First Time Tour Tips: Taking Money Overseas

Tue, 28/11/2017 - 3:41pm
Read Time: 5.2 mins

Learning the best ways to carry and use money while travelling internationally is much better learnt now while reading this story than when you’re stuck overseas without access to any of your money and you have to ask your friends for cash to pay for the hotel until you can get access to yours, the day after tomorrow, because it just so happens to be a public holiday back home…...yes this happened to me in Bali. Insider tip: even if you’re using your debit card overseas, you probably have to actually select ‘credit’ in order to be able to use it at the atm.

Trust me when I say that you don’t want to end up in an entirely avoidable situation like this one, so instead here are some quick tips on what your foreign exchange options are when headed overseas, how best to carry cash, keep your cards safe, and some general info on tipping etiquette...basically your one stop shop on all things mullah for your next trip.


How to actually get foreign currency

1. First stop should be heading over to Travel Money NZ,  cause not only do they have the goods, the mullah, the exotic foreign dollahs but they charge no fees or commission on cash and EFTPOS transactions for international currency exchange! BOOM, mind blown, done deal, too easy!

Plus you can even order your cash online and pick it up whenever suits!

2. Don’t leave it until the last minute and purchase your currency at the airport. You’ll end up paying extra here with a not great exchange rate and high service fees.

3. If you have a bit of time up your sleeve before your trip, set up a Currency Alert, where you’re able to pick a rate you’d like to see, and then Travel Money NZ will email you once the rate hits that mark.

4. Skip the bank fees - they’re everywhere, even when purchasing foreign currency, what a surprise! Often you’ll have to wait several days for the currency to arrive and are charged a commission fee on top of the base exchange rate.

5. Get ‘cash passport’ before you go to lock in your exchange rate when it’s a great deal. These days there are numerous pre-paid travel money card options that offer great features such as the Multi-currency Cash Passport™, where you lock in the exchange rate the day you load^, you’re given a backup card and can use the card at over 35 million locations worldwide, essentially wherever MasterCard is accepted.

How to carry your money when on a group tour

6. Keep your money and valuables (passport, phone, iPad, SD and SIM cards etc.) on you while you’re in transit, especially if you’re going to be sleeping in the airport, or on a train or a plane. Don’t put them in any checked luggage that you can’t keep an eye on.

7. Similarly, don’t keep all of your cash/travel cards in the one place. Divide up your cash and cards and stash them in different places on your person and throughout your luggage. One tip also is to keep some money in your shoe - I used to always keep a $50 note underneath the innersole of my Doc Martens, as a last resort safety blanket.

8.  Another good habit is to always put your different cards, cash, mobile phone, lip balm etc back in the same pockets so you become used to being able to check where everything is quickly, subtly and without having to pull everything out in front of prying eyes.

9. Always keep the smallest bills on the outside of a roll of cash. Though keep larger bills tucked away and only bring them out in a safe place, after you’ve made your way through your other easier to access wad of smaller bills used for things like coffee, entry fees etc.

10. If you’re travelling with a friend or partner, split your money and cards between the two of you in case you get separated or something happens to one of you.

11. Now you may think that money belts designed for traveling are your best option however not only do they look super dorky but they also scream ‘tourist’. Try to blend in with the locals wherever you’re traveling by wearing your normal day to day clothing and just be smart about how you wear it.

12. For instance some jackets have secret hidden pockets and if you absolutely must some money belts can be easily hidden underneath clothing layers.

13.   If you are carrying a purse or wallet avoid keeping it in the front pocket of your bag, or in your back pocket of your pants – it can easily be snatched from these places.

14.   If you are carrying a handbag, keep the flap of the bag against your body and sling the strap across your body rather than just over one shoulder.

15.   Protect ALL of your devices with passwords – if your phone, laptop or tablet gets stolen while you’re travelling, thieves can access your financial details through apps and emails, and get access to your bank account and card information really bloody easily.

16. Familiarise yourself with the local currency beforehand so that you’re not fiddling with money unnecessarily, drawing attention to yourself and making you a target.


A short ‘n’ sweet tipping guide

Tipping is standard practice for goods and services in many countries like the US, Canada, Mexico and South Africa while in other places like the UK, Vietnam, France and Italy do practise tipping but only in certain situations.

Often the trickiest part of tipping is knowing how much to leave. This varies across different services and countries so we’ve put together a quick rule of thumb guide for the USA/Canada, the UK, France and Italy….

Quick tip: try to break up your larger notes when you arrive so you have smaller change ready for tips.

16. USA/Canada -

The percentage of the tip you leave varies according to the service received. Canada has adopted much of the same practice as the USA, but just make sure you are tipping in Canadian dollars and not in USA dollars - the locals will appreciate it! Work towards 20% tip at a restaurant; 15-20% for a taxi ride and $1 per drink at a bar in the local US or Canadian dollars.

17. The UK -

The Brits perceive tipping quite differently to the Americans, and while tipping is common in some places, in others it can be considered quite rude. If you went to a fancy restaurant, then yes, a tip would be expected, but it probably wouldn't be more than 10%.

18. France

The French typically only tip what they deem as worthy service, so there is no real standard when it comes to tipping. In a restaurant you will usually find a service charge "compris", which means it is included in the bill!
Taxi drivers are not usually tipped, but you can round your fare up to the nearest euro as a small gesture, and at a bar, tips are not expected at all.

19. Italy

After a meal in Italy, you may typically leave a few Euros on the table for the wait staff, but it really wouldn't be more than 10% of the bill. But, before you do that, just check your bill to make sure you don't already have a "coperto" or cover charge added on, because this is basically your tip already included.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea how to prepare you for next overseas tour.

Travel Money NZ are the FXperts and are always on hand to help you with any of your travel money needs – you just need to visit your nearest store for information on your foreign currency options, international money transfers and more! 


This post originally appeared on Flight Centre Austtralia. This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs.  You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.  While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you.  We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog
^The prevailing exchange rate is locked in for the initial load value only. Subsequent card reloads will be processed at the then prevailing exchange rate on the day of the reload transaction.