There's a lot to look forward to when it comes to booking a trip, but something that often gets overlooked is the detailed logistics. However, a little bit of logistics effort upfront can save you a lot of time and money - not to mention, help make sure your trip is much more dream-vacation and much less logistics-nightmare.
One way to easily make that happen is to always carry at least some of the local currency on hand - yes, even if you'll be visiting multiple countries. Currency conversion for travellers isn't too difficult, but there are a few things you can do to optimize your experience and your exchange rate.
Here are three ways travellers can ensure their currency conversion process is smooth, which will ensure many other parts of the trip go smoothly as well.
Step One: Plan Ahead
Most of the time, when you're booking a vacation or a trip, you'll know many months, if not a full year, ahead of time. Once you've got the destinations locked down for your trip, and you know which countries you'll be in, it's time to get familiar with the currency - or currencies - you'll be using while you're there.
One easy way to do that is to sign up for the VBCE newsletter to stay on top of global currency trends and upcoming events. This will help you identify key buying opportunities if you're looking to get the best rate on your currency conversion.
While you're at it, you'll want to start familiarizing yourself with the currencies you'll be using, too.
For example, if you're travelling to multiple European countries, it's important to know which ones accept the Euro, and which use their own currencies. Exchanging into both currencies before you go will save you money, since point of sale exchanges of the Euro to other currencies will likely have dramatically pricey and unfavourable exchange rates.
Then, there are also countries like Cuba that place restrictions on currency use. The bottom line is that it's always better to find these things out ahead of time - not when you land in a foreign country.
Step Two: Bring Cash
You'll want to carry at least some cash in the local currency to each destination you're visiting, and to err on the side of caution when it comes to how much.
In North America, we're used to debit and credit cards being accepted nearly everywhere for nearly every kind of transaction, but that won't be the case in every country or area of the world. For example, if you need to take a taxi from the airport when you land and the cab isn't equipped with a card reader, you'll be very happy you have cash on hand.
Step Three: Make Sure to Exchange Before Getting to The Airport
The airport currency exchanges rely on the fact that you have no other options easily available, and will often charge a spread as high as 10% on the market exchange rate. As a comparison point, your bank will offer 2-3% spreads, and here at VBCE we offer 1% or less spreads on your (major currency) exchanges.
That's why it's in your best interest to plan ahead and get the cash you'll need ahead of time at a local currency exchange: those spreads can add up quickly.
Before you head out to exchange all of your currency at once, one thing to note is that if you're planning on purchasing a large volume of currency all at once at an exchange - which is a smart way to streamline your trip planning! - you should check the limit on your debit card for daily transactions.
Helpful Tip! To find out what your limit is, you can always call the customer service number on the back of your card, and you can even request it be temporarily increased to accommodate your currency exchange plans. That way, if you do plan on exchanging more than the limit, you won't need to make a second trip to work around the limitations of your card.
Step Four: Use Up Currency Strategically
The end of a trip is always a bittersweet time, but one way to make it a bit more sweet and a bit less bitter is to make sure you're not stuck with a whole bunch of heavy, leftover and potentially expensive currency on hand.
When you're nearing the end of your trip, make sure to focus on spending coins as much as possible, since many currency exchanges will only accept bills when you return. Plus, as a bonus, it'll be a whole lot lighter to carry back in your carry on bag.
When you do get back, you can take the leftover cash - as little or as much as you have leftover - and exchange it at your local currency exchange business (remembering to avoid the convenience of the airport exchanges!)
Lastly, it's important that you don't wait too long to make your exchange though, since things are always changing in the world of currencies. There's a chance that the currency you currently have on hand may become outmoded - which would make it impossible to use on your next trip or exchange.
Luckily, that's the kind of news you'd hear about now that you've signed up for the VBCE newsletter.