One of the most exciting and frustrating things about traveling is having to deal with foreign currency. If managing your money stresses you out before you even get on a plane — fear not!
Though the unfamiliar coins and notes mean you need to be more vigilant when you’re shopping, keeping track of your money means being organized.
Your entire trip is dependent on the money that you’re carrying around, so organizing your money and making sure it’s kept safe and sound throughout the trip is pertinent. Here are some tips for handling and organizing your money when you travel.
Organizing your money quickly and easily
Nothing’s more frustrating than having to dig through your coin pouch to find the right change, and it’s not particularly safe to pull out wads of bills to sort either if you’re out in a crowded marketplace. While your wallet may be a mess at home, discipline yourself when managing your cash overseas. Designate certain areas, or even certain wallets, for different currencies.
Generally when I’m traveling I’m using only local currency. Any money that I might have (from my home country for example) are normally hidden away in my backpack or suitcase and kept in a safe place in my hotel room.
Use separate pockets/pouches for different currencies
You’re not going to need your home currency when you’re in a foreign land, so why carry that around with you? Put it in the safe in the hotel or lock it up! Back in the day when film cameras were more widespread (I’m revealing my age aren’t I), I used those little plastic canisters to store and sort all my different coin currency.
Splitting and Stashing Your Money
As I mentioned in my last post on shopping, don’t keep all your money in one spot just in case you get pickpocketed. I usually have a main wallet where I pay for most of my expenses from, but I also have some ‘safety money’ stashed away, both on my person and in my luggage.
After I’m done for the day, I usually spend the evening sorting out how much I have left in my main wallet, and organizing my money and moving it around accordingly. It’s not a bad way to keep your money safe, but it takes some work trying to remember where you have money stashed!
Where do you stash your money when you don’t have a safe and you want it hidden somewhere not easily found?
Some of my favorite hiding spots
- Inside a journal/book I’m carrying
- In my passport or passport holder
- With my dry toiletries (like sanitary pads!)
- With my spare shoes
…I also know some women make use of padded bras as a handy hiding places.
Using Your Cards to Pay
Some people forgo carrying wads of money around and just carry an ATM card instead, withdrawing money as and when they need it. In some places of the world, this may or may not be an option.
While it’s a quick and easy way to have local currency on hand without worrying about how to keep it, banks will almost always charge you a fee to withdraw money. This might not be worthwhile on short trips, but it’s definitely a must if you’re going to be on long trips.
I carry an ATM card for emergencies, and also a credit card for bigger ticket purchases so I don’t use my changed currency so quickly.
Make sure you keep an eye on your credit card bills when you return though – it always helps to keep an eye for any charges you didn’t authorize.
On my trip around South America I had some money distributed in pockets and the rest I kept in my bra. I never carried my ATM card apart from the days that I was withdrawing money when I would go straight to the ATM and back again as quickly as possible, the rest of the time it was stashed in my backpack. I try to put things in unlikely or unpleasant places (who wants to rifle through a dirty laundry bag or a pair of trainers??!!). A tube of vitamin pills can be a good hiding place, especially if you put a few pills on top of the roll of notes.
I really like your travel tips! I keep my currency in many places while traveling as well. Pads are an excellent place to keep cash. You are right, many banks do charge a lot to take cash out but they are generally a necessity on longer trips – or if you’ve gone over budget!
Thanks Runaway Brit and Claire! I love finding out what people do with their cash because sometimes I feel like a paranoid squirrel hiding money EVERYWHERE (and yes, i have occasionally stashed things too well and only realize i have spare money hidden there when I’m turning my bag out after the trip!)
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Great post! I will definitely be hitting this topic on my blog but since you’ve got it covered, I’ll reference you for sure!
Thanks Maribel! Glad you found it useful