Traveling to another country is always an adventure, but the preparation, unknown cultures, language, and monetary systems can be daunting. By planning ahead and familiarizing yourself with the economics and how money operates in a foreign society, you can relieve a lot a stress during your vacation and enjoy each and every moment a little more.
The most essential task for any trip domestic or international is planning ahead. Create a budget for yourself and have an outline of what you want to experience and what you want to spend. Make sure you prioritize what’s most and least important to you. If you’re there for the adventure, set aside more money for fun and spend less on lodging and food. If having a super extravagant place to sleep and stay is a priority to you, prepare your budget and activities accordingly.
This may seem obvious, but book your hotel before you arrive. Take the time to even check AirBnB, they typically have more private and unique homes for a lower price, but with fewer amenities.
Find a Trustworthy Bank
If you’re traveling to South East Asia for an extended amount of time, it’s important to research and find a reliable bank that you can trust. Thailand has the most developed economy in all of South East Asia so your safest bet is find a bank in Hua Hin, Thailand. The two most popular banks for tourists in Thailand are Kasikorn Bank and Bangkok Bank. The biggest perk of these banks is that they both have a U.S. based bank location in New York City. If you deposit money into an account in New York City, the bank transfers the currency so you can use it when you are in South East Asia.
This goes right back to planning ahead. If you’re New York City-based, save yourself the inconvenience and deposit your vacation savings into your account at one of these banks before the trip. Bangkok Bank will even let you open your savings account without a Thailand business permit. There is a small transfer fee to change the currency’s, but it’s still significantly smaller than it would be at any ATM once you get there.
An ATM Card is the most convenient way to spend your money in Southeast Asia but can also be the riskiest and the most expensive. It’s basically like a debit card that you load up with a certain amount of money, to use overseas.
Before you do anything make sure your ATM Card has the Maestro, Cirrus, or Plus symbol, so you know it’s usable overseas. Research who to purchase your card from as companies will have different currency transfer rates.
If thinking about the transfer of currency is something you want to avoid as much as possible, ATM Cards are perfect for you but keep in mind it comes at a price and not everywhere will accept them, or be a safe place to use an ATM card.
Once you arrive in Southeast Asia, exchange what cash you have at an exchange booth near you. Check a few a of them out because some will have higher fees. Keep in mind that although cash is the easiest way to carry money since you don’t need an I.D., that it is the riskiest since it’s not replaceable and some country’s currencies aren’t usable throughout all of all of South East Asia.
Also, make sure that when you are exchanging your cash you are counting it by hand first and calculating what you should get back after the fees and transfer so you aren’t as likely to get scammed.
Traveler’s checks aren’t a very popular option anymore, but they are a good resource to have just in case. The perk to traveler’s check is that money can be replaced if it is lost or stolen. There are fees to both purchase and cash them, but they make for a good safety net in case you lose your cash or it gets stolen, or if something happens to your ATM card.
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