By Rob Scharar
Since the founding of Commonwealth Funds, we have focused on markets and sectors where we have acquired local knowledge and “on-the-ground” experience supported by extensive travel and global contacts. As a result of all that travel – I’ve personally made more than 80 trips just to Africa over the last 25 years – I’ve accumulated a significant amount of travel knowledge. Here are some tips that can help you get the most out of your next international trip.
Start by learning everything you can about the destination you’re traveling to beforehand to gain some level of familiarity. The World Factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/) has information on over 267 countries. Your trip can be enriched by arranging meetings with business or professionals in your field – what we refer to as “Econ-Tourism.” Likewise, engaging in volunteer social service functions – I delivered baby blankets and clothes to an orphanage in Malawi – can mean additional meaning and deeper connection to the place you’re visiting.
Financial rewards include booking local tours direct through the hotel concierge; traveling in a group (airlines and hotels often give discounts for groups); signing up for frequent traveler programs and using a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign exchange fees. Don’t forget to explore tax deductions for overseas travel. Refer to IRS Publications 550 & 463 for more information.
By investing a little time and effort beforehand, you’ll be better prepared to enjoy your overseas trip and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Rob Scharar serves as President and Head Portfolio Manager of Houston-based Commonwealth Funds, as well as President of FCA Corp, a Houston-based financial planning firm founded in 1975.