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Travel Tips

Currency as you Travel

England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales are all on the Pound Sterling.  Ireland uses the Euro.  Each Scandinavian country, as well as New Zealand and Australia, has their own separate currency.

Tips Regarding Currency:

1. If possible, two weeks before you leave, go to your local bank. Ask them to take money out of your account and exchange it for foreign currency.  The currency you’ll want is the money of the country where you’re landing.  They’ll most likely charge you a small fee for this, but it feels secure to land with local currency in your pocket or purse.

2. Airports will exchange currency, but their rates are extraordinarily high. Only do this if you’re in a real pinch.  When you leave, if you have time at the airport, you might want to exchange any foreign currency you have into American dollars.  You can do it at home, but your bank will charge you.  And, really, who wants to do errands after they get home?

3. Call your credit card companies before you leave home! It’s terrible to be shut off from funds because you didn’t inform them you would be travelling out of the country. Just as in the States, most places accept Visa and MasterCard.  You can also use your debit card.

4. There is an exception to #3. (There is always some exception, isn’t there?)  In small towns, villages, and cafes they might only accept cash.  If in doubt, ask first.  It’s most likely that you’d be near an ATM—some small towns even have mobile ones.  Still?  Have cash, just in case.

5. Don’t bother with traveler’s checks. Hardly anyone uses them or accepts them any longer.

6. When you use a credit card, the funds can sometimes be held for 90 days. Because the rates fluctuate daily, the merchant might wait until the exchange is most favorable for them and put through the charge at that time.

7. As at home, when you use a debit card, the funds come out of your account immediately. For both credit card and debit card use, there will be a fee.

8. You can go inside any foreign bank and ask them to exchange money or charge your credit card in exchange for cash. As in big cities in the States, the hours are generally 9 – 5 on weekdays and they’re often open a few hours on Saturdays.  The smaller the town, the fewer the hours and days the bank will be open. 

9. Your debit card is a blessing for a handcraft you absolutely must have or a dining splurge. Don’t forget your PIN.  (This sounds obvious, but we have forgotten ours more than once.)

Most of all, this is an adventure.  This is a vacation.  This is memory time!  Don’t scrimp.  If something wonderful comes along, passing it up is what you’ll remember, too.  Enjoy every minute.