Travel Money Tips

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Travel Money Tips

Travel Money Tips

You will want to spend money whilst overseas. There are a number of ways that you can carry your travel money.

Cash for Travel Money

Where to exchange?
Travel money Travel money

When exchanging money, look for exchange houses that show both sell and buy rates. This way you can verify that the spread is reasonable and you are not being ripped off. If this is not possible, look it up on www.xe.com or in the currency exchange below and add a few percentage points to determine what a good exchange rate should be. Haggle.

In India I saved between 5% and 10% by shopping around and haggling over the exchange rate.

You may want to carry a small amount of currency for when you arrive. Airports always give the worst exchange rates. Hotels also give very poor exchange rates traditionally. Banks can take significant time to change money. Money changers, especially where there are multiple changers together are your best bet.
Bring cash in a variety of currencies such as $US, GBP, Euro, AUD and CHF. Also, possibly bring it in your own currency or the currency of your host country. Where do I change the currency? Given that labour rates make up a large percentage of the commission, it is normally better to change money in the country with the lower labour rate.

If your own currency is in a downward spiral and you are heading off in 6 months, it can pay to obtain some cash at home.

Bring new notes
Always remember to bring crisp new notes. Often torn, written on or old and dirty notes will not be accepted. Also, be aware of counterfeit notes.

Larger amounts
Exchange in fewer larger transactions to get the better rates.

Black market
In some countries, there is a black market in the currency. This happens where the country ‘pegs’ its exchange rate artificially high or low. This ’black market’ is illegal to access but in some countries is accessed quite readily. In others, police are there ready to extradite or fine those people accessing it.

Currency limitations and declarations
Some countries have limitations as to the amount of currency that you can bring into or export from. Other countries require you to complete currency declarations, even for small amounts.

ATM for Travel Money

Depending on where you are travelling, using an ATM may be an option. If you are travelling in first world countries such as Europe or USA, you can use credit cards and ATMs more easily.

Availability of ATMs
In third world countries, however, normally, this means carrying cash. In some third world countries there are normally ATMs at the airport or in the capital city but not necessarily in other areas.

High transaction costs
However, these ATMs may have very small cash advance limits. This translates into large transaction costs. In a first world country, you may be able to withdraw $1000 per transaction. If there is a $4 transaction cost then this becomes 0.4% of the transaction. However, when the limit is only $100 then the transaction cost becomes 4%.

If withdrawing from an ATM make it the largest possible withdrawal to save on withdrawal and exchange fees by your bank and the foreign bank. Some banks have reciprocal ATM arrangements in certain countries that may make international withdrawals cheaper.

Citibank advertise a fee free Visa Debit card that allows fee free international transactions on purchases and ATM withdrawals.

Apps for finding ATMs
There are apps for finding ATMs such as ATM Hunter and ATM Finder. These will help you find the nearest ATM. Your bank may also be able to provide you with information on ATMs in the countries you will visit.

Travellers cheques

Travellers cheques are an alternative. However, they will cost you money and may not be easily changeable. They are not used very often these days. I recommend against using travellers cheques these days.

Credit cards for travel money

Transaction costs

Credit Cards are a good alternative for larger purchases. On smaller purchases, the transaction costs can be too high to make it worthwhile.

Local or home currency
Be careful. Often vendors will ask if you wish to pay in local currency or your own currency. If you ask for your own currency then exchange rates can be very poor.

Let credit card company know you will be away
Let your credit card company know you will be travelling so that transactions are not cancelled by the company in your interest when they are flagged as abnormal.

Good credit cards
Hailfax Clarity in the UK is advertised as a card without ATM charges worldwide. If you are from USA, then a Charles Schwab account makes sense. It allows you to withdraw money from any ATM worldwide without paying a single cent for the transaction.

Travel money cards

Travel money cards allow you to lock in an exchange rate before you go. This can be useful. However, exchange rates can be poor and running and transaction costs can be high.

The Travelex Multi Currency Cash Passport Prepaid Mastercard is an option for Australians. There are no overseas ATM fees and there is a $15 setup and $10 closing fee. Providing you do not switch currencies, withdraw in Australia or keep it open over 12 months after you stop using it, it is worth considering.
See www.travelex.com.au

Fee Free Cards
Revolut offers a no fee and great exchange rates for 90 currencies. See revolut.com. They use an APP on your smart phone for the transactions.

Wiring travel money

You can even wire money across to yourself or have someone wire it to you from home. If you wish to wire yourself money, this can be done over the internet from a bank account or credit card you setup.
See www.westernunion.com and www.moneygram.com

Where to keep the money

I recommend that you keep your money in at least 4 different places. These include a little in your wallet in your front pocket. If you are mugged, you should be able to hand over your wallet without too much worry.
Some money should be kept in a money wallet. This is worn under your trousers and should also hold your passport, international vaccination cards (if appropriate) and a USB with copies of all your documentation (tickets, passports, etc).

Your money wallet should never be visible. This is because it alerts would-be thieves that you have money concealed. This can be difficult in airports. However, the chance of thieves in airports is significantly reduced.

Some money should be kept inside your belt. This is a belt that actually has a hidden compartment that allows you to hide enough cash to sustain yourself for a day and get to a bank if everything else is robbed.

The last place to have some cash is inside your luggage. By having your money in different areas, if you get mugged or someone steals one thing, you still have enough money to get to the next point or to a bank to replenish your cash so that you can continue the trip.

In Algeria, I met a guy who had lost all his luggage and money (he had been gassed whilst on a train). He was begging for money so that he could get back to Europe.

In Colombia, I met someone who had been mugged but had asked if he could keep his passport and credit card which the muggers allowed.

Never keep your wallet in your back trouser pocket as this is the easiest place for a pick pocket and an invitation for a would-be thief. That being said, I once had a kid’s hand on my wallet inside my front trouser pocket.

You may be thinking if it is that dangerous to travel why travel at all? In fact, most places are much safer than reported. Also, if you start heading into dangerous areas, locals will usually tell you that you should not be there. If you develop the travel bug, you will probably go to places that people warn you against travelling to because of crime or disease or something else. However, these places can sometimes provide the most amazing travel experiences. If you lost money, you can make some more. If you contract a disease, in most instances, if you are prepared, you will recover quickly. However, if you don’t go, you will never have the experience.


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Cheaper Flight Tips

flying tips

flight tips


REGIONAL HUBS
Choosing your flight route well is a good way to obtain a cheaper flight. Once you know where you want to go, start by joining the points (shortest distance to shortest distance). For most countries, there are one or a few points of entry or gateways, likewise for areas (Europe, Africa, South America).

Asia
Hong Kong
Bangkok
Singapore
Beijing
Dubai

Europe
London
Paris
Frankfurt

South America
Santiago
Buenos Aires
Bogota
Rio de Janiero
Sao Paolo
Lima

North America
Los Angeles
New York
Miami

Africa
Cairo
Casablanca
Johannesburg

Say I wanted to fly from Sydney to Zurich, I would not only search Sydney to Zurich flights direct but also Sydney to Paris CDG and Paris CDG to Zurich. For the Paris/Zurich sector, I would also check the cost of the fast trains.

Country airports

Various entry points

Each country may also have various entry points that may make more sense depending on your itinerary. In the Philippines both Manila and Cebu act as International airports. In India, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata are all international airports. In Italy, Rome, Milan and Naples are all international airports.

Weigh costs of each entry point

Some cities may have multiple airports. London has 4 international airports. The cost of getting from one airport to the centre or town may be significantly more in money or time. This needs to be taken into consideration when booking.

Better using a gateway

When planning a flight to a certain destination, look not only at direct flights but at flights to gateway cities. This can be especially true in Europe, where is may be significantly cheaper to take a flight to a gateway city and then a cheaper flight, train or bus to another destination.

One way, return, open jaw, circle or round the world

There are a number of different types of tickets. One way tickets fly from one point to another. Return will get you there and back. Round the world tickets will get you around the world in one direction. Depending on the airline or alliance, there will be various rules. Open Jaw tickets allow you to fly into one location and back from another. Consider also point to point with stopovers. This allows you to take advantage of an extra location you may wish to explore, often at no extra cost. Circle fares are just that. They allow you to fly around in a circle, stopping at various points.

Discount airlines

Look not only at the main airlines but at discount airlines. Discount airlines can provide significant savings. You need to read the fine print. Most of these airlines only offer the fares through their own websites and are unlikely to show up on travel agents routings or even web based travel agents. Discount airlines can go out of business easily and can also cancel routings at short notice.

This being said, many have been around for many years and offer excellent routings at a fraction of the conventional airlines.

Some discount airlines worth considering are

Europe
Air Berlin
Easyjet
Ryan Air
WOW
Norwegian
German Wings

India
Indigo

Asia
Air Asia
Scoot
Dragon Air
Cebu Air Pacific

Africa
Kulala
Fast Jet
Mango

North America
Jetblue
Westjet
South West Airlines

South America
Gol
Azul Airlines

Australia
Virgin Australia
Jetstar
Virgin Australia offers happy rates for one hour a day so get on their email list if you are looking to fly within Australia or from Australia to somewhere local. This is a great way to get a cheaper flight.

Discount airlines can charge exorbitant fees to check in at the airport. Check the rules carefully before purchasing and if this is the case ensure that you check in on line.

Other ways to a cheaper flight

Fly midweek and off peak times

A good way to get a cheaper flight is to fly off peak. Generally business people fly Monday and Friday whilst tourists fly most on Friday and Sunday. This means that midweek fares are often cheaper with Wednesday being the best.

Also, try and book outside peak times. For instance, Europe is at peak from June to August. It is also most crowded during this period. So try and book outside this time.

Early morning or late night flights are normally cheapest.

Student discounts

If you are a full time student, there are substantial savings available. If you are under 26 years of age and are not a full time student, it can sometimes be worthwhile to sign up for a full time course just to get the ISIC (International Student Identification Card).

Cheaper flight for children

Air tickets for toddlers under 2 years are normally significantly cheaper. If they sit on your lap or lie in a basket, they will be charged as little as 10% of the fare. Children up to 12 years of age are often charged 50% of the fare. However, on discount airlines, they are often charged full fare.

Cheaper ethnic flights

If you want to fly to a Spanish speaking country buy a Spanish newspaper, to Israel buy the Jewish newspaper, etc. These will often have discounted flights to the country you wish to visit. Also, often there are travel agents who specialise in a certain region. These are sometimes worth a look.

Code sharing

Sometimes two or more airlines use the same physical aeroplane to fly a route, using separate CODEs so that they can share the route. What this means is that there is sometimes a discrepancy between prices between one airline and another for the same seat on the same aeroplane. Check all airline companies to make sure you are getting the best rate.

Alliances

Many airlines and airline groups (Star Alliance, OneWorld and Sky Team) have loyalty options and points systems. Points can be earned on one airline and used on another. These can significantly increase the value of your tickets. Using the points later on will result in a cheaper flight.

Search multiple sites

Search multiple sites. You may consider using companies such as Expedia, Ebookers, Farecompare, Opodo, Zuji, Travelocity, Orbitz, Kayak, AirfareWatchdog, Yapta and Hipmunk. However, do not forget to keep an eye on the airline’s own website deals. Sometimes one will be cheaper, at other times another will be the winner. In most cases, they will result in a cheaper flight.

Sporting equipment

If carrying sporting equipment, (golf clubs, skis, etc), call the airline. Some airlines have generous limits as long as it is packed the way they want. This can save a great deal of money.

Overcoming luggage weight limitations

To save weight in your luggage wear your heaviest shoes and jacket on the flight and keep photographic equipment in your carry on. This can save on excess baggage.

Getting Better Value

Changing flights

The cheapest airline tickets will not allow you to change flight details at all. If you are likely to change your flights this will cost you money. You will need to check your flights can be changed.

Search for inspiration

Use http://www.kayak.com/explore to find cheap flights from a particular departure point. This may give you inspiration as to the best value destinations in a certain area from your point of origin. You may also try www.skypicker.com.

Airport parking

If you are intending to park at the airport for a short trip, then get yourself onto their email lists. Quite often, discounted parking is available. This will make the cost of your overall flight cheaper.

Upgrade (Just like a cheaper flight)
Dress for an upgrade

If the economy section is overbooked then some people will be upgraded to business class. If you are dressed in daggy clothes you will not be chosen for that upgrade.

Fly for an upgrade

These days, dressing for an upgrade is not sufficient. You need to be flying with the company (or Alliance) regularly.

I once flew with Qantas three times in the year before taking a flight to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific (booked through Qantas Frequent Flyers). I was to be flying premium economy. Originally I was to fly business but because it took too long for my wife to decide, I missed out. I explained this to the person I booked with. I was to meet my wife and daughter in Hong Kong.

I arrived at the airport check in and was greeted with a smile and “Mr Josephs, you have been upgraded to business class”. I had just worked a one hundred hour week to ensure everything was done before the holiday and was so tired I would have slept on the flight anyway. I was in heaven.

TSA locks

If flying to USA, remember locks should be TSA approved. If they are not and the customs people decide they want to access your bags, they will cut off the padlocks, leaving you without any security, causing you to re-buy them at the airport.

Liquids, Swiss army knife, spare batteries, etc

Do not bring liquids in hand luggage. If flying from South America to Australia, flights stop in New Zealand. Leave any duty free wine on the plane or it will be confiscated.

Also, your Swiss army knife is now considered a deadly weapon by governments around the world and will be confiscated if brought in hand luggage.

Spare lithium batteries that are not in your camera, smart phone, etc are now deemed a threat and may be confiscated.

Have your laptop accessible as you will need to pass it through security in some countries.

Special meals

If you have any special food requirements (vegetarian, kosher, etc), let the airline know in advance. If you want your meal served before others, then choose a special meal. These are delivered first.

Check your luggage to final destination

If you are not flying direct, check your luggage to your final destination. This way you can walk around the airport or take a trip to town at your stopover and just cart hand luggage around.

Flights can get cold

Planes can get cold and the airline blankets are thin. On budget airlines blankets need to be purchased. Bring an extra jacket on board.

Shoes Off

On long flights, take your shoes off and walk around on the plane. This will make you more comfortable and prevents DVT. Some people need to wear special stockings to prevent the DVT.

Reconfirming Flights

Some flights still need to be reconfirmed. Check when purchasing if this is the case with the airlines you use when you purchase them.

Jokes at customs

Do not make jokes with border guards. Jokes about bombs can get you thrown in jail.

Carry essentials as hand luggage

Have all your essentials in your hand luggage (tickets for next day, money, passport, etc.). That way if worst case scenario happens and your luggage is lost, you can carry on with your travels.

Layovers

If you have a long layover en route, ensure you can enter the stopover country and see or do something if time permits.

If there is no time to get to town, do something and get back, then check if there is a transit hotel. A good rest can make you feel alive and ready for a day of activity when you arrive at your destination. Without it, you may need to find a place to sleep.

If there is no transit hotel, then see if there is an option for a shower and a meal or if you are entitled to use an airport lounge for free.

Equalising Pressure

When a plane takes off or lands, people experience pressure on their middle ear. Everyone experiences this differently. There are a number of things that can be done about it.

  • Chew or suck lollies or gum
  • For babies use a milk bottle
  • Click with the tongue on the roof of the mouth
  • Pinch your nose, close your mouth and breathe out
  • Swallow
  • Wiggle your jaw
  • Yawn
Arrival and security lines

Queue in the line with the business men rather that the family with kids. It moves faster and you waste less time in the queue.

Airport Taxes

Whilst most airport taxes are included in your ticket these days, there are still places where you need to pay a tax at the airport.

I recently had this experience at Tagbilaran, Philippines.


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Planning Tips

When planning your trip, you will hear a lot of advice. Some may include:

plan travel

plan travel

  • Work out where you want to go and remember that some countries offer better value, some are safer.
  • Earn points with your credit card. Get a card that earns you points. This will save you money.
  • Value the savings on your trip. Quitting that $5 a day coffee habit for a year could mean at extra 2 months in South East Asia. The multiplier effect of income earned in your country and spent in the third world could mean 5 times the value in the third world. To this effect, an extra job may be worth considering.
  • Longer holidays mean better value. Your largest expense in travelling is getting there and getting around. Also, accommodation can be negotiated down the longer you stay.
  • Attend travel shows, collect brochures from travel agents, read the newspaper travel sections, search the internet, look up each country’s official tourism site, and speak to friends and relatives who have travelled. Find more remote areas for friendlier purer experiences.
  • You could consider renting out your home. Alternatively, you could swap houses.  If you are travelling for long periods, you may need to organise someone to care for your house in absentia. You may consider power of attorney. You will also need to work out how to pay bills over the internet.
  • Sell the stuff you will not need any more and store the rest. Turn off the electricity at the mains. This will save the power drain when devices are in standby mode. Subscribe to email lists to turn out good promotions. If you intend to driver, remember to obtain an international drivers license.

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If you have any Planning Tips, this is the place to provide them.


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