How do you look after your money while travelling?

Travel and MoneyI receive lots of travel related questions from readers of The Travel Hack but I was sent one last week that stumped me and it’s a question that I should really know the answer to:

“What’s the best way to look after your money while you’re travelling?”

I travel all the time, I should know this!

Of course, I began with a trusty Google search, confident that I’d find the answer there. After hours of research I was even more confused about the best way to look after your money while you’re abroad.

Personally, I exchange a small amount of cash (usually at the Post Office) before I leave and make sure I have enough for taxis and emergencies. I then simply withdraw cash using my regular debit card from an ATM. Whenever possible I use an ATM that doesn’t charge but this isn’t always possible.

Travelling with my money in this way is simple and hassle-free but I’m sure I’m losing out on exchange rates and withdrawal fees. When I was in the US I was being charged up to £4.50 for each withdrawal due to my bank charging me and then the ATM charging me too.

I’ve asked around and everyone seems to use a different method to look after their foreign currency.

Some people will use a pre-paid travel card, others use bank accounts that don’t charge (even if it means changing banks or opening a new account), some people just use cash and many use credit cards. But which is best?

So I’d like to put this to you. How do you look after your money while you’re travelling?

Let us know in the comments below and hopefully one solution will stand out as the best!

  1. Jessica 7 years ago

    This is terrible to admit, but the best money management when travelling I’ve had was the one I took round SE Asia where I had just been paid in cash from my teaching job. I was away for five weeks and kept all my money in my makeup bag, rolled up with multicolored elastic bands to show my budget for different times and activities.
    I cringe about it now, thinking about what could of gone wrong, but it was one of the most hassle free trips I’ve had money wise.
    Probably wouldn’t recommend it though! X x

  2. Kirstie 7 years ago

    I like a good mix, just in case! I’ve used pre-paid travel cards in the past which I love for the piece of mind – I top it up as I go so that if it’s stolen I only lose a small amount. You can’t avoid ATM charges with that though, just the bank charges (but shop around because some pre-paid cards have loads of charges for all sorts of things). Then I’ll have enough for a few days in local currency and if it’s a longer trip, around $200 emergency money (it’s got me out of sticky situations in the past!)

  3. MW 7 years ago

    I carry some cash just in case, but use credit cards whenever possible, even for small charges. I never use cash unless there’s no other option. Credit card charges earn points (cash earns nothing) and, more importantly, issuers offer fraud protection so if your cards are stolen you’re not responsible for fraudulent charges. If your cash is stolen you’re often out of luck.

  4. How you handle your money depends on where you go – in Southeast Asia you can’t use a credit card for most things (unless you’re only staying in high-end places and spending a ton) so you need a good ATM card, but in other places like the States, everyone just pays by credit.

  5. If you travel a lot, it’s worth the trouble to open new accounts just to avoid fees. All you need is a credit card with no currency conversion fees, a debit card with no ATM fees, and you’re set!

  6. Maddie 7 years ago

    We keep a bank account open just for travel that doesn’t charge for any international withdrawals, it’s with Norwich and Peterborough Building society. For people that travel a lot it’s a perfect solution. We also have a back-up credit card from Halifax that does the same thing. I never get money exchanged beforehand, just wait until we arrive at the airport and get it out for free.

    • Fantastic idea, I’m going to look into this – I’ve heard about the N&P card before but not thought about getting money out at the air port for free

  7. Things to Think About When Planning Your Trip | The Travel Hack 7 years ago

    […] Money and budgeting is probably your next most important thing to consider. Having enough cash to cover a cab to your accommodation is definitely a good idea, but travelling with more than that is probably unnecessary. Cash is helpful, but most often a credit card will do, just remember to call ahead and alert your credit card company. Save yourself the ten-minute game of charades with the concierge about how you do have the money, and call ahead to make sure Visa doesn’t cancel your hotel payment. […]

  8. Lorena 7 years ago

    When travelling in EU I use the Caxton fx currency card (its also available in dollars). You load your money before going or whilst there with the app. They give a better exchange rate than other cards or the banks, plus you don’t get charged when withdrawing money!

    • TheTravelHack 7 years ago

      I’ve heard a lot about the Caxton FX card and that app sounds really handy too.

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