We would all love to travel overseas at some time. I guess we have all longed to visit exotic and magical places and finally, after making our decision to take our trip, have to face up to how we finance it, both the actual cost and how much we need to take for spending.
After deciding how long we are going to be away from home, working out how many clothes we are taking on the trip, how we are going to get there and all the usual things we have to do, the final thing we have to sort out is the currency.
A decision at this point usually entails how much money we are going to take with us and how we are going to take it. By that I mean do we make a decision to take it all in cash, all in travellers cheques or a bit of both. I guess most of us would opt for the final choice.
So how to we go about exchanging currency. The travellers' cheque part is fairly straightforward. Most banks carry a stock of various denominations of the major currencies, US dollars, Sterling, etc. As most people are aware, these are definitely the most secure form of currency exchange. By doing all the form-filling, making sure you sign each cheque in front of the teller, keeping them in a safe place, making a note of the numbers, you are pretty sure that if you lose them you can, no matter where you are in the world, quite quickly get your currency (cheques) replaced within a very short space of time.
Now let's talk about the hard cash. Banks will also be able to exchange your local currency for the currency of the country you are visiting. Be aware though, this doesn't always happen as smoothly as you might expect. Sure, it's easy to get hold of US dollars, Sterling, Euros, Australian dollars, but some other currency isn't easily available from some banks. I refer specifically to the currency of China - RMB (China Yuan Renminbi). I am not sure why but it is extremely difficult to get hold of RMB from banks. You would normally have to exchange your hard-earned home currency at exchange stations at travel agents and the like.
This, you may ask, might seem OK, but there is one major and very important drawback. The fee that is charged. It doesn't reflect in the way you look at your final bill, but the rate of exchange for your currency is significantly lower than if you purchased the currency through standard financial institutions. On the day I exchanged my currency - Australian dollars - the standard exchange rate was 5.92 RMB for one Australian dollar. I managed to achieve 5.31 RMB. See what I mean!
Finally, whatever currency exchange format is your choice, there are practical things that you need to take into consideration. Firstly, travellers' cheques are the safest form of exchange, while currency is convenient but less secure and, if lost, there is no replacement.
Whatever your decision, currency exchange is one option you cannot avoid. Happy holiday!!