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10 Travel Tips when using Foreign Currency

Author Mary Chong
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So, the saying goes… You have to pay if you want to play!

My favourite form of playtime is travelling and with that comes dealing with unfamiliar forms of money. I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite foreign currency travel tips when you are out exploring and playing throughout the world!

10 Travel Tips when using Foreign Currency

10 Travel Tips when using Foreign Currency

Tip 1. Don’t use ATMs

Using ATMs may be convenient at home but I’ve found issues when using ATMs when you travel. There are often foreign transaction charges, bank charges, and high exchange rates.

Tip 2. Order Foreign Cash Online

Groceries, clothes, electronics and money. With the Internet you can order everything (foreign currency included) and get it delivered directly to your home.

Tip 3. Get some small bills

It’s not nice to tip the bellhop at the hotel and then ask them back for change. Nor do you want to buy a $1 bus ticket with a $50 bill. Be a prepared Calculated Traveller and have small bills in hand when you get off the plane.

Tip 4. Um…what colour is $5 bill again?

In Canada, all our bills have different designs and colours.

In the US, all bills are the same shade of grey/green but have different Presidential images to identify the different denominations.

Even more confusing is when the bills are in different colours and have faces on them. Such as Thai dollars and Singapore dollars – it’s easy to get them mixed up. (I confess this has happened to me)

If you are going to multiple countries in 1 trip I recommend you order your currency early and study it to ensure you can easily identify each bill so you aren’t confused when using it.

Tip 5. Separate your currency

If you are travelling to multiple countries in one trip such as we often do when we travel via cruise ship, I’ve found it helpful to separate out the different currencies for each country into separate labelled envelopes.

On our Asian cruise, we had foreign currency from USA, Canada, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand all in our cabin safe. Everything was organized is our little safe and we could easily just grab the envelope that we needed.

10 Travel Tips when using Foreign Currency - Tip 6. Coins

Tip 6. Coins

Some countries use coins instead of bills. For example, here in Canada, we have a $1 coin and a $2 coin. So, do some research ahead of time so that if someone gives you change for a $10 bill and hands you a bunch of coins you know that they gave you the correct amount.

Tip 7. Go local. Don’t rely on US Dollars or Euros

I know that in Mexico, even though they have their own currency, they will accept US dollars. In fact, sometimes they prefer it. But, that’s not the case everywhere.

The same advice holds true for Euros. On our last trip to Croatia, we wanted to buy some fruit at the local farmers market and the vendor would not accept our Euros and insisted that we pay with the local Croatian Kuna.

Tip 8. Separate your cash between the travellers

One for me and one for you…

Two for me and two for you…

As the saying goes, don’t put your all eggs in one basket. We never want bad things to happen but they can — be it from loss, or theft. Best not to leave one person on the trip holding all the money. I even have a secret stash tucked away on my body just in case.

Read: Clever Travel Companion Pickpocket Proof Tank Top

Tip 9. Maintain a Stockpile

I never exchange leftover foreign currency back to Canadian dollars after a trip. I just put it away for safe-keeping for the next trip because I know that I will always be travelling again. If I know that I’ll never be returning to a specific country again, I spend what I have left at the airport while I’m waiting for my flight or I donate it to charity.

Tip 10. Cash from Home Sweet Home

Don’t forget to bring some cash from home. The worst thing is to exit the airport and be in the taxi on your way to your OWN home only to discover that all you have is foreign currency in your wallet! DOH!

foreign currency pinterest image

Do you have any tips to add when using foreign currency?