Spending your vacation in a foreign country can be a wonderful thing and expose you to new experiences, new culture and fresh influences and inspirations. On the other hand, it can also present you with new problems and challenges – some accordingly return from their holiday indebted or robbed. Two of my friends have unfortunately met with the latter fate. Here are their stories – and how you can learn from them.
Story 1: Currency fluctuations
A good friend of mine, who works as a freelancer in the entertainment industry intended to visit Japan for two months to build contacts and spend some time in his favourite country. He exchanged some cash before leaving and decided to withdraw whatever else he might need from ATMs or to use his credit card. The first two weeks were wonderful and mainly spent enjoying sushi, sake and Japanese Summer nights. Then, something unforeseen happened: The Yen started rising against the British Pound and everything became exceedingly more expensive in an already exceedingly expensive country. In the end, my friend had to cancel some important business meetings and return home early, feeling depressed and disappointed.
Instead, he could have saved his holiday…
- by using twitter: twitter isn’t just an instant messaging service, but can also be used as a formidable financial news ticker. Start following leading news publication and finance resources on twitter to learn about the country you intend to visit and possible currency fluctuations. Set up some alternatives should things go wrong and start building a network of locals and friends who can help you out with advice should things go wrong.
- with a currency card: A currency card works by you loading money onto the card and then fixing the exchange rate before you leave on your vacation. This means you will be able to buy products and services at the exact same rate while you’re away. This protects you from the kind of fluctuations which can destroy your vacation.
Story #2: Theft protection
Some friends of ours went on holiday recently. They had booked a wonderful stay in a private villa on a beautiful island. They had been looking forward to the holiday for such a long time as they had been having a tough time of things. Finally the holiday had arrived and our friends arrived at their villa.The first thing they did was put their passports and money in the villa’s safe. After a swim in the private pool they decided to go for a walk down on the beach. It was a warm night and they drank chilled wine on the beach front before wandering back up to the villa. Unfortunately, when they returned, thieves had broken into their villa and literally smashed the safe out of the wall. They had taken all our friend’s money as well as their passports. Clearly the couple were devastated and had to try and salvage a terrible situation as best they could. They were penniless, as the thieves had taken all their money and had to get the embassy to ask family to send them some money to get by on.
Instead, they could have saved their holiday…
- by using twitter: twitter isn’t just a formidable financial news ticker, it is also a community of like-minded individuals willing to answer questions and provide support. Before trusting in their hotel safe, my friends could have checked with their twitter followers whether or not these kind of saves really provide meaningful theft protection. By combining the experience and know-how of millions of users, twitter can thus act as a think tank from whence to draw answers to your problems.
- by using a prepaid card for their holiday money: One of the many advantages of using a prepaid card is that the card company will replace your card and all your money immediately should it be lost or stolen. Furthermore, a prepaid card is used with a chip and PIN so only you will have access to your money.
While twitter can make you stay alert and inform you about trending financial topics, a currency card combines ease of use, safety and currency stability. My friends have all learnt their lesson and now carry currency cards with them whenever they’re abroad – make sure you do the same.
This article was written in association with Tuxedo, a leader in the field of prepaid technology and online banking solutions. Gavin Wittaker has written about digital banking, ecommerce and currency issues for the past ten years.