NEW YORK (MainStreet) - People go on vacation to escape the worries and stresses of daily life. But the pleasures of winding down on a sunny beach or exploring the hidden treasures of some ancient city can quickly give way to the worries of finding the best exchange rate.
Part of the hidden costs of travel is the exchange rates and fees you pay every time you change money or use your credit card abroad. There should be no need to let bad rates affect your plans.
Thankfully, MainStreet has compiled some tips from travel experts on how to beat exchange rates and keep some more dough in your pocket, which means more cocktails by the pool.
Start at Home
Jason Clampet, a senior online editor at Frommers travel guides, says that, “You should never assume that it’s easy to get cash when you arrive.” He recommends that travelers have some local currency with them on hand, at least enough to get them from the airport to the hotel.
Of course, it also depends on where you’re going. If your destination is in western Europe, it is more likely that you can use credit cards regularly whereas in southeast Asia and the Caribbean, for example, paper money is essential.
Clampet says that if you are going to a place that relies on cash then you might want to consider having enough to cover a few days of expenses.
Use an ATM
The kiosks that you see at airports and popular tourist spots may look convenient with their board of numbers and flags in front, but nine times out of 10 they offer the worst rates in the city, says Amelie Hurst, a spokesperson for TripAdvisor.
They are just part of a retail business, explains Ed Perkins, a contributing editor at SmarterTravel magazine. “Retail charges [from exchange booths] often border on deceptions in the way that they present their rates,” Perkins says. “They pile on some fees.”
Often these extra fees include agents’ commissions, and they vary just like the prices at any other retail business. Plus they are rarely regulated by the local government. Always ask for the exchange rate and commission that may be tacked on before making your transaction.