Travel Tip – Cash’n It In

2010
02.16

One of the challenges I face when traveling is dealing with local currency.  On some Asian trips I need Japanese Yen, Hong Kong Dollars, Chinese Yuan, Korean Wan, and US Dollars.  At home, I use a credit card 99% of the time.  In Asia, that won’t work.  China, in particular, runs on cash.  My hotel takes credit, but I pay cash for all my meals, transportation, & entertainment.  So the question is, how do you keep up with all that?

I carry cash envelopes from my bank.  They’re made for the purpose, and free.  Perfect.  The resealable flap on the top keeps change in, which is especially nice outside the US where people use more coins than we do.

Your bank will gladly give you a few cash envelopes.

The envelope also gives you a nice place to store ATM and cash exchange receipts.  I note both the foreign and domestic values on the envelope.  This helps me when I do my expense reports after the trip.

In Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea, I just us an ATM to get cash.    Most of the time you’ll get a better exchange rate there than you will using your hotel’s exchange service.  In China, I just use the hotel’s front desk.   The rates are controlled by the government, so you’ll get a fair rate, and it couldn’t be any easier.   Just be sure you have enough cash on hand to get to the hotel.    I tend to use an ATM at the airport on my first trip to a new country, and always keep about $20 US worth when I come home, so that I’m not cashless when I land on the next trip.

Try to carry bills that look fairly new.  You may have trouble exchanging bills that are torn, missing corners, or even heavily worn.

Finally, I avoid using the exchange booths in US airports; the fees are 3-5x what they should be.  I suppose it’s convenient to arrive with proper cash in hand, but obtaining it in-country isn’t hard at all, and I see no reason to pay such high fees.

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2 Responses to “Travel Tip – Cash’n It In”

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