You're all packed and ready to head off on your fabulous vacation abroad. You've planned everything down to the last detail, and you can't wait to have some great adventures and bring home some cute souvenirs for your loved ones. But you're going to need money for those souvenirs, and probably for those adventures too, and most foreign countries don't accept the American dollar. Here are three important tips for exchanging currency abroad so that you can get the money you need without too much hassle.
Wait Until You Reach Your Destination
I know that for my first trip to Italy, I was chomping at the bit to exchange my dollars for euros. I wanted to have a wallet full of European money as soon as I landed in Europe, but this isn't the way to go. According to expert travelers, it is best to wait until you arrive in your destination country to exchange currency because exchange providers in the United States tend to have a much worse exchange rate. I would also advise against rushing to the first currency exchange kiosk you see in the airport as well, because these businesses thrive on taking advantage of over-excited tourists and will also most likely have a bad exchange rate.
You Don't Have to Exchange Currency at a Bank
I have traveled abroad several times now, and in my experience, I have found that by far and away the best (and most convenient) way to exchange currency is to simply use an ATM in your destination country. You can go to a bank and make an exchange with cash, but you will lose a portion of the money in the exchange, and it can sometimes be inconvenient to find a bank that is open during your travels. By using an ATM to withdraw money in the local currency, there are still most likely going to be some fees (make absolutely sure that you check your bank's policy on foreign transaction fees before you go abroad so you know what to expect), but you are more in control of the transaction, and there are ATMs on every corner. Plus it is just really, really simple: just put in your card, select the amount of euros or other currency you want, and hit "withdraw."
Consolidate Your Exchanges
The best tip for exchanging currency is to try to make as few exchanges as possible by consolidating your transactions. Since there is usually a bank fee or related costs on every transaction, it is best to just make one big transaction instead of a bunch of little ones, so you only get charged those extra fees once. According to currency authorities like the XE Corporation, some foreign exchange providers might either waive their commission fee or give you a better rate if you make an exchange that is over a certain amount. The best thing you can do is look into this before your trip if you can, and try to plan out your expenses ahead of time so you can take out all or most of the money you will need in one withdrawal to avoid paying extra fees.