A handy dandy guide to handling money abroad
Gone are the days of traveler’s checks. Even so, money is a tricky travel topic, so take this guide to heart before you head out yonder.
1. Know the exchange rate of each place you’ll visit. Download XE Currency, a mobile app that works offline to calculate exchange rates based on your last time of Wi-Fi connection.
2. Call your bank to let them know your travel plans. This way, you can ask about any foreign transaction fees, and use your debit/credit cards without your freezing your account. American Express and Discover are typically not accepted overseas.
3. Avoid exchange agencies. They’ll rip you off at every turn, from terrible conversion rates to commission charges. Pre-order your desired currency through your bank at home without the frills and extra expenses. If you do need to exchange, ask your Tour Director the best place to do so.
4. Use cash when possible to avoid foreign transaction fees. Do this simply by withdrawing money from an ATM upon arrival. Withdraw large amounts at a time to avoid multiple ATM fees, but only take small amounts around with you. Leave the rest locked up in your suitcase, including a small emergency fund in case your card is lost or stolen.
5. Budget around $80–100 per day for lunch, dinner and free time activities. Your Tour Director may organize some optional adventures for your group, so keep that in mind when allocating your funds! For Thailand, $40–60 should be plenty.
6. Remember to tip your Tour Director, bus driver and local guides. This is how they make a living!