Columbia University

Global Travel

Traveler: Personal Finances

Use these tips to make simple personal preparations to avoid significant hassle while traveling internationally.

Your Wallet

  • Tell your bank and credit card companies that you’ll be traveling
  • Ask if they charge foreign transaction fees
  • Ask if you’ll need a PIN to make purchases abroad
  • Plan to bring appropriate credit cards and bank cards as recommended by your program
  • Clean out your wallet or purse; take only the credit cards and ID that you will need
  • Find out if traveler’s checks are a viable option or if you should rely on a debit card and ATMs to obtain cash
  • Bring an emergency fund (minimum $300) and $100 in local currency to bring with you on the plane
  • If using a smartphone, you might want to download a currency converter application (OANDA Corporation has a free one)
  • For long-term travel, arrange for power of attorney for the person handling your financial affairs at home in your absence


Undergraduate Students considering a semester abroad should review the Study Abroad Finances section of the Global Programs website.

If you have any questions, please email us at