Here’s a guest post talking about my all time hands down favourite subject, overseas cheap travel: Katie Anderson is a blogger and writer based in Glasgow’s West End. She enjoys good food, good wine and good holidays. Thanks Katie for guest posting. I have included a photograph I took while in Kathmandu. It is quintessential Nepal in all its frenetic and beautiful glory. One of my favourite overseas adventures, hands down.
We know the deal. You’re young. You’re adventurous. You like to get outside of your comfort zone every once in a while and travel somewhere overseas. But we also know that you’re thrifty and that money doesn’t go on trees.
How to save money is an important lesson to learn in every area of life… and travel is no exception.
You’ll have learnt many of these lessons already. The internet has brought us a myriad of ways to save on purchases, and there are thousands of websites that offer to find us cheaper travel or cheaper accommodation. It’s definitely wise to shop around and take advantage of such offers as these. Travel necessities (like airplane flights and places to sleep) tend to be cheaper when booked in advance online- but then, you probably knew that already.
What you might not have known, however, is where else there is a significant amount of money to be saved. We’re not talking about the number of cocktails you drink or the souvenirs you buy, no. We’re talking about something altogether less exciting; currency exchange.
Increasingly, this probably isn’t something you’re thinking about very much. Many people are thinking about currency exchange as a kind of outdated method of spending money overseas. Instead, they’re heading off on trips armed with only a credit or debit card. It’s true that this is a very easy way of dealing with the issue; most financial providers allow customers to use their debit cards in stores or cash machines overseas. However, this is actually a very expensive method of currency exchange, and should really only be used in emergencies.
Instead, think about exchanging money before you leave. As a general rule, it’s important to shop around and make sure that you’re offered the best possible exchange rate. High street service providers often don’t offer the best, and banks are often not much better. Instead, think about using an online service to order in advance. Often, you can even pick up your currency in a high street branch but online customers get offered better rates.
If you’re not comfortable carrying all your currency with you (this isn’t advised if you’ll be traveling for any length of time) you might want to look into getting a travel money card. These can be pre-loaded at a positive exchange rate and then money can be withdrawn as often as possible from cash machines once you reach your destination. This makes the process just as easy as taking your debit card, but is a much cheaper way of doing it.
To conclude, when planning a trip abroad don’t forget about the money saving possibilities of shopping around for currency exchange!
Youngandthrifty’s Take: I actually make it a habit of exchanging my money into USD (because US Dollars are accepted everywhere, and actually the exchange rate in overseas places such as Nepal, India, Vietnam still value USD in comparison to the Canadian dollar) before I go. Preferably, I try my best to exchange my Canadian dollars into USD when the Canadian dollar is good (which is now!). However, carrying around so much cash on you a downer, especially when you’re at risk for being targeted by thieves and pickpocketers. Lately, I’ve been lazy and have just been using my debit card overseas, and when I come back, I find some horrendous fees (usually $5 each time you withdraw, and another $2.50 from the ATM overseas). I have learned my lesson- I usually carry some USD cash, a debit card, and two credit card- credit cards often aren’t accepted in smaller establishments overseas– and oftentimes, they charge you an extra 3% when you use your credit card. I took some Traveler’s Cheques in the past, though depending on where you go, you may have trouble finding a place that will cash it for you.
Readers, what do you take with you when you travel overseas?