Foreign Currency and Credit Cards
There is not much worse when travelling than being stuck in some unfamiliar place with no means to pay your bill. This could be at an airport for duties or taxes, taxi drivers, meals, accommodation or a host of other needs that can arise.
Possessing a variety of payment methods when travelling is essential in our modern world.
Traveling with credit/debit cards and some amount of cash in appropriate currencies is critical. Your particular requirements will depend on where you are traveling and what you are doing.
If you are staying in the developed world, credit cards and minimal cash is a good way to go. We always made sure we had two cards (Visa and MasterCard in our case) so we didn’t get stuck. Having most of your spending power in your cards minimises your risks of losing money.
Credit cards are useful in drawing local currency from ATM machines. However, It is important that you are aware of the charges for each cash draw. Also, if you have an outstanding balance on your card, you will immediately start paying interest on that balance from the moment you draw until all your balance is paid off.
In many developing countries, credit cards still have limited everyday use and so cash is critical. Most of these countries have the USD ($US) as their preferred foreign currency and in many cases you can buy items using USD rather than the actual currency of the country.
Cash is very important when traveling in developing countries, especially USD / $US.
Also ensure you have plenty of small notes ($1 / $2 notes) to use as tips for extra help as required or if you are doing small purchases. Remember that when traveling with children, you are more likely to need a bit of assistance than when you are traveling alone.
Note: Be aware that some countries (such as many in Africa) will only accept more recent USD – for example those printed in the year 2002 or later.
Travellers Cheques are generally not considered a good tool these days as the rates you receive when exchanging are generally VERY poor.
Allocate your money between various family members to minimise your loss should you misplace your bag / wallet. Also, ensure you and your partner each possess various credit cards.