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The Bargain Corner

How to Save on Spending Overseas

October 20, 1985|BRUCE HAMBY

All too often budget-minded persons who have carefully arranged travel plans to take advantage of the best possible savings on transportation, hotels and sightseeing needlessly waste dollars once abroad.

How? Here are some examples:

--By not following the practice of exchanging dollars for foreign currencies at banks. Hotels gladly perform the exchange, but their rates rarely equal that available at banks or money-changers.

And the traveler almost always does better making the exchange on weekdays. Currency fluctuations often change rates over the weekend so there's a tendency, particularly at hotels, to hedge Friday through Sunday.

--By not checking restaurant tabs to see if service is included. Too many Americans, automatically accustomed to tipping at home, leave money for the waiter or waitress when it is already included in the bill.

--By not taking advantage of exemptions from the VAT (value added tax) levied in many countries, which in most cases are substantial. Ask the clerk for a form that can be exchanged for a refund when leaving the country.

Refunds are available at airports and other points and in many cases on the spot (less a handling charge). Some countries mail the refund to your home.

Ask your travel agent about the VAT situation in the countries you will be visiting, or check with the country's tourist offices in the United States.

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