I'm not sure how best to take my money abroad, what are the easiest and safest options?
I'm travelling to Southeast Asia in January for 8 weeks and was wondering how best to take my money with me. I'm considering using a Visa travel money card for part of my funds. Has anyone used one of these and is it worth it? There are charges for withdrawing money but I imagine these wont be too much more than any commission you might pay for changing up dollars or travellers cheques?
Any advice would be appreciated!
I've never heard of a Visa travel money card but I'd wonder how many ATMs in Southeast Asia would recognize it. Particularly with the recent fluctuations in dollar prices I'd avoid any additional and unnecessary transaction costs. My experience is that simple is better - carry small amounts of cash on you and make sure your regular ATM card can be used at international machines (also make sure your PIN has the proper number of digits, as some countries only permit 4 digit numbers on their ATMs).
For carrying cash you can also try splitting up the money and keeping it in different places - for example if you have $100, try carrying $30 in your backpack, $30 in your wallet and $40 in your money belt. That way if you have to hand your wallet over to a thief (or it gets snatched), you still have some extra cash left to get yourself the help you need.
Make sure you carry only the essential credit/identification cards with you and make photocopies of everything. Keep the copies in a safe place and consider leaving extra copies at home with relatives. I scanned all my stuff and e-mailed them to myself so I can access them from any internet cafe. Remember to advise the credit card companies of where you're going, and write down the emergency contact numbers in case they get lost/stolen.
Hope this helps.
That's helpful, thank you.
Apparently the Visa travel money card is accepted at any ATM where you can use normal visa cards. I was considering it as an alternative to my regular bank card as I'm scared of losing it. If you lose the visa or it gets stolen, the money you "topped up" on it is protected and it has no links to your regular bank so your identity is safe. I think I might be a bit paranoid!
Is it extreme to consider opening up a new bank account for my trrip and taking that card rather then my usual account?
If you are that concerned about losing your regular bank card you could consider just ordering a second one from your bank. Opening a "travel" bank account isn't a bad idea....but it depends on how long your trip is. If you're only gone for a few weeks my personal opinion is that it might be a bit extreme.
The Travel Money Card (available in the UK from the Post Office online, among others) sounds like a good alternative to travellers' cheques. It's a bit like a mobile phone top-up card that you pay cash into before you can use it. It's a Visa Electron so you should be able to get your cash out from most ATMs.
However, because I can never find an ATM when I need one, I prefer to take Sterling and US Dollars cash, as well as a credit card for backup. I change some cash into local currency and only keep an amount sufficient for a day's spend in my pocket. The rest goes in the hotel safe or, if I'm travelling, I put it in a flat wallet that's inconspicuously attached to my belt and fits down inside the front (yes, inside the front) of my trousers. It may not be the most comfortable solution, but a pickpocket would have to be extremely good to steal it!
I've never heard of a Visa travel money card too.