Cash Carrying Tips for Traveling Abroad

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Paying for a bowl of noodles, a train ticket, or a local beer on the road isn't going to be as simple as pulling out your Visa or Amex card and waving it in front of the cashier.

When traveling outside of your own country, it's best to bring cash with you, since using a credit or debit card will almost always result in a surcharge. And it's going to need a lot more forethought than your typical "simply popping to the ATM" lifestyle.


The first thing I want to know is: Where are you going? In our guide to traveling with money, ATMs, banks, and chip and PIN machines are broken down into areas based on how accessible they are.


Here, you can find out how to get the most out of your next adventure, whether it's a cross-country rail trip across Europe or a skydiving over the Atlantic.


UK, much of Europe, and all of Australia and New Zealand provide easy money

The same laws apply while visiting Europe, Australia, and New Zealand as they do in the United Kingdom.


The first few days in a new country may be a challenge, so it's always a good idea to carry some local cash on you. This is particularly true if you don't yet have access to an ATM.

Your tour is bound to include local shops, marketplaces, and pubs and restaurants that do not take debit or credit cards.
It's important to know that American Express isn't as commonly recognized as other credit cards like Visa and Mastercard. Keep your Visa and Mastercards separate so that you don't lose them at the same time.

In case of an emergency, it's a good idea to have one credit card in your hostel or hotel room.

Instead of carrying huge sums of cash, it is safer to withdraw money from an ATM on a regular basis. While it is handy to get cash from an ATM, most banks impose a fee when you use your card outside of your country of residence.

Don't forget to notify your bank where you're going so that they don't block your card.

Take a cue from the United States and Canada

Despite the fact that debit and credit cards are commonly accepted in the United States and Canada, you'll still need cash for tipping everyone from taxi drivers and hotel porters to waiters and bartenders in this country.

Obtain some US or Canadian currency before you go, so that you'll be prepared to leave a gratuity when you arrive. Keep a supply of one-dollar notes on hand at all times by splitting bigger bills into smaller denominations.

Keep in mind that valet parking costs $5 and that porters often charge $1 per bag.

Preparation is key: consider North and South Africa as well as Japan and Korea

In remote locations (or even smaller towns and cities), even if ATMs are widely available, you may discover that just a few banks accept international cards and that there are no ATMs.

Also, smaller restaurants and businesses may not take credit or debit cards as readily as you are accustomed to. Get your finances in order ahead of time so you don't have to scramble at the last minute.

If you're going on a long journey, don't bring all of your money with you at the start. As a result, plan to withdraw greater quantities from an ATM in a major city or at a railway or airport terminal, where ATMs are both more prevalent and more likely to take international cards.

Most of South America, Southeast Asia, and Africa are cash-based societies

You may be surprised to learn that even the most upscale hotels in these regions don't take credit or debit cards. Traveling across borders necessitates paying for visas in cash, so don't take it for granted that an ATM will be close.

It's no surprise therefore that the US dollar is often regarded as a reserve currency in many of these nations.

You may even locate hotel prices in dollars in Vietnam, for example. If the US dollar is widely recognized, bring both dollars and the local money with you when you go.

Ensure that all banknotes, even those with smaller denominations like $10 and $20, are free of stains and blemishes before handing them out. $100 notes won't be much use while staying at a motel for $20 and eating a meal for $2 in these places.

Due to the fact that you may have to pay for everything in cash, you'll need to put in much more effort up front. Assume that all costs will be paid for in cash, and order the currency you need in advance so that you won't have to hunt down an ATM upon your arrival in the destination country.

Plan to replace your cash every week if you're going on a longer journey and look up where you can locate an ATM online (usually in major towns and airports).

Vietnam and Cuba are examples of nations with closed currencies. This means that outside of the place of origin, the money is not freely accessible. If you're flying in, prepare to use an ATM at the airport and bring US cash with you at all times.
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