Borrowed from York University's Travel Page under the Finances tab:
"Living abroad will likely present some increased costs compared with living and working in Canada. You will be exposed to many new and different activities, foods and cultural events. The costs depend largely on the activities you choose, the country you are visiting and your personal spending habits. Please find below some suggestions for successful financial management while abroad.
Handling Money While Abroad
Upon arrival at your international destination, you may not have a chance to exchange money at the airport. You will need cash to pay for a taxi, food, porters, etc. You should take about $100 worth of foreign currency with you when you leave Canada. Some banks, however, do not keep a supply of foreign currency on hand and must order it, so plan ahead. You should check currency exchange rates before you leave.
Options that may be available to you for accessing money abroad are briefly explained below. We strongly recommend that you have several alternatives and that you open a bank account as soon as possible.
Please note: Before you go abroad, you need to notify your bank and credit card companies of your overseas trip, the length of time you will be abroad and the countries you will be visiting, so service is not cut off or denied as a fraud prevention measure.
Traveler’s cheques are the safest way to carry cash overseas. They are known and accepted worldwide (with a few exceptions). Traveler’s cheques are also insured and will be replaced if lost or stolen. In order to make a claim for lost or stolen traveler’s cheques it is essential to know the numbers of the missing cheques. You should keep a good record of your cheque numbers and keep this record separate from your cheques. Traveler’s cheques may be purchased at any bank, American Express office, or CAA office. It is possible to buy traveler’s cheques either in dollars or in the units of a foreign currency.
Please note: Most banks and other businesses charge a small fee for cashing traveler’s cheques. The downside of traveler’s cheques is that it can be difficult to find a bank that will cash them in some countries. Find out in advance which banks in your destination country accept traveler’s cheques.
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs)
In most cities, the simplest way to obtain cash is through an ATM. Withdrawing money through an ATM will give you the best exchange rate for the day. You should check with your bank before leaving Canada to find out where its ATM cards are accepted. In order to use an ATM, you must know your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Some banks assign a different PIN for overseas transactions. Check with your bank to find out which PIN you should use in your destination country. Also, please note that a foreign withdrawal surcharge may apply to your transactions.
Most banks now offer a check debit card rather than a regular ATM card. A check debit card can be used almost anywhere a Visa or MasterCard is accepted. This is a very convenient method to pay for things while abroad. As with any ATM transaction, the best exchange rate for the day is given. Again, you should confirm whether additional fees will apply to transactions overseas.
American Express provides a service called Express Cash for its cardholders. This service allows you to withdraw money from your checking account in Canada via any American Express ATM. American Express has many travel offices and ATMs worldwide. Visit the American Express website for a list of locations.
If you have a large sum of money that you would like to take with you when you leave Canada, you can take it in the form of a cheque issued by your bank suggested in USD. When you open a bank account in your host country, you can deposit the bank cheque. This takes less time to clear (about a week, depending on which country you are in) than a personal check from Canada, which can take several weeks.
Wiring money involves transferring money directly from one bank account to another. Before leaving Canada, it is a good idea to ask your bank if it has a relationship with a particular bank in your host country. If it does, you should open a bank account there. This will make money wiring simpler, and possibly less expensive.
The fee for wiring money is fairly expensive. The person in Canada who is sending you money could pay approximately $30-50 and you will be charged a similar fee upon receiving the money. The benefits of wiring money are that it is safe and quick, especially if you are in an area where there are no ATMs.
Based on the experiences of other students who have worked abroad, some other things that can add up are:
- Supplies for living (bedding, pillows, linens, cooking utensils and appliances, personal hygiene)
- Cultural activities (movies, concerts, plays, operas, museums, etc.)
- Eating out and groceries
- Laundry and dry cleaning (generally more expensive than in the U.S.)
- Sightseeing trips
- Gifts and souvenirs
- Postage and freight
- Utilities (including internet) at home or at cafe"