our concept of money becomes a little warped, and some of us lose true perspective about what we are actually spending our money on, and how much we are spending.”

Muggers are also taking aim at Aussies -- one in eight have had been the victim of crime when travelling, either because their wallet or other money was stolen or because they were the victim of a scam or fraud.

“Robbery and theft is an aspect of travelling that Australians should always consider as a possibility when going abroad. In a lot of respects, robberies are a simply a case of ‘wrong place, wrong time, wrong person’ -- and very little can be done. We encourage travellers who experience robberies to be complicit with their robbers demands, and aim to not escalate the situation -- cash and valuables can be replaced, but your health and safety is invaluable."

The survey also found:

  • We accept our fate. Nearly half (44 percent) of travellers have needed to accept bad exchange rates while travelling as no other options were available.
  • Unplanned big spenders. Over half (57 percent) say they overspent by between 10 percent and 25 percent of what they had planned to spend while 16 percent say they overspent by more than 25 percent of what they had planned
  • Credit card anxiety: Just fewer than 40 percent of people say they overspent on their last international trip with 10 percent only realising this when they arrived home to find a very large credit card bill that they needed to pay off.

“It appears that some Australians think that just because their debit card says ‘VISA’ on it, they can pull out multiple sums of cash from an ATM with their Australian card, and again, just think ‘she’ll be right’. We advice our customers to get our free Travel Money Card that locks in your exchange rate and spending in your local currency. So you avoid paying transaction and conversion fees as you would with a conventional credit card. With one in ten Aussies racking up more than $100 in fees on their last trip, these are fees that can really be easily avoided and that hard earned money better spent on having an enjoyable trip,” Chard said.

Travellers are also urged to keep a close eye on ATMs when overseas.

“Do your best to stick with reputable operators when extracting cash, and always remember to cover your hand when entering your PIN. Also, be extremely wary of restaurants and bars who want to take your card away from your sight when processing a purchase, as you can be at risk of having your card skimmed.”

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