Wondering what form of money you should travel with? Not sure about how much money to bring along? Scared that you will run out of money while still travelling? Are you uncertain about the exchange rates?
These are some of the common concerns which people encounter whilst travelling. Travelling to a foreign country can be somewhat intimidating. Firstly, there might be a difference in cultures, people, and possibly the language too. Secondly, you have allocated and used a large portion of your savings for your vacation, so you want it to be perfect. The very last thing that you need to be worrying about is MONEY (which can sometimes be the biggest worry of all – if not done correctly).
When travelling to a SADC country, I have a few recommendations regarding certain concerns about money.
Let’s begin with what I do not recommend:
- Travelers Cheques – these have become very outdated and it is becoming rarer to find establishments that do accommodate this facility. The safety element about these cheques do not seem to outweigh the amount of administration, costs and valuable holiday time that they consume.
- ONLY Cash – As convenient as the cash option is – it is not safe. Travelling with only cash is not recommended, because it is at times bulky, and really makes you an automatic target for theft. Although cash is definitely convenient, I wouldn’t advise anyone to travel with that as their ONLY form of money – if stolen it cannot be recovered. Also, the unease of carrying large amounts of cash around is enough to make you not enjoy such a stunning part of the world whilst travelling.
Now onto my recommendations on what I think are the best ways to deal with money in SADC countries:
- Credit Cards – These are convenient, effortless and safe. Most establishments will allow you to swipe or settle your bill or account by swiping any VISA or MasterCard (American Express, AmEx and Diner’c Club cards are not always accepted), in their establishment. Making use of credit cards are effortless, as you do not need to apply for a new card just for your travels – all of your details and passwords remain unchanged. Credit cards are safe, in the sense that if they are lost, it’s a simple call to your bank to cancel the card. They are also a great option, as they can be used at ATM’s to withdraw some cash. P.S. you should give your bank a call before you travel to make sure that there are no security “blocks” on your card(s).
- Travel Cards – Many banks like and offer this service. It is basically the modern travelers cheque. These are normally pre-loaded with an amount that gets exchanged before you leave your home country. Even though there are quite a few bank costs linked to these cards, they serve as a “safer” version of your credit card, as they are not directly linked to any of your bank accounts.
- Exchanging Money – The best options in my opinion are to either withdraw money with your bank card from an ATM (the conversion will already be done for you into the currency of the country that you are in), or to exchange money in the towns (the exchange centers at airports and stations etc). The second option can carry quite high charges, so you will not always be getting the best rate.
So whether it’s your own credit card, a traveler’s card or some cash that you are planning to travel with, the next big question will be – am I getting a good rate? Well I can conclude by providing a very handy tool that will give you a great indication of what you should be receiving in terms of exchange. This tool is updated frequently and is easy to use on almost any electronic device and platform (internet required). Just visit http://www.xe.com/ and insert the currencies in the currency converter and you are a click away from your answer.
When you are on holiday you should be relaxing, exploring, experiencing new things, making memories and having fun – now you know what to do so that these money matters do not hold you back or divert you from what really matters!
(written by Davina Duarte)