Travel Tuesday: Travel Money Guide

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It’s Travel Tuesday so in an attempt to get back to my usual posting schedule I have decided to put up this article, which is not an exhaustive guide but should help point you in the right direction for travel money for short and long term travelling and trips.

Cash machines, banks, travellers cheques, pre-paid credit cards. You have loads of options.

Most people take their money out at a bureau de change (or travel agent) before they leave their hometown. Some people do it at the airport before they depart, or on the ferry. The exchange rates on both are poor and you tend to get very little for your money. There are plenty of other options for sorting out your money abroad, as I found last year when I drove from York UK to Rome Italy in my car.

A laid back attitude can save you loads in exchange fees, and don’t worry, if you can’t find an ATM, most places (including every toll road between here and Rome, every petrol station we went to, and every hotel we stayed in) take credit and debit cards, they’re not baffled by chip and pin, and when you’re at the till, facing a helpful attendant, you’ll probably find trying to articulate your petrol pump number more difficult than the actual paying part. That was my experience, anyway.

When I got home, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my bank hadn’t charged me all those crazy fees they scare you with for using your cards abroad, either. I used both my credit and debit card, depending what I felt like at the time. I was working for minimum wage at a supermarket at the time so I wasn’t well off and bank charges were my biggest worry. Banks love to charge you for accessing your money abroad.

Here’s what I found out about your money options when you go abroad:

1. Cash machines.
The absolute easiest thing to do these days is to just put your card in a cash machine when you get abroad and take some money out in the local currency. I take mine out in blocks of about £200 to make sure I’m making the most of currency charges. I’ve found this to be a LOT cheaper than any bureaux de change either here or on the ferry, and it’s more convenient than carrying round all the money for a longer trip. If you’re staying for a month or two, a foreign bank account might be worth opening. You usually need your passport, proof of address, proof of UK address, and sometimes they want a signed reference e.g. from an employer or college at the country you’re staying in. Check with individual banks for details.

2. Travellers Cheques/ Cheques de Voyage
Nobody uses/accepts these any more, and places probably shouldn’t be issuing them nowadays. It’s like the financial equivalent of a gramophone.

3. Pre-paid credit card
If you’re venturing off alone for the first time, these are a great idea, because you can leave your main bank cards etc at home, so if you get pickpocketed or held up at gunpoint, you can feel safe in the knowledge that your Boots Advantage Card is safe in your house. Unless your house gets robbed. Personally, I would take my usual card with me because one call to the bank gets it cancelled anyway, but it’s up to you because confidence is really important when travelling (especially if you have anxiety) and if this makes you feel more confident about venturing abroad, then go for it.

4. The following banks have branches outside the UK: HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Deutsche Bank (obviously, this is a German bank, but they have a few branches in the UK so you could open an account here before you go abroad and would be an excellent choice if moving to Germany for more than a few months as they have branches EVERYWHERE). Citibank offer a service where you can open a 2nd account in a destination country before you leave the UK if you have a UK account with them (their branches are all in London), and they’re fairly well represented across Europe, so could be a good choice if you are looking to work abroad for a while – especially since you can transfer up to £50,000 instantly between your UK and foreign Citi account, perfect for trips home. All these banks are mentioned because they have branches in several countries across Europe. Outside of Europe, you are probably looking at Barclay’s or HSBC, although they tend to only have branches in capital cities. HOWEVER accounts tend to be country specific so there is generally a more limited range of things you can do in your own bank abroad, check each bank individually to see which ones would be most useful if you’re going abroad. If you’re spending more than a couple of months abroad, it’s well worth opening a foreign bank account and if it’s with your own bank that you bank with in the UK, you should be able to transfer money between accounts and currencies more easily, and some will even do it for free (although this varies, so check).

Here’s a handy link for a list of banks in every country in Europe (and some countries that are clearly NOT in Europe, such as Azerbaijan; thanks Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_banks_in_Europe

Those are the travel money options (unless you want to take a flock of chickens for bartering instead). What do you do about money when you go abroad?

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The Pros and Cons Tag

So I saw this pros and cons tag on Megan’s blog: here

1. Write a list of things you think are “pros” about yourself. 

2. Write a list of things you think are “cons” about yourself.

3. Post and share! If you’d like to link back to this post, that’s cool too, but I’m not saying that’s necessary. 

1. Pros:

I think big.  I dream big and have a lot of big plans and ideas of all the things I want to do and achieve.

I have finally got my hair to the colour I’ve always wanted, and it’s been like this for about 8 months now.

I really really care about rabbits, as well as other soft fluffies, featheries, and so on, to the point where I want to take them all home and look after them all.

I come across as very confident even though I have no self esteem.  Although that’s less “fake it till you make it” and more “fake it till this depressive phase ends or I’ll be stuck in the house for weeks.”

I absolutely LOVE the great outdoors even though I also love being curled up at home with a good book, or having a chinwag when I’m out on the town with friends.

I’ve pretty much resolved my panic attacks by finding out what causes them and trying to take action to avoid that general situation, coupled with mindfulness techniques to calm myself for when the situation is unavoidable.

I love health and nutrition and am always finding new ways to improve the nutritional quality of the food I eat.

I try very hard not to let my cray cray affect my daily life.  Sometimes I succeed at this for weeks or months at a time.

2. Cons:

These can be pretty much summed up by: “I am a perfectionist, and I am as crazy as a bag of frogs.”

As soon as I’ve achieved something, I can’t celebrate that success, I’m looking for the next thing to achieve.

If I decide I’ve touched something dirty, or that someone else with dirty hands has touched, I have to wash my hands.

Sometimes that includes the tap handles, which obviously creates a negative feedback loop if I can’t clean them.

PRO: This almost never happens when I’m outdoors, which is bizarre when you think of all the bacteria out there.

I start pining for the fjords when I’m kept in a cage of day to day working for long periods of time, which makes me miserable.  I’m a free bird and I don’t cope very well with pointless “gainful” employment even though it gives me money to do stuff.  I’m even worse with part-time where I have to stick around to go to work but don’t get enough money to do stuff.

Sometimes I can go for entire weeks on a few hours’ sleep, other times I need 16 hours a day.

The above makes it very difficult to keep a job for longer than a few months.

I can be very particular about tasks, because I want to make sure they’re done properly.

I can be far too honest for my own good, including paying full price at attractions, returning money to people, reporting problems, paying for things when people have forgotten to charge me, etc.  I think life would be easier if I didn’t do this, but I can’t help it.

Sometimes I get bored and have so much energy that I go off and do something that seems like a great idea at the time but often turns out to be really stupid.  Then I regret it 6 weeks later when I’m back to normal…

…Other times I can’t leave the house for weeks on end, or I just can’t go to work.

The worst one of all: I am 28 and I have no fricking clue what I want to do with my life despite having tried 26 different jobs in the past 10 years (not including the five different businesses I’ve run in the past, and not including multiples of the same job role, so for example I’ve worked in several secondary schools as a science teacher but am counting science teacher as one job).  I’ve got to run out of things and decide what to do sometime soon, right??

Wow.  That was quite scary writing all that down and putting it out on the internet.  It’s not exhaustive.  If you want to tag yourself and do the pros and cons tag, feel free to link back or link to Megan’s original article, I’d love to see what other people think are their strengths and weaknesses.