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Money Tips For Travellers

How to use and where to get money when travelling abroad

No, this isn’t a guide to money-saving, or wise-spending (we’ll leave what you use your money for to your own discretion!). This is more about the basic practicalities of using money abroad. Unless you’re carrying vast sums, this tends not to be a hugely problematic area - but it’s worth going through a few things nonetheless!

Changing Currency

Changing currency may seem simple, but it can be a bit of a minefield. There are a lot of vendors out there which exploit unwary travellers, and charge a hefty hidden fee for their services. Be sure to get your currency exchanged by an internationally recognised and reputable trader - someone you see on the street or at the airport is less likely to be trustworthy, and more likely to rip you off. You’ll get the best deals if you exchange your money earlier (although it can be tempting to watch exchange rates go up and down, and strike when the currency climate seems most advantageous!).

Always bring some cash with you
No matter where you travel, having cash on hand is always helpul,
which can be exchanged for local currency when needed.

Euros, USD, and Pounds

Euros (EUR), US Dollars (USD), and British pounds (GBP) are the easiest currencies to work with and change abroad - particularly if you’re in a less developed country. Sometimes, you’ll be able to use these even if they’re not the currency of the nation you’re visiting. It’s worth keeping a few of these on you, just in case of emergencies!

Cards and ATMS

Do your research beforehand. Some nations are pretty much cash-only. Ending up in one of these nations thinking that you can rely on your debit card is not a good idea! Having said this, however, in nations where ATMs and card payments are readily accepted, there are advantages to using cards. Credit cards, for example, are very useful for making reservations, and provide a good emergency backup. Cards also mean that you don’t have to withdraw and change vast sums of cash before heading abroad - you can withdraw as much as you need, as and when you need it.

Nonetheless, it’s worth checking with your bank beforehand what kind of commission they charge on foreign withdrawals. Some banks and/or accounts charge nothing at all, while others are less generous. Note also that the layout of the number pad on foreign ATMS may not be what you are used to - so make sure you’re entering your digits correctly if you don't want to lose your card! It's surprisingly easy to let your fingers follow a familiar pattern, and end up entering the wrong number! Also check that your bank or card type are accepted widely in the nation you’re travelling to. Do also carry a backup supply of cash and/or travellers cheques, however. Electricity and phone signals are not always reliable in some places, meaning that ATMs, even when available, could often be out of order.

Bring your credit cards on trip
Other than cash itself, credit cards are probably the most convenient form of paying
for your travel expenses and incidentals when abroad.

Notifying Your Bank

Call your bank before you go abroad, particularly if you’re planning on using your card. Some banks’ security services will block a card if it’s used in an ‘out of character’ manner - including being used abroad. So do notify your bank before you set off. You may also find that your bank is able to offer you some favorable travel money options. Some banks offer prepaid cards with a fixed exchange rate. These work like debit cards - you simply top them up, and use them as you go. They’re great for eliminating the hassle of cash withdrawal and fluctuating exchange rates/commission while you’re abroad.

Travellers Cheques

Travellers cheques are not as widespread as they used to be. Consequently, using them can be a bit of a hassle, involving raised eyebrows from shop assistants, red tape, and a lot of negotiation. However, they are accepted by banks, and easy to replace if you lose them, so you may want to consider them despite their failing popularity!

Security 101

Wherever you’re going, it’s always best to keep purses, wallets, and moneybags safely hidden away and out of reach. Just in case your cash/cards do go missing, keep an emergency supply locked away in the venue you’re staying at. Keep your card in your sight at all times, to reduce the likelihood of your card being ‘cloned’ or otherwise scammed. And check out the location of Western Union or Moneygram branches, in case you have an emergency, and need someone back home to wire you some money!

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