Planning a Travel Budget and the Currency Exchange

When is the best time to exchange currency for a trip? Planning a vacation to South Africa is always an exciting experience. Finding the right hotel and good restaurants, safari excursions, as well as things to see and do can be a full time job. Everyone is concerned about trip expenses especially if you don’t understand your host country’s currency value. There’s nothing more frustrating than putting a budget together and realizing that all the figures are wrong because you didn’t use the correct exchange value. Exchanging money with an airport currency kiosk upon arrival in Johannesburg can be a financial nightmare, especially if the currency market is shifting due to recent economic changes. A 1400 point change in the U.S Dollar and the South African Rand could result in an additional $140 for every $1000 you exchange, which is a budget buster by anyone’s standards. The best time to exchange currency is in the planning stage of the trip. Exchanging small amounts at different times while you plan will offset any sudden changes in the currency market and will give you an exact currency exchange cost to use in your budget. Averaging your exchanges makes your travel budget more accurate and it also reduces stress.

Where should I exchange my money? Banks are usually the first place people go to exchange money. Most people visit a bank the day before a trip or stop by an airport terminal bank when they arrive at their destination. Banks add a fee to every currency exchange and they may only post one or two rates a day, so they may not be real time rates. Other people use credit cards to exchange currency and the credit card companies love you for it. They use their own rate of exchange which includes a profit, plus they add a surcharge on every travel purchase, which means you don’t know how much you’re spending until you receive your statement. Credit cards and a travel budget are like oil and water. Currency exchange merchants at airports and other locations usually add a hidden fee to every exchange, so you don’t receive the full value of your exchange. The best place to exchange money is through a professional currency trader who follows the market hourly. A currency trader can help you pick the right time to average your exchanges using real time exchange rates. Averaging with a reliable currency trader eliminates surcharges, unnecessary profits and bogus exchange rates, so your travel budget is more effective.

Other travel points Most countries have a limit on the amount of cash you can carry. A reliable trader or an internet search can help you avoid a disaster at a customs checkpoint if officials find more cash than the law allows. Your money could be confiscated. Always carry your cash in a secure place on the body that’s out of sight. A money belt or hidden zipper pockets are great alternatives for a wallet or a purse. They should only be used to carry small amounts for minor purchases.

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