Whether you are going on a short weekend trip, a fortnight in the sun or are planning on an extended break to see more of the world, making sure you have enough cash to keep you going whilst you are away is essential.
It might not always be practical to carry the money you need, especially if you are going to be away for a longer period, so having a back-up plan is important.
Getting stranded without cash – or any means to get some – can be a traumatic experience and completely ruin your getaway so here’s some ideas about how to avoid it.
Get a good rate before you go
If you can’t find a good deal on the high street, or are disheartened by the hefty charges, you might be tempted to just take a small amount of foreign currency and change the rest once you are there.
Whilst this might work out OK, it is rather a risky approach because you will have no idea how accessible currency exchange bureaus will be in your chosen location – and if you are going somewhere more unusual, you might find there aren’t any. And even if there are plenty of places around, if it is a tourist hotspot, the chances are that they will cash in on your need for currency, leaving you no choice but to swallow ridiculous rates or be left penniless.
The best away to avoid this is to use an online comparison site to track down the best rates available. Frequently these will be from online providers rather than generic high street banks and travel agents. Using a currency broker will often mean there are also lower charges and for larger transactions, possibly even none! A good comparison site will update their rates regularly throughout the day so you can be certain the deals on offer are current and truly representative of what’s available.
Reduce the risk
You might not like the idea of using your credit card overseas, especially as some levy a plethora of extra charges plus a poor exchange rate, they are perfect as a means of emergency funds.
Make sure you stash your credit card in a separate place to your money so that if you are mugged or your belongings are stolen, you will still be able to pay for essentials.
If you were planning on using your credit card and it is this which is stolen, taking emergency numbers with you will help you deal with a crisis much more smoothly. Trying to find the right contact details when you are in a flap will seem like a mammoth task!
In some cases your credit card issuer may be able to get a new card to you urgently, sometimes even within 24 hours, depending on your location.
Traveller’s cheques have gone slightly out of fashion in recent years but they are another good way of keeping a back-up of money. With serial numbers they can easily be cancelled and replaced – just make sure you don’t keep them together with the receipts you were issued with when they were purchased.
A friend in need
If you are truly stuck and have no money, you could get your friends or family to wire you some cash to get you out of a pickle.
There are money transfer services where all the person needs to do is telephone and make a debit or credit card payment and tell them what country you are in, and the cash will arrive within the space of a few hours. You will need to visit the office, take along your passport and possible answer an agreed secret question to prove your identity.
However, be aware that although this facility is available in many countries around the world – Western Union services over 200 – it may not be possible in some far flung destinations. Plus there will be significant charges for using the service so it really should only be relied upon as a last resort.
Travelling to different countries can be a wonderful experience, whether you opt for a typical holiday destination or wander off the beaten track. Don’t let a lack of travel money ruin your trip; prepare carefully before you go and have a back-up plan in case the worst happens. You can then enjoy your getaway without a care in the world, safe in the knowledge that any problems have been taken care of!
Written by Samantha, a Financial services worker and writer with over 20 years’ experience.