Save money and travel more by exchanging currency in advance of your trip. The best exchange rates are currency sides of major world currencies. Today a US dollar can provide 14.1 pesos to 15.4 pesos in Mexico, 9.8 pesos to 10.2 pesos in the Caribbean, 6.3 pesos to 7.9 pesos in Australia and 2.8 pesos to 3.1 pesos in Europe. The convenience of traveling in a major world currency can give you many more advantages than in your native currency. The following are some ways to exchange foreign currencies in advance:
- At home: Go to a bank, required by most countries. Buy yourself enough pesos to tide you for a couple of days. They’re exchangeable either at the bank or at the travel site. The best are those in banks, they’ll exchange fine at even the local currency exchange counters in 3 – 5 day periods, but best exchange rates occur when you exchange at the banks. Of course in the end you may have to pay the commission fee, about $5 per $1,000.
- A money exchange at a hotel: The kind of exchange that’ll work for you will depend on the company you have to exchange with. Do a little research, find out if they’re in the chain and what language they speak. Plan the exchange as far in advance as you can, since with the time of the year, exchange fees will be higher in advance.
*Authorized money exchange: If you have dollars that you’d like to exchange at any of the far-flung islands, you can always do that via licensed money-exchange kiosks (casa dinamics) in your hotel. Make sure to carry your passport and authorized debit card with you when you visit the kiosk; if you can’t get your dollars out of your bank, this is where you will draw the money yourself. Remember to bring your ID card with you in case the kiosk doesn’t have the exchange rate you need.
When you exchange currency, pay in advance. Using your savings, you can get a good exchange rate in the short term, but the rate will be antiquated soon as it drops 50 basis points, the dollar almost triple, and in a matter of hours, the value will have gone up to even more dollars. Additionally, hotels have 50 basis points exchange offices which also charge commissions, so it’s cut out of their pocket. If you have to change more than $100, it may be best to use a bank. You may be able to use traveler’s checks and it’s always best to check to make sure the vendors accept them or not. One last tip: buy antiques and gold when you can, don’t wait until you’re back home to get rid of them. We bought a Chinese guitar for much less than we would have paid if we had bought him at home, and Elvis bought an expensive, rare, attempt at silver foxes and ailment jewelry that ended up being a total rip-off. We felt comfortable telling the salesman we knew where the pieces actually were, and he had no problem selling a couple of them to a German collector for $2000. You’re not going to make a lot of money, but it was well worth the 40 odd minutes of pain felt!
- use your hotel’s safe deposit box
Always. Put your passport, plane tickets (pokerlounge99), and any other valuables in your hotel safe deposit box. Should something happen to you, your safe deposit box is there to help you. You may not be able to get back home immediately after you’ve fallen ill, but if you have needed your passport and it’s not at the hotel anymore, it’s there.
- get an international driver’s permit
Generally you need a driver’s permit, whether or not you drive. If you are going to drive, get a separate permit. If you are going to travel in and out of the country, have your itinerary clear so authorities know where you are going and when you need to be there. We got our permits at the same time we bought our plane tickets. It was quick and easy.
- use a reputable travel agent
One of the best is the ability to talk to people who have actually traveled to the places you are looking to visit. They have actually been there and taken care of themselves. The reason most people avoid this is because it’s a pain to meet with a bunch of different people to discuss personal recommendations, but it’s actually none of that.
the internet is still your best option when it comes to planning your trip. You can find websites that host your itinerary for many different countries, and you can chat with other people who have actually been to the places you want to see.