One of the most exciting and frustrating things about traveling is having to deal with foreign currency; these unfamiliar coins and notes mean you need to be more vigilant when you’re shopping, and it’s definitely a sign you’re ‘not in Kansas anymore’ when you have a bunch of foreign bills in your hand! Your entire trip is dependent on the money that you’re carrying around, so making sure it’s kept safe and sound throughout the trip is pertinent. Here are some tips for handling your money when overseas:
Nothing’s more frustrating than having to dig through your coin pouch to find the right change, and it’s not particularly safe to pull out wads of bills to sort either if you’re out in a crowded marketplace. While your wallet may be a mess at home, discipline yourself when managing your cash overseas.
One common sense suggestion – separate pockets/pouches for different currencies.
You’re not going to need your home currency when you’re in a foreign land, so why carry that around with you? Put it in the safe in the hotel or lock it up! Back in the day when film cameras were more widespread (I’m revealing my age aren’t I), I used those little plastic canisters to store and sort all my different coin currency.
Splitting and Stashing
As I mentioned in my last post on shopping, don’t keep all your money in one spot just in case you get pickpocketed. I usually have a main wallet where I pay for most of my expenses from, but I also have some ‘safety money’ stashed away, both on my person and in my luggage. After I’m done for the day, I usually spend the evening sorting out how much I have left in my main wallet, and move my money around accordingly. It’s not a bad way to keep your money safe, but it takes some work trying to remember where you have money stashed!
Where do you stash your money when you don’t have a safe and you want it hidden somewhere not easily found?
Some of my favourite hiding spots:
- Inside a journal/book I’m carrying
- In my passport or passport holder
- With my dry toiletries (like sanitary pads!)
- With my spare shoes
…I also know some women make use of padded bras as a handy hiding places.
Some people forgo carrying wads of money around and just carry an ATM card instead, withdrawing money as and when they need it. While it’s a quick and easy way to have local currency on hand without worrying about how to keep it, the exchange rate is pretty lousy (it varies from bank to bank, check before you depart!). So while not the most worthwhile on short trips, it’s definitely a must if you’re going to be on long trips.
I carry an ATM card for emergencies, and also a credit card for bigger ticket purchases so I don’t use my changed currency so quickly. Make sure you keep an eye on your credit card bills when you return though – some unsavoury shops might steal your credit card details, so make sure you keep your receipts and be vigilant when it comes to checking your bill when you’re done with your trip.
I’m the proverbial squirrel when it comes to money on trips! It’s quite interesting knowing what everyone else does with money when they’re overseas though. Most people put the important stuff in the safe in the hotel room, but when you’re on the move, I’m always paranoid about getting pickpocketed or my luggage getting lost, so I make sure I spread my money out so that whatever happens, I’ll have something on me still!
Most of my hiding places in my luggageare listed above, and after seeing some other people’s comments, I’m just glad to hear that I’m not the only overly paranoid person around =)