This post was written in collaboration with CompareHolidayMoney.com.
Having travelled a lot, and all over the world, I can safely say I have done pretty much every mistake in the book when it comes to currency and travel money.
Here are a few of them and how I do things now.
Leaving home without cash
Yes, your pounds likely won’t be accepted abroad, but you never know what can happen. Having a little bit of cash on you, be it pounds or dollars, can go a long way.
I have had my card blocked on arrival “because the withdrawal looked suspicious” to the bank, and had to spend an hour over the airport wifi trying to call them and unlock.
I have arrived at smaller airports with no ATMs. The last thing you want is the taxi driver taking you to a dark street to withdraw money, and know you are now carrying a lot of cash.
Bringing way too much cash
I have lost more cash than I care to admit. Because it is harder to keep track of what is in your wallet in another currency. Because if you leave it in plain sight, you can’t blame anyone for being tempted.
Now that cards are being accepted pretty much all over the planet, it doesn’t make sense to bring your whole vacation budget in cash.
You can get a prepaid currency card, or use your regular credit or debit card. Just make sure you check the fees beforehand.
Using the convenient option
Back in my teenage years, we would walk into a bank, request currency, and get it like a week later, for a horrendous fee. Then I moved on to exchanging money at the airport, which wasn’t much better. Then, to withdrawing cash with my regular card instead of looking for specific cards that discount or remove fees abroad. Ouch.
Convenience is expensive.
Not planning in advance
Preparedness is what saves you money. The same way you would brew a cup of coffee at home for a few pennies if you planned ahead, or resort to a £5 latte to go, sorting out your travel money in advance can save you a lot.
On a website like CompareHolidayMoney.com, Europe’s biggest dedicated travel money comparison service, you can compare exchange rates from the comfort of your own home, and save 10% or more on your currency needs. After all, you have probably done that for your flights and accommodation when you booked your holiday, right?
Well, the same way, you can compare foreign exchange deals in a few clicks.
CompareHolidayMoney.com is your one stop before and after your holiday. Before, you can find out what the best deal is to convert your pounds into foreign currency, and when you come back, you can also compare the buyback deals from currency providers.
Holiday Money Guru Peter Rudin-Burgess, from CompareHolidayMoney.com recommends to plan at least three working days in advance when it comes to comparing holiday money deals. The website allows you to have the currency posted to your home address, or you can pick it up at a local store or at the airport.
If you need £1,000 converted, and a quick online comparison saves you £100, that is a great hourly rate for your research time! Even for smaller amounts, saving £10 or £20 can help pay for a nice outing during your holiday, so it is well worth it.
Not warning the bank you are travelling
That’s when they block your card because you are in a weird country. Or when you forget to adjust your withdrawal limits and get stuck in the middle of nowhere without cash.
It’s easier now to ask help from friends and family online, but the grown-up thing to do? Tell your bank you’re going away.
Lacking a plan B
When I lost my cards and wallet, I didn’t have a plan B. I had to rely on other people (see above) and waste a lot of time trying to get things together.
Now, I keep a little cash in different places, I have all my card numbers and emergency contact numbers for the bank in a secured file on the cloud, that I can access from anywhere.
Not budgeting properly
It’s the end of your holiday and you still have $800 in cash. Is it worth keeping? Will you just blow it in souvenirs and call it part of the holiday budget?
Before, when my bank was charging me per withdrawal, I used to withdraw the maximum amount available, and would always end up with a lot of cash.
Now, I get about 10-20% of cash depending on how widely cards are accepted in the country, and pay the rest by card. After a few days, I know how much I am spending each day, and make my cash disappear over the last few days.
If I still have cash, I will fill up my tank if I have my car, or buy gum, food, etc. things I know are cheaper in that country like a face cream or some flip flops, rather than some random souvenir.