Money Exchange For RTW Travel
Today I have a question from a reader about money exchange!
Nicole sent me over this question:
“Hi, Arnette!! My boyfriend and I are fellow Canadian nomads. We are planning a round the world trip in June 2014. One of the concerns we have is about money exchange and how we can do it in a cost-effective way. I am concerned most of our savings will be going to foreign currency exchange. I am struggling to find a blog that even talks about money exchange? What have you found is the cheapest way to exchange funds?? Thanks so much! – Nicole”
Thanks for your email. I am not a money or foreign exchange expert but I’ll share my experience from my travels.
Money exchange when traveling especially on a round the world trip is a tough one. I always find that no matter what happens you’ll always lose out on the exchange because someone has to make money in the end and it’s definitely not the traveler!
What I did/do:
I’m a resident of the USA so I have a Charles Schwab bank account. I specifically opened this account prior to my RTW because there are no fees for ATM withdrawals anywhere in the world including the United States. I get charged initially but at the end of the month, my account is credited back for any ATM fees. I am not sure which Canadian banks have little to no fees for international withdrawals. Perhaps try a bank that has a lot of branches worldwide like HSBC, etc.
**If you’d like to open a Schwab account, click this link and use this code: REFERNPAVB**
Taking out money in Tokyo
- I put my savings in a high-interest savings account which earned me more interest than a typical savings account. I would then transfer money in between the high -interest savings account to my Charles Schwab account when I was ready to take some money. We might as well make some interest while we’re traveling since money is just sitting there!
- When arrived at a new airport/country, I would find a bank affiliated ATM machine to take out money (be careful of foreign money exchange bank machines). Because I have a Schwab account, I was not worried about taking out smaller sums because I wasn’t charged service fees. You might want to take out more money to incur fewer fees. I also didn’t take out large amounts because I was concerned about safety and carrying a lot of cash because I am a solo female traveler.
- I carried US cash in different denominations for an emergency situation and necessity. As an example, when entering Vietnam and Cambodia, they want US cash for your visa at the airport/border. Make sure the US cash that you carry always stays crisp. If bills are overly wrinkled, they do not accept it.
Yen yen bills y’all
Trip money tips:
- I stocked away $100 US in a weird random spot so in the case of an emergency, I could get myself out of a sticky situation. I did have my bank card stolen when I was in Cambodia, so it was handy to have cash. I also carried another backup ATM card for this purpose (helpful when on a long-term trip). It will be handy for you and your boyfriend/friend/husband to carry separate cards for this reason.
- Sometimes you may have excess money left over because you took out too much. If I was leaving via an airport and had leftover funds I would just go to the money exchange and change it for the next destination’s currency. Try not to exchange at the airport, it’s the worst rate. But at that point, what are you going to do with the money? I still have money from Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Europe (Euros), Czech Republic, and the Philippines. I am hoping that I can use them for future trips! Some airlines like Qantas collect any coins on the flight and give them to charity. I hate the extra weight on me, so I donate it.
- My best recommendation would be to get a travel-friendly bank account, bank card, and credit card. Give yourself time to open up a new account and apply for a credit card.
- Make sure that you let your bank and credit card companies know you are traveling around the world. Nothing is worse than being in a foreign country and not having access to your funds. It happened to me once so now I always call in to let them know.
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More helpful posts:
Do you have any other money exchange tips to share with my readers? Leave comments below!