Written by Diane Manson.
A little preparation before you jet off to another land is guaranteed to save you money, valuable time and unwanted surprises.
Call your debit and credit card companies before leaving home. Let them know how long you’ll be gone and where you’re travelling to. This simple task negates your card from being frozen due to your credit card supplier suspending your card for suspicious or out-of-pattern spending. This small measure ensures that paying for dinner at the 3-star Michelin restaurant in Tokyo transacts seamlessly.
If the currency of the country you’re about to visit is available from your local bank, be sure to order up some cash. Order a quantity of smaller denominations. This pays off when you first arrive—you won’t have to think about locating a money exchange or bank and tipping or paying for incidentals (which is easier with small notes). By ordering foreign currency ahead of time you’ll have time to figure out that “the blue notes are 50 Thai Bhat, the green notes are 20 Bhat” and so on.
“How much cash should I take?” is a great question. The answer depends on several factors—if you’re cruising Antarctica, this’ll look different than shopping in old town Prague. ATM’s are accessible in Prague, and nowhere to be found on a passing iceberg. Side note: ATM’s are not always reliable in some countries, making it another great reason to carry some cash.
Knowing the value of the Canadian Lonnie against the country’s currency you’re visiting may help you decide how badly you want the $7800 Turkish Lira silk carpet that keeps catching your eye. ALWAYS have a financial safety net by setting aside extra cash. Don’t bother with Travelers’ cheques, they’ve gone by the wayside. Travel with more than one credit card, and be sure at least one card has a healthy limit (you won’t have to say no to the carpet you can’t live without). For good measure, toss in US cash. Invest in a money-belt for the safekeeping of your cash while travelling on trains, planes, buses, tuk tuks and automobiles. When you arrive to your room, transfer your cash, a credit card, Passport and other documents that require safe-keeping into your in-room safe or hotel safety deposit.
Pre-planning your ‘travel wallet’ is an investment that’ll serve you well.