You've been planning your trip for months, saving up and sorting out a budget for when you're out there, got travel insurance, researched your destinations, decided what to do and where to stay, booked your flights and hotels - but what is there left to do? Travel money.
The worst thing you can do - and something which is bound to mean you actually lose out on money - is saving converting your money until the last minute. Buying travel money is similar to buying stocks - the foreign exchange market is always changing from minute to minute and these fluctuations can make a significant difference to the amount you receive when making a money transfer, but it's virtually impossible to predict which way it will go.
An exchange rate represents the relative price of two currencies (so, what the amount of one currency is worth in another). Luckily for us, there are certain strategies you can use in order to make exchange rates work for you.
You're likely to get the best exchange rate when you use your credit or debit card in your destination country to either make a purchase or withdraw cash from an ATM By doing this, you're leaving out the middle man and their fees and getting a direct quote for the amount of cash you want to convert. As long as you budget in an amount for ATM cash withdrawal fees, you'll still be getting more from your money than on the high street back home - or, alternatively, just use your credit card for purchases without having to pay any form of conversion fee. Check with your bank and ask them what they charge for foreign transactions. If they charge a huge fee, call around and ask other banks what they're charging. You may be able to find a better deal, but you'll need to plan well ahead.
Check the currency exchange rate
Before you set off for your long-awaited trip, find out what the current exchange rate is. You can easily find this in many newspapers or online. Knowing the exchange rate, even vaguely, is a great defence to have against being offered a bad deal. Before you leave, periodically check on it, and when you're eventually abroad, don't just trust the signs at street vendors.
Take out money according to what you know you will spend
There's nothing worse than being left behind with a wodge of notes in your pocket and then being given a notoriously worse rate when you come home and exchange them back into pounds.
If you have to use exchange kiosks, it's really important that you shop around and compare exchange rates as they will vary widely. Compare at least two or three places before you settle on one place to get your money from. Another tip - exchange kiosks, booths and companies in stations and airports tend to charge hugely inflated prices because of their convenience. If you need cash, it's often best to find a large bank or post office that won't charge these rates.
Get cash in cities, not smaller towns or villages
If you need money whilst you're travelling, it's worth stopping off at larger towns and cities. You're more likely to get a better deal for your dollar if you convert cash in a large cosmopolitan tourist hub of a city rather than a slow-moving village on the outskirts.
Be aware that whilst travelling, carrying a large amount of cash on you can often make you a target for crime and theft. Invest in some good quality travel insurance that ensures your safety. This won't only keep your possessions safe, but should you happen to fall ill or have an accident, travel insurance makes sure that you have the advice and financial support you need to recover and return either home or to your travels.
Alpha Travel Insurance and alphatravelinsurance.co.uk are trading names of Infinity Insurance Solutions Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority: FRN 528912. Registered Office: 1 Tower View, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UY. Company Registration: 4319592. (c) Infinity Insurance Solutions Ltd; All rights reserved.