A lot can go wrong when you travel. Banks will strike just when you want to get your travel money out. ATM’s will fail. Your money will be stolen, or lost. You will take sick or take ill in your destination. All these things have one thing in common, they will keep you from your much needed money, or they will cost money.
It’s said cash is king in business. It’s the lifeblood that keeps the business machine chugging along. And needless to say, its also the oil that greases your travel experiences. Run out of it when traveling and you are in deep sh*t. So then, how do you handle your travel money? What is the best way to carry it, access it and use it? We’ve got some tried and tested tips for you. Read along and share yours too.
The Travel Money Tips
1) Always Carry Cash With You
You will never go wrong with cash. The best is to carry one of the major currencies. Especially the dollar. Most people have a rough idea of the dollar’s value at any given time. You can easily use dollars to pay for most things across countries. It is also easy to find exchange bureaus for the dollar compared to some other currencies.
Also in case of emergencies or failure by banks and ATM’s, you are well covered.
2) Separate Your Travel Money
Don’t put all your travel money in one pocket or bag. Separate it. Carry small amounts in each pocket. Also separate your credit and debit cards. This creates multiple backups in case you lose a bag, or you are pick-pocketed or other alternatives fail. Keep some smaller bills in an easy to reach place for sudden expenses. It’s better to keep the bulk of your money on body storage, such as bra pouches, long johnny boxers. This is especially handy in risky or shared spaces such as hostels.
3) Beware of Exchange Rates
Converting currency costs money. Sometimes you can lose as much as 8% of your money during exchanges. Keep exchanges to a minimum. Calculate the cash you might need locally and exchange that amount at once. Here are some fast rules of thumb regarding currency exchanges:-
- Stick to reputable exchanges such as regulated bureaus and banks
- Don’t change your money from street vendors. It’s a recipe for a rip-off
- Exchange the bulk of your cash at the local travel destination. You get a better late than at your home bank.
- Avoid exchanging money at the airports. The rates are awful. They know you are desperate.
- Be aware of the local currency value in relation to your currency. Some vendors will try to rip you off.
- Get a feel for the local currency. Study the coins and notes. Keep a vague mental value of the currency in relation to your currency. And count your money before you leave the counter.
4) Credit & Debit Cards
Most times, credit and debit cards are a reliable way of carrying and spending travel money. They are easy and convenient to carry. They can be safely used in most countries. However, most developing countries aren’t yet reliably hooked to the global card system. If traveling to those countries, cash will serve you right. For debit and credit cards, keep the following in mind:-
- Store your cards safely
- Inform your bank before you travel such that your card isn’t blocked for fraud when you use it abroad.
- Study the foreign use fees charged by banks on your card. If the charges are too high, seek other alternatives.
- Carry multiple cards in case others fail to work for any reason
- Don’t let your cards out of sight, ever. Credit card fraud schemes have started when a cashier spent a lot longer time with your card.
- Store emergency help line numbers for your cards handy in cases of theft or loss.
- Put the larger purchases on your debit/credit card. This include airfare, hotel reservations, car rentals etc
5) The Local Currency Advantage
Use the local currency for your transactions. Most vendors will rip you off and add a huge markup price if you produce foreign currency. Their supposed exchange rates for their products is also awful. Using local currency, you can compare your purchases to that of the locals or even ask for their help with prices and understanding the currency. Regular, ordinary folks tend to be really helpful and genuine.
# The Bonus Tips
- Local coins are worthless once you leave a country. Spend them on small purchases, change them for bills or give them away.
- Exchange all your money back to dollars when you leave. See Tip #1
- The traveler’s check is fast becoming obsolete in favor of ATM’s. Leave yours at home.
- If all else fails. Have someone back home wire you the money through Western Union etc.
Carrying travel money abroad can be a hassle. There is always the risk losing the cash. As pointed out though, there are various safe ways to carry and spend your money. Research the various alternatives and chose the best for the destination you are traveling to. Money may be the oil that greases your travel adventures, but you shouldn’t have to worry about it. Instead, your focus should be on enjoying yourself.
How do you keep your money safe while traveling? Let’s us know in the comments below.