It's almost that time of year again, when college seniors graduate and take their few months of vacation before being saddled with real adult problems and responsibilities. Or you could just be someone that's decided to start seeing the world recently. Whatever the case, here are some tools that might help when visiting foreign countries (from an American viewpoint). Hopefully this can be a living document that I'll update from time to time.
I recommend you get a debit card that can pull from ATMs worldwide without a fee. I personally use Charles Schwab. You need to sign up for a brokerage account, but everything's no minimum balance and no fee.
I prefer using credit cards because I don't like keeping cash in foreign countries. Most of my money comes from legitimate sources, so I don't need the risk of carrying and losing cash, or having an excess of currency at the end of my trip. You also get to keep the points!
I currently have the following cards that have no foreign fee:
- American Express (Platinum, Gold): In my experience, I've had better exchange rates
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: The card looks cool and the bonus categories still kick in outside the U.S. (but sometimes the exchange rate doesn't justify it)
Usually have to use a local eating website.
- Japan: Tabelog
- Korea: MangoPlate
- Default: TripAdvisor (which I don't really like but sometimes is the only option)
I use Wikitravel as my main resource, marking the places I want to go with Google Maps (which uses up a ton of battery on my phone... but Apple Maps doesn't have a good saving feature).
Basically, I mark all of the locations of interest on Google Maps, I cluster them visually, and then decide on how to split the activities among the days that I'm there.