Met up with one Nepal kayak trip team this morning for a chat over a coffee. We talked about all sorts of plans for the trip including changing money options and it reminded me of one of the top tips I give to students who are participating in expeditions.
I see changing money as part of the adventure of travel rather than a chore to be avoided. Todays top tip is about making life easy for yourself while not missing out on the task that will, through doing it, will help you understand the country your in, its cultures and its attitude to money.
The easy option is likely to be to change all the money you’re likely to need back in your home country where you know where to go, how it works and likely able to do it in your native language. Its easy but does mean travelling with all your cash. This may have some security issues, depends where your staying.
Second easiest is to take your ATM card and use it when you need cash. You’ll obviously need to find cash points but if your going to be in or near major towns or tourist destinations they are pretty available nowadays. In ‘interesting’ places they can be a bit unreliable. We used to reckon the one in Diani, Kenya, was working about 75% of the time because of power cuts but, hey, thats pretty damn good for Africa!!
Most secure is Travellers Cheques. If they get lost/stolen you should be able to get replacement ones issued if you’ve followed the guidelines. They can be a faff to change, usually needing your passport and a bureau de change or bank that will accept them.
Cash is king anywhere in the world. You’ll get the best rates for cash and you’ll have the most options to change it. You cant ATM cards or travellers cheques with the black market street traders for instance and this has to be one of the great developing world adventure travel experiences.
Top Tip #3 is use all methods.
Before you go change enough money to see you through the first few days. Your unlikely to get anywhere near as good a rate as you will incountry but it just means you dont have the extra faff when you land, you’ll have money straight away for the taxi from the airport, a coffee on your first wandering exploration or a beer.
As you settle in you’ll be able to scout out the possible money changing options, get a feel for rates and ask around for where is easiest and who might rip you off.
ATM cards and travellers cheques offer great security and flexibility so are always worth considering.
Above all else try not to miss out on the changing money experience. Whether its standing in the queue of a bank or doing a deal on a street corner its a great way to gain an insight into how a country works and get under its skin a bit.
Hope you’ve found the third in this Top Tip series handy. More will get added over time so keep popping back to check for new posts and click on the Top Tips category in the side bar on the right. Alternatively sign up for email alerts of new posts or add the RSS feed to your Outlook or other feed reader. Information can again be found in the RH sidebar.