From my experience after many years working for a currency provider, I have observed that there are three types of traveler personalities (no matter if you travel with someone or alone). The first, is a kind of person who likes to prepare well for the holidays, has general interest in the destination and always checks for all the best deals when it comes to taking currency abroad. The other type of personality characterizes someone who goes on holiday but does not plan and buys currency whenever convenient. These people also tend to use their cards without any concerns about possible charges. Finally, the third type of traveler is someone who is disorganized and lost in the whole holiday planning process or simply has no clue about money exchange. This person often forgets about exchanging currency completely and has to look for somewhere at the last minute. The last two types of travelers are the ones most likely to be influenced by marketing gimmicks and offers – and by sellers who mislead customers just to sell their product or achieve a particular target.
No matter what type of traveler you classify yourself as, what is important is that you are aware of some exchange rate tricks that sellers offer and also of currency restrictions in the country you travel to. Once you decide on your holiday destination, the first thing you should check is the currency used. Even if you have booked an all-inclusive holiday, a little money are always useful in case of emergencies. Once the currency is known try to find out whether this is a restricted currency and how much money you are allowed to bring in. In some countries even small amounts have to be declared, and if they are not, Customs have a right to take them away from you when crossing the border.
If currency is restricted you could use an alternative option, a pre-paid card. These days, most exchange bureaus offer them. They allow you to put certain amount of money on the card and you can withdraw it as cash at the destination or use it as a normal payment without paying any fees. It is also very secure way of carrying money due to its security features. However, it does have some drawbacks; often you have to pay to have it issued plus some countries do not commonly use the cards. Once money is loaded on the card the rate is fixed.
Some travelers prefer the more traditional way of carrying money – traveler’s cheques. However, take into account the fact that these are not en-cashed at all places.
If you are the type of person who likes to have cash in the hand, make sure you exchange your money with all the precautions. Try to avoid unregistered bureaus as they may sell you forged notes. Also, places like airports are not the best. They know you need the currency at the last minute and you will never get a good rate. Check for commission charges, some providers reduce them if a high value is changed. However, if this is the case, remember to just change as much money as you need, do not get tempted by the offers.
The trickiest question is where to exchange currency – at the destination or in your town. This really varies. You could split the value into two exchanges, some in your country and some at the destination. But is it really worth the trouble to look for exchange bureaus during your holidays? The decision is yours!