England never seemed like an affordable place to visit; it had always been a destination to save for my retirement years. Despite the cheap flights bound for London, I knew that once I was there, accommodation, food and especially the National Rail service would eat up my travel fund. Then Brexit happened and the pound dropped dramatically. If I was going to visit England at any time in my life, it had to be now. Though the US dollar was still weaker than the Great British Pound, it was still closer than ever before.
Check Exchange Rates
There are various things to consider before hopping on a plane to anywhere. Before booking, you must plan for sights to see, places to stay and activities to do; all of which are deciding factors for where to go. One thing that is rarely considered until the trip is already set in stone is the value of a country’s currency. It isn’t until you are standing at the counter with the bank teller asking to withdraw 1000 Euros that you realize it actually costs you an extra $139. At least this was the case exactly one year ago. Today, the exchange rate is an astounding 1.06, which means that same amount is only worth $1,064.95 US. Much less of a difference! As you can see, it is important to pay attention to exchange rates before choosing a destination.
If you can be flexible with your destination, you can save a significant amount on your vacation. Since the sweet spot of booking flights is between three months and six weeks in advance, you can easily pay attention to currency conversions and where the dollar can stretch the most. For instance, instead of choosing the Swiss Alps for your ski holiday, head on up to the Canadian Rockies because the Canadian dollar is notably lower than the US dollar at the moment. By visiting countries where the currency conversion works in your favor, you can get the most out of your vacation. You can afford to stay at higher end hotels, eat out at fancier restaurants and experience all a country has to offer because you know what you are paying is actually costing you less in your own currency.
Once you book a trip based on an advantageous exchange rate, you must be aware of the best ways to exchange cash before or during the trip. Though it is convenient to visit your local bank before departing, this isn’t necessarily ideal. Banks have hidden fees that are included with the rate you are initially quoted. This means you are not getting the best bang for your buck. However, if you are wanting a bit of spare cash before arriving at your dream destination, it is best to exchange at the bank rather than at the bureaus in the airport where the rates are notoriously poor.
Use A Credit Card With No Exchange Fees
To avoid fees completely, your best option is to use a credit card with no foreign exchange fees for major purchases, such as hotel bills and restaurant tabs. If you do not have a credit card that waives these fees, then consider withdrawing cash with your debit card once you arrive. Local ATMs will give you the spot rate plus the foreign transaction fee at around 2.5%. Your home bank may also charge a service fee, but the overall cost is still one of the cheapest ways to exchange money. Take out the maximum amount and enjoy your vacation knowing you are not paying any more than you have to!