Foreign Currency Exchange
When traveling to a foreign country, when and where should you exchange your currency for theirs?
For those living in a city that has a foreign exchange bureau, you may consider getting some money in advance, perhaps $200.00 or so, depending on the length of your visit. I live in Evansville, Indiana and we do not have a foreign exchange bureau. The institutions that I do my banking with can get foreign currency in a few days, for a fee.
I do not choose this option, unless necessary. For example, when I was traveling to Morocco, my flight was due to arrive at midnight. Upon arrival, I was going to have to take a taxi to my hotel. I couldn’t be sure that the currency exchange places would be open at that hour, even in the airport terminal, so I felt I had to acquire the local currency in advance. My local bank was able to accommodate this request in a few days’ time.
When you arrive into a foreign country without the local currency, I usually recommend that you get some exchanged at the airport, particularly if you are exchanging cash. Depending on your location, day and time, it may be difficult to find a place that can exchange your currency for the local currency. If you will be using an ATM card to get your cash, it will be much easier, as you can usually do that at any ATM location. It is still a good idea to have a back-up plan (cash on hand or an alternate ATM card) in case you have trouble with your preferred ATM card.
Prior to travel it is best to contact your bank and /or credit card companies to let them know you will be traveling outside the country and be sure that your card/cards are valid for use in your travel destination.
Traveler Checks – forget it! These are a thing of the past and many countries, banks and currency exchange bureaus no longer accept them.
It is best to have a separate coin purse or other place to keep your home currency separate from the local currency. You don’t want to have to sort through a bunch of mixed up change or bills to find the correct money when making local purchases.
Finally, when it is time to fly home or to another location, NEVER put money in your checked luggage. While this may seem obvious, it is important that you don’t even put coins in your checked luggage. The coins will present themselves during the luggage screening process. This can make your bag a target for thieves. Where there are coins, there may be bills, so don’t open yourself up to this possibility.
Later I will share more information about the safe handling of your valuables.