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#TravelDestination : What You Need To Know About Currency Exchange by Lateisha Rae Howe

Not every currency is created equal and in fact some countries may want you to change your currency before you reach their country.

Let me tell you about how I messed up in Tunisia. One summer day I was heading on my way froliking along as I passed through immigration. “The currency exchange counter is over that way”-some human said. La la la, I skip my way over only to be stopped and told, “We don’t take Korean Won.”

“Excuse me sir, this is a currency exchange bank place, you take currency.”

“No. Only USD, Pounds, Euros, Yen…sorry. NEXT!”

My heart stopped in my chest, I had taken out a whole bunch of cash and drained my bank account before leaving South Korea. They didn’t take Korean Won because it’s not a major currency! Personally I felt the Korean Won was a very steady currency, however Tunisia didn’t feel that way. Luckily I had some money on my other debit card, my emergency funds, and would have to run up my emergency funds for that one month trip in Tunisia.

Which leads me to my next advice: Sometimes it’s just better to use an ATM in some countries. Sure you are going to pay some fees, but I can count on all ten fingers and toes, how many times I got ripped off in the airport for exchanging currency. San Juan International airport in Costa Rica basically took 50 USD as a fee for a cash exchange-forgiving myself on that rookie mistake did not come easy. The airport is a lawless place. Or the time I went to Moalboal, Philippines and had to bribe some random currency exchange place that was basically a one man tin building in the middle of nowhere street, to take my money and give me Philipine Pesos-I should have just used my debit card. Do note...atms don't always exist in certain countries, outside of big cities

Now remember when you do get into a different country, please use your google to look up the differences in currency. What I mean by that is, I spent 70 dollars in one night, in Osaka, Japan. 70 USD = around 7,600 yen. Okay so how did this happen? Well I was coming from South Korea, where I had spent many months with Korean Won. 1 USD =1,000 won. So you see I was just playing with all these ‘thousands’ in Korea because they were basically 1 US dollar. Japan’s equivalent to 1 dollar is in a coin! I failed to use google and recognize this difference. What did I spend my 70 dollars on? I don’t know I think a whole bunch of Japanese Ramen.

Be smart, research the currency of the country you are traveling too.

Here’s what to google: Enter (your countries currency to the country you are traveling too)

For example:Hey google, 80 US Dollars Equals 2,252.86 New Taiwan Dollar?

Look at pictures and get familiar with the currency.

Research if the country is cashless or takes only cash! Some countries have businesses that take only cash, not cards.

Oh and PS. before leaving a country, check to see if it's a closed currency. Which basically means if you are on your way home from Tunisia and realized you have a whole bunch of cash-best of luck finding someone under the table to exchange it for you. You technically can’t cash this currency outside of the country. It’s illegal to take closed currencies outside of the country.

Goodluck on your travels, you are bound to make some mistakes when handling different currencies-but you don’t have to make all of them-I’ve made enough mistakes so you don’t have too.

Have a travel story you’d like to share? Send it to us via email at 👓 #ApplyYourMindEverywhere

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