Do your research
Make sure you do your research to find out about your destinations and identify any travel risks. Travel guides are great for learning more about the places you intend to visit, and we can recommend some great guides to get you started.
Check for any health precautions you may need to take
Ask your health professional at least eight weeks before you go for advice on any health precautions needed in the area you are visiting, e.g. anti-malaria medication, vaccinations etc.
- You should check with us or with the Embassy or High Commissions of the countries you intend to visit or transit to find out their visa/entry requirements, and if you need to apply for a visa.
- You should do this well before your planned departure date to ensure you have the correct visa. The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade cannot provide this information. If you do not have the required visa, you may be refused entry to a country.
- Get comprehensive travel insurance from a reputable insurer
- Do not leave New Zealand without comprehensive travel and medical insurance – treatment of a minor injury or a hospital admission can be very expensive in some countries. Ask us for available options, and carry evidence of your insurance cover at all times. Make sure it covers the activities you will be undertaking, and any pre-existing medical conditions.
- Register your travel plans online with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- This is so you can be contacted in an emergency. If your travel plans change, remember to update your itinerary on the MFAT registration database and tell your family and friends.
- Advise family and/or friends of your travel plans
- Make copies of your passport, insurance policy, 24-hour emergency numbers and ticket details. Carry one set separate from the originals and leave another set with family or friends.
- Safeguard your passport at all times
- It can be difficult to replace your passport while overseas. Ensure it will remain valid for at least 6 months after your planned travel ends and that you have at least one clear visa page for immigration stamps. More information about passports can be found at www.passports.govt.nz.
- Contact home if you are near a major disaster or incident while travelling overseas.
Obey local laws
The New Zealand Government cannot intervene in the judicial processes of other countries. Being a New Zealand citizen does not entitle you to any special treatment.
Should I Take Cash, a Debit Card or a Credit Card on My Trip?
Once you’ve planned your trip, it’s time to get down to the details. You won’t get very far without the means to pay for your travels. If you can’t decide whether to bring along a debit card or cash, consider the pros and cons of the many different ways to pay for your travel expenses.
It depends. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
- Cash is convenient. If you are traveling in your native country, you don’t need to find banks or ATMs.
- If you’re visiting another country, you’ll probably pay less to exchange cash for the local currency than you
- Cash is a security risk; it can be stolen easily and cannot be replaced. It’s bulky and awkward to carry.
- If you’re traveling abroad, you’ll need to locate and visit banks to exchange your cash for the local currency.
- As long as your debit card is part of a major network, you can use it in many countries.
- You can visit an ATM and use your debit card to automatically draw local currency; the conversion and associated fees will appear on your bank statement.
- Using a debit card can help you stay within your budget because the card takes money from your account. When you’re out, you’re out.
- Debit cards are small and easy to carry safely.
- Your debit card may not work in all ATM machines at your destination, so you’ll need to bring a backup debit or credit card.
- If you travel abroad, your debit card probably may not be accepted at stores or restaurants; you’ll need to carry some cash for daily expenses.
- In rural areas, finding an ATM that is part of your network might be difficult. You’ll need to plan ahead and withdraw enough cash to meet your needs until you’re back in a city or town.
- Using an ATM isn’t free unless you use your bank’s machines. If you go outside of your bank’s network, you’ll be charged a fee to use a non-system ATM. When you use your debit card in a foreign bank’s ATM, you will probably be charged separate fees for using the machine and for converting your funds into local currency.
- You will need to notify your bank that you will be using your debit card overseas. If you fail to do this, the bank’s anti-fraud department may suspend your debit card.
- You may need to change your PIN. In some countries, ATMs will not process PINs with more than four digits. In others, PINs with zeroes will not work.
- If your funds run out, you can’t get a cash advance with your debit card. You may wish to bring an alternate form of travel money for emergencies.
- ATM scams abound; you’ll need to educate yourself and learn to avoid them.
- You “load” the card with money from your bank account, and you use it like a debit card at ATMs and like a credit card at merchants and hotels. You can replace a prepaid travel card if it is lost or stolen.
- Credit cards are easy to carry.
- You can replace your credit card if it is lost or stolen.
- You can reserve your hotel and rental car on your credit card and your reservation will be guaranteed, even if you arrive late.
- MasterCard and Visa are accepted at most places around the world.
- You can get cash advances from ATM machines, for a fee.
- Unscrupulous merchants can steal your credit card information and use your account. This can be disputed and removed from your account, but it’s a long, annoying process, and you may need to cancel your card altogether.
- Credit cards may not be accepted at your hotels and restaurants, so you will still need to carry cash for some purchases and for emergencies.
- Banks add service fees for foreign currency transactions. You should find out what your bank charges before deciding to use your credit card overseas.
- As with any credit card transaction, you’ll pay interest on your travel purchases unless you pay your balance in full each month.
- You will need to notify bank of your plans to travel to another country before you travel.
The Bottom Line
Many travelers choose a combination of two or three travel money options. Before you decide which one will work best for you, call your bank and ask about transaction fees and currency conversion charges. If your bank’s fees are high, consider getting a new credit or debit card for your trip.