Make sure you understand the local money and conversion rates! Also, avoid pricey conversion services by using local ATMs.
ATMs are easy to find. You’ll normally see several of them, varying banks and branches, huddled near each other. You might have to try your luck with a few different machines (sometimes they run out of money around their holidays) and try to find the one with lowest outgoing fees, but this is by far the easiest way to get local money. However, keep in mind, those fees add up.
TIP: Call your bank and request a daily limit increase so you can keep transactions and fees as minimal as possible.
Speaking of ATM fees…
After years of griping about how much the banks are ripping people off with these astronomical fees, I did some research and found some banks have an ATM fee reimbursement program!! What?! I just recently switched to Radius Bank, opened a hybrid checking account, received my card and voila… I’m already withdrawing fee-free. This is a game changer, to be honest.
For transferring funds between banks, internationally, I find TransferWise to be uh-mazing. It’s fast, the rates are about 1/4 of what my US bank was charging me for outgoing transfers and it’s crowdsourced. It’s an interesting business model, and I’m just happy to reap the benefits of fast, cheap, reliable transfers.
Yes, PayPal comes in handy while traveling! While touring through Southeast Asia, we exclusively book our hotels through the Agoda website. They not only offer the cheapest rates possible, but they also accept PayPal, which lets you keep your crispy cash in your pocket for more fun and spontaneous stuff, like street food and train rides!
This is a hard one to keep up with, especially if you’re really moving around between countries.
- Thailand $1 = 34.36 baht
- Vietnam $1 = 22722.11 đồng
- Cambodia $1 = 4027.71 riel (although, they also accept US dollars!)
- Laos $1 = 8237.23 kip
As you can see, these are NOT easy numbers to quickly “do the math” – but wherever you are, take your time! Mistakes can be costly (and embarrassing)
We went out for seafood and I ordered crab. Not just any ordinary crab, but the king of all crabs. A sea monster, of sorts, and I wanted to eat it. The lady weighed the crab and showed me, in Vietnamese đồng, how much it was. I quickly did the math in my head and somehow came to the conclusion it was $35. I felt like a baller, eating garlic chili roasted crab, drinking beer, ocean front on a warm night in Da Nang. A meal fit for a queen, at $35.
Ahhhh, life is good!
Then she brings the check.
In reality, the king of all crabs cost $350 – and I agreed to it. It hurt to admit how very wrong I was, but it was a delectable lesson learned.
Watch those zeros!
Daisey is a UX designer for Art+Logic by day, soul/funk singer by night, full of love and always smiling.