Welcome to Travel Tip Tuesday (TTT? T3? TraTiTu?). I realized that after 3 years of traveling and living out of a bag, I really have become quite the expert on this solo world travel thing. There’s no denying I have a lot of experience. I realized that here and there I was slipping in some tips, so I figured I should start pointing them out in a weekly post. Well, I hope it will be weekly, sometimes maybe it won’t. But at least it will always be on a Tuesday, well, I guess I could slip it in on Thursday as well. I mean, my blog, my rules, right? If nothing else, at least alliteration should keep me in line.
Use your ATM (automatic teller machine) Card.
Don’t leave home without it (and a spare packed somewhere else—get one from your bank before you leave home).
I have NEVER once in 12 years traveling abroad used Travelers Checks. As far as I’m concerned they are obsolete. I also NEVER exchange money at a bank or exchange place or anywhere. The best exchange rate you will get is through your bank at home…so use your ATM Card. If you don’t have one…get one. My ATM debit card works around the world and there are ATM/Bank Machines everywhere. Nowadays, ATMs are about as ubiquitous as McDonalds.
When you first arrive in a new country get your cash right away – airports or train stations are good places to find an ATM. Do it before you start to wander around town without any Shekels, Lire, or Dong.
Try to take out as much as you are comfortable with each time you go to the ATM (I take out a few hundred Euros at a time). Your bank most likely charges you a small percentage to convert the money each time…and it will save you a bit in the long run if you are NOT going to the ATM everyday.
Of course, before you get to the ATM, you must remember to figure out how many Swedish Kroner equals one dollar (about 7SEK=$1USD at the time of writing). This means you’d have to take out about 700SEK if you wanted $100. And a $5 beer will be about 35SEK. Jumping country to country can be confusing when it comes to currency. Take a moment to learn the exchange rate and figure out an easy formula or trick that helps you know it…and know it quick. This will help tons when you are negotiating a good deal for that hand-painted boomerang in Australia or buying late-night shots of raki in Istanbul.