What’s up Guys!
Whether you are planning your trip or already moving around the world, I want to share some important money saving tips with my fellow world travelers. Hopefully this post will help you save some cash while traveling and spare you some headaches as well.
Money Tips While Traveling
I am located in South East Asia, but this first tip applies to any developing country. Always have small bills! This has been a source of so much aggravation while traveling around South East Asia. Many businesses do not have change for larger bills and it becomes an issue. It happens all the damn time.
Here’s an example. I recently took a taxi ride in Bangkok. The meter read 50 Baht. I went to pay the driver with a 100 Baht bill. ($3 USD) He looked at me dumbfounded and said “I HAVE NO MONEY!” He even opened his wallet to show me it was empty. WTF! You don’t have 50 baht??!
Was this a scam? Maybe… Probably. Could it have been avoided? YES! If I had small bills I could have just paid him exact change and jumped out of the taxi. Instead I sat there for a moment, cursed under my breath, then gave him the 100 and said “keep it.”
I joked about this issue in my post about living in Thailand vs Cambodia. At most restaurants in Cambodia, if you pay with a $20 bill they will stop and say, “OHH you don’t have small??! Every employee will have to dig into their wallets to scrounge up your $15.00 in change.
One time I went outside to buy fruit in Bangkok. Keep in mind this is the same guy I see every day next to my apartment… I only had big bills and I was 5 baht short for what I was buying. He wanted me to go to 7/11 for change. I said “don’t worry I will give you 5 baht later or tomorrow.” He said, “No, go to 7/11 now.”
Really? You can’t let me slide on the 5 baht until later? This is your business. Have some god damn change for your customers! He’s unprepared but now it’s my problem.
What to do about this
Break big bills whenever possible. In Thailand I use 7/11s. 7/11s are usually well stocked with cash. Use those 1,000 and 500 baht notes whenever you buy something. Always hang onto your 20 baht notes as long as possible. This is your taxi, motorbike, street food money.
When I used the ATM in Cambodia, I was horrified to see it spit out a crisp $100 bill. Fuck! I thought I would be stuck with that the whole trip. Very few businesses have enough money to break a bill that large. I finally found a nice restaurant that would do it. Before I sat down to eat I had to ask, “I only have a $100 bill, is that OK?” They had to check but then said yes it’s OK.
Just be strategic and hang onto those small bills as long as possible.
Avoid ATM Fees While Traveling
My next tip is about avoiding ATM fees. This is extremely important for long term travelers. Every time you use an ATM machine it charges a small fee of a few dollars. Trust me this adds up! It can be hundreds of dollars at the end of a year.
What I use is a Schwab investor checking account. It’s free to open the account and they rebate all ATM fees regardless of where you are traveling! Each month your account will be reimbursed any ATM fees you have been charged. This is the best solution I have found.
If you are eligible, I highly recommend opening a Schwab account if you are doing a lot of traveling. All those ATM fees add up to some serious beer money.
Get a FREE Plane Ticket To Thailand
Next up let’s talk about credit card rewards. I never recommend going into debt, but if you are strategic you can get some awesome travel rewards with certain credit cards. What I use is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
I used this credit card back home in America for every day purchases. Gas, groceries, clothes, etc. I always paid it off every month so I never paid interest. At the end of one year I earned enough points for a free flight to Thailand. This flight usually costs about $1,000!
If you are eligible, I highly recommend using a great travel card like the one offered by Capital One. Don’t go into debt to earn travel points… That is counter productive. But if you are going to spend money anyways, you might as well use the card and rack up some points! Even a few nights for free in a nice hotel is an excellent reward. Just be sure to pay off the card monthly so you don’t get whacked by the high interest rates.
Hope this helps guys. Avoid the headaches and unnecessary fees when traveling. Cheers!