Traveling to another country often takes planning, and that typically extends to money. Some countries accept U.S. dollars, UK pounds, or euros, but often this is only in the areas known for tourism. It is usually best to carry some cash that is specific to the country you are visiting. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to exchange currency, both near your home and once you arrive at your destination. The most popular places to exchange currency include banks, airports, and travel agencies.
One of the first steps before going on a trip is to check the exchange rate before you even leave. Some countries might be much less expensive than others compared to what you are used to. In fact, many people allow a favorable exchange rate to help them decide where they will go on vacation. If your mind is already made up on where to go, it is nice to have an idea of how much money you will likely be spending compared to home. There are several online calculators and charts that show the most current exchange rates, and the newspaper typically also features them in the business section.
Once you know the currency exchange rate, you can further your preparation by having at least some cash in hand before traveling. Many banks and travel agencies alike exchange currency for numerous countries. It is usually advised to head to such organizations to exchange some currency, at least enough to pay for transport to your hotel when you arrive at your destination. Even if you plan to fly during the day when the country's airport exchange desks and banks will be open, unexpected delays are frequent, and may cause you to land without the ability to exchange currency for the night.
On the other hand, it is often advised that travelers wait until they arrive at their destination to exchange most of their currency. This is because the country you are traveling to is likely to have the best rate on their legal tender. Therefore, plan to exchange only a little currency in your home country, but save the major currency exchange for your arrival. If you will be carrying much cash in U.S. currency, try to have the newest, cleanest bills you can find, as some countries will charge extra for exchanging older or ratty bills.
Many people dislike carrying a lot of cash no matter where they are. Fortunately, credit and debit cards now make it possible to forego carrying tons of foreign currency. Instead, travelers can use their credit card to make purchases, or their debit card to withdraw cash at ATMs whenever they need it. Finding a major bank to withdraw from once you arrive in the country is recommended. You should also find out the fees charged by the bank, as the ability to exchange currency with as few fees as possible is often the goal of any traveler. Be aware that most credit card companies do charge a foreign transaction fee for using your card abroad.