Travel Questions from my mother – payments and phone bills

My parents (average age 60), though well travelled in their 20’s, recently took their first overseas trip in a number of years to Adelaide.

After we’d negotiated the expired passports, flights and accommodation bookings and determined whether it was best to train, bus or rent a car to get to the Barossa Valley (train, getting a car there), mum still had questions.

While they were things which might seem obvious to me, as I patiently answered them it occurred to me that there must be many people every year in similar situations, having not travelled overseas before or not having done so over a period of significant technological advance.

phone and coffee

So here they are – travel questions from my mother.

Will my bank debit card work when paying at restaurants/ hotels in other countries?

No. While it will work at an ATM on the street (for a fee!) you won’t be able to use it to pay for items in a store.

How can I avoid the credit card transaction fees from the hotel?

I’ve found that sometimes by paying before arrival this will be waived. But if there is a fee and you want to avoid it you’ll have to pay with cash instead.

Should I buy foreign currency at the airport?

No this is generally where the worst rates are. Do the maths and work out whether to get cash before you leave, withdraw money upon arrival or load up a pre-paid travel card.

Will the ATM overseas give me my home currency or the local one?

It will give you the local currency by default. There are some fancy ATMs now though where you can select to receive foreign cash instead.

Can I use my phone overseas?

It will work, but don’t roam, use WiFi instead and aps like Whatsapp (if you’re not making contact between iPhones) are brilliant.

With some mobile providers you can now pay a daily fee while travelling to use the texts/calls/data your home plan. If you need to text/call a lot this may be worth doing, or buy a local SIM card.

Despite me turning her data off, teaching her how to join a wifi network and explaining roaming charges (80c per text in this example), mum ripped through $42 in three days because my Nana ‘kept texting’ her back. Be selective about who and what you respond to.

Can I top up my pre-paid phone overseas?

Yes, you’re best to do it yourself by logging into your account online through rather than paying the costs to call to have it topped up.

If my iphone is turned off will the alarm still go?

No. Swipe up from the bottom and select either the airplane or the moon icon. Your alarm will go so you won’t miss your flight but you won’t be disturbed by texts or calls.

What travel related questions have you been asked by a parent or first time traveller?



  1. August 1, 2016 / 3:32 pm

    The last time I travelled overseas was ten years ago (so, forever!) and now I’m negotiating a whole different world in terms of using my phone overseas! Current situation: freaking out about data charges – holy moly!

    • August 2, 2016 / 9:04 am

      Things definitely change in 10 years! Fingers crossed in another few years the data charges situation will be a non-issue as things evolve. So excited for you!

  2. Cristin
    July 10, 2015 / 12:00 am

    Love this post – my mom had similar questions when she came to visit me. It really can be a bit daunting travelling overseas if you’ve never done it or haven’t done it for a long time. It’s a brave new world!

  3. Julie Small
    July 5, 2015 / 4:02 pm

    Great tips. To regular travellerss these just seem obvious but reading this I can see how it can be confusing for newbies. Hope your parents enjoyed Adelaide – I am off there for a weekend later this month so any tips will be gladly accepted.

    • July 5, 2015 / 9:57 pm

      Agree Julie! I’m told Adelaide has a free city connector bus for familiarisation, the only two giant pandas in the Southern Hemisphere at the Zoo and Hahndorf is worth a visit. I’d love to go so lucky you!

  4. Cerys Parker
    July 4, 2015 / 4:32 am

    Fantastic list of questions and answers. When I searched for a current account in the UK I found one that the debit card was also a Visa card – it was then able to be used as a debit card wherever I was travelling in the world.

    • July 5, 2015 / 12:17 pm

      Thanks Cerys, a debit/Visa card in one sounds like the perfect solution to all purchasing requirements!

  5. Ashley
    July 3, 2015 / 9:47 am

    I love this title of this post– haha. So cute and great answers!

  6. July 1, 2015 / 5:04 pm

    These are great tips. I never considered how much the world has changed since my parents last traveled internationally! (Which wasn’t even that long ago!)

  7. LydiaCLee
    July 1, 2015 / 11:23 am

    Great post! It’s funny how quickly the world changes….

  8. Christine | A Keane Sense
    June 25, 2015 / 2:02 am

    Awe, love this idea as a post. Your mom is definitely not the only one with questions when it comes to traveling internationally! Hope they had a great trip!

    • June 27, 2015 / 11:46 am

      Thanks Christine! Yes they had a great trip- Adelaide sounds lovely. Mum’s talking about visiting my brother in Europe next.

  9. Lena | Lena Talks Beauty
    June 23, 2015 / 10:37 am

    I just came back from Australia – if you use a Visa Debit (or Mastercard Debit) you can use it anywhere where they accept credit cards, but a normal Eftpos card won’t work.

    • June 23, 2015 / 4:56 pm

      Ah yes good clarification! I guess if it’s Visa or Mastercard branded and you can use it for online shopping or over the phone, it will work in a store in Australia. Thanks Lena.

      • The Enthusiastic Cook
        June 23, 2015 / 8:23 pm

        The weird thing is though… most of the time they will make you sign for it. I just came home from a trip to Canada and every purchase I made using my Visa Debit, I didn’t enter a PIN. Just signed. No ID asked for or anything. Super weird.