It’s often one of the very last things we think about when booking a holiday or planning to travel. You’ve booked accommodation, sorted the flights, done your homework on your destination and got everything packed. But is there one detail you’ve overlooked? What are you going to do about money while you’re away for one week, two weeks, or perhaps even longer?
Times have changed and the days of jetting off with a fistful of traveller’s cheques are long gone. Traveller’s cheques are still around but fairly rare. Getting access to cash while abroad is far easier than it once was, and the good news is that if you’ve made plans before leaving, all is not lost. Today, it’s perfectly straightforward to get hold of your money when you’re away.
That said, there are ways to be smart about managing your money abroad. With exchange rates seemingly constantly fluctuating, it’s wise to be prepared to save money. If you’re going to sort out your money before you go, for example, do it before you get to the airport. It’s known that exchanging money when at the airport means you’ll invariably get a worse exchange rate than, say, at your local bank. Ideally, you should shop around for the best exchange rate, and double check the charges to try and secure the minimal fee.
Another option is to use a debit or credit at an ATM, just like at home. This is pretty convenient but you need to check with your card provider first about any charges you might incur with each withdrawal. There’s usually an interest charge for using a credit card to withdraw cash anyway, so a debit card might be preferable – and some banks don’t charge for using your usual debit card at an ATM, providing you let them know in advance when and where you’re travelling to.
If you have a relative or friend who is abroad for a longer period – perhaps you’re the parent of someone travelling around during a gap year, or a close friend has run out of money and needs funds urgently – it’s fairly easy to make sure money reaches them. There are typically three main options for sending money abroad – via a bank or building society, high street transfer firms or foreign exchange brokers. The option you choose may depend on factors including how much you’re sending, how quickly the money needs to arrive in the required account and how often you’re sending it. Is it a one-off payment, or a series of regular amounts, ie every month? There’s more information on sending money overseas here.
The bottom line is that currency us now easier and more flexible to access, send and receive when away from home – arguably than ever before. And for those of us with the travelling bug, that is excellent news.
Australia Post also offers a one day service with no commission. They tend to do large denominations and you may not get your choice of notes but it’s pretty good if you plan ahead.