Money makes the world go ’round. And you need money to go around the world.
If you’re travelling overseas on a short trip, here are some ways I recommend you bring money abroad.
Before I travel, I check how much is the average tourist spend per day in the destination. You can find it at lonelyplanet.com‘s “Money and Cost” section for each country.
Here’s one for Indonesia:
I take the amount of money and multiply it by the number of days I’m travelling.
If I’m lazy (which is usually the case), I go with an estimate of spending $50 a day (after taking away the pre-booked accommodation cost).
If I’m going to Indonesia for five days, I would exchange $250 to Indonesian Rupiah before heading to Indonesia.
Then I’ll also bring about $100 of Singapore dollar with me, as back up.
I bring along a credit card as a back up too. If I’m spending larger amounts of money (for example during shopping or a grand meal), I tend to use my credit card.
Even though there’s transaction fees for credit cards, I find them not that exorbitant. I prefer bringing a credit card than large wads of cash. (Phebe from The Travelling Squid recommends using credit cards in Korea.)
But when you reach home, be alert and see if there’s any suspicious spend on your card. If there is, get in touch with your bank.
ATM Card linked to a separate bank account
Cash is king in developing countries so bringing an ATM card with you is a safe bet too. But don’t use your main ATM card for this.
Before you travel, I want you to set up a new banking account for your trip.
In this account, put a comfortable amount of money ($500 or so). If your ATM card is stolen, at least the thieves won’t get to your life savings.
Update May 30: Reader Esme says she uses her credit card to withdraw money while overseas. I’ve always been worried about cash advance charges but she reassured that it wasn’t too much.