Friday, 18 January 2013

On the Ground--Show Them the Jacksons

Show Them the Jacksons—People fuss a lot about travelers’ checks and credit cards when traveling.  In many places, travelers’ checks simply aren’t accepted or are accepted with great hassle.  Credit cards or ATM cards typically carry a fee for withdrawals.  Some banks and credit card companies offer an international travel card with no transaction charge.  Against conventional wisdom, I feel it is important to carry a healthy amount of cash—preferably in $20 denominations.  Cash is still king in most places, and the U.S. greenback still has considerable clout around the world.  I advise a mix of credit and cash. 

In countries that don’t accept U.S. currency, I recommend exchanging money at a local bank if possible, followed by a local exchange shop with good exchange rates.  I have found the hotel and airport exchange shops to have the highest exchange rates, but the airport shops are safe and handy in a hurry.  Shop around for the best rates, but don’t let the search take time away from your vacation!
Use pickpocket-proof clothing and bags.  And don’t overlook the small safe now common in most hotel rooms.  Finally, while it may be cheaper or more fun to use the subway (such as Tokyo's elaborate subway system), a cab may be safer.

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