How To Get The Most Of Your Money When Traveling

When traveling to another country, there are several key ways to get the most out of your money. Among the most effective methods is timing your travel right: taking advantage of a favorable exchange rate can considerably enhance your buying power. In the real world, though, a plethora of arrangements to be made and tickets to be bought may inhibit the luxury of planning travel months in advance. But even if you’re planning your travel just a month or even a week in advance, there are still ways to be smart about your money. To minimize losses when converting to another currency, finding a good place to change your money is key.

Long-Term Planning

Plan to travel when your money is worth relatively more in the country you are visiting. Every country has a fluctuating exchange rate so that there is balance in the supply and demand of currency. Timing your travel correctly, therefore, can make a significant difference in the amount of spending you do.

A clear example of a fluctuating market is the euro to US dollar exchange rate. In year 2002, each euro was worth $.83. Now, in July of 2005, each euro is worth an upwards of $1.2059, meaning the euro increased more than 31% in three years. This favorable rate of exchange for the euros makes traveling to the US a much more favorable deal in 2005.

Two ways to see if traveling to another country is a good deal, then, are to look at historical data and anticipate the future. You can easily check the historical rate of a currency pair by visiting a foreign exchange news site and pulling up a yearly chart. A good website for this is DailyFX (www.dailyfx.com). Having an inkling about the future direction of the exchange rate may prove more challenging, but it is not impossible. DailyFX has fundamental and technical news reports to guide you in this respect.

Short-Term Planning

When travel plans are made in the short term, the key to maximizing buying power is finding the right place to change your money – that is, getting the best rate for the time that you are traveling. It is essential to do research in advance, namely, checking the rates at domestic banks, credit cards, foreign banks, and ATMs.

At Home

At home, you can contact your local bank teller and ask about changing your money to a foreign currency. Experts suggest to only change enough to cover travel costs until you are settled at your destination though, as the costs of exchanging money at home can be prohibitive. Another service available is an online money exchange, which will take your funds and send the converted money to your home. The risk posed in this service is the safety of your funds during transportation.

In most instances, asking your credit card representative about exchanging money is the best approach to getting a great exchange rate. Credit card companies have access to better rates than individuals and often deal in more than one currency. One precaution to take, nonetheless, is to check if your home currency is losing value, since not all transactions are converted instantly. Be cautious of the possibility of receiving a lower than expected rate several days later.

Abroad

While exchanging money after arriving to a foreign country is the most convenient option, the obvious risk is the lack of options. The quoted exchange rate given may be determined purely by supply and demand, meaning that you will end up with a price close to what is being quoted in the foreign exchange market globally. The government of the country you are visiting sets the currency exchange rate, which must be offered by anyone who is changing money; and a mark-up in the rate is inevitable. An easy way to see if changing money in a foreign bank is a favorable decision is to compare currency rates beforehand in a local newspaper.

ATMs of a foreign country may also be a convenient way to obtain local currency at a reasonable rate. Keep in mind, however, that your withdrawal may be subject to a fee from both the foreign and your local bank. Another precaution to take is to tell your bank of your travels, as they often freeze cards if out of the ordinary transactions take place. As an illustration, if you make withdrawals in four different countries over the course of a week, your bank may see this as a red flag and for security, immediately lock all transaction of funds.

Beautiful Vancouver, City of the Sea & Mountains

As one flies over Vancouver during the decent into the Canadian city’s airport, the surrounding beautiful natural scenery is already noticed with mountains on one side and the sea on the other. Once inside the baggage claim area of the international airport, visitors are greeted with large Pacific Northwest Coast Indian art carvings. This adds to the overall flavor of nature and the environment that makes Vancouver so different from other major cities. When driving along Granville Street towards the city center, one can’t help but notice that the trees and hedges in the residential areas are so much larger and taller than the ones we normally see elsewhere. One of the
locals claims that the superior growth of the area’s plant life is due to the huge amount of rainfall. Vancouver is close to both the ocean and the mountain range so lots of rain is expected. In fact, the rain here can actually be a problem as grey skies, especially during the winter months, are one of the few negatives of living in Vancouver. Fortunately, there is very little snowfall within the city so for Vancouverites, it is a trade off of some sort to have to deal with rain rather than shoveling snow during their winters. As for tourists, the best time to visit Vancouver is the least wet season which is during the summer months. I’ve been told by another local that September is one of the best months to visit. When the sun is shining in Vancouver with both the ocean and mountains as the background, it really doesn’t get any better.

Stanley Park on the west side of downtown Vancouver is the most visited attraction. A drive around the island will reveal great photo spots of both the city and the ocean. Vancouver’s Aquarium is also on site in Stanley Park as well as a magnificent collection of Pacific Northwest Coastal Indian art totem poles. Of course, one can always marvel at the tall trees which seem to touch the skies here. The Lion’s Gate Suspension Bridge connects Stanley Park with North Vancouver on the other side of the harbor. On the north side is Grouse Mountain, the area’s closest ski resort to the city that has turned into an all year round attraction. During the non-winter months, one can take the gondola up Grouse mountain for some wonderful hiking and views of the Vancouver skyline. The Capilano Suspension Bridge which visitors walk across to a nice nature area is another must see nearby. One of the cuisine highlights in the British Columbia province is the salmon and one of the best restaurants to sample it is the Salmon House in adjacent West Vancouver. Dinner there with the Pacific Northwest Coast Indian art décor and spectacular nighttime views of the city is one of the best ways to finish off a day of sightseeing.

Back in downtown Vancouver, the Gastown district is one of the top tourist areas for boutique shopping and souvenirs. Don’t miss the steam clock that rings on the hour. Vancouver has one of the largest Asian communities in North America so the Chinatown nearby as expected has some of the best dim sum luncheons outside of Hong Kong. Further boutique shopping can be found in the Yaletown and Granville Island districts.

If time permits, one of the recommended day trips to do out of Vancouver is to drive up the Sea & Sky highway to Whistler, one of North America’s largest ski resorts. During the off ski season, Whistler is all season resort with many activities such as hiking, biking, festivities and shopping in the village. A ride up the gondola here will enable visitors to get a bird’s eye view of the majestic Canadian Rockies mountain range. The drive itself to Whistler, about two and a half hours along the coastline, offers many wonderful scenic points as well.

Vancouver is a great city to visit as one can really see how a major city can still be in very scenic surroundings. For those coming to Vancouver as the departure port of a cruise to either Hawaii or Alaska, it is highly recommended to allocate at least a full day before or after the cruise to see what the city has to offer. As I mentioned before, on a sunny day with the sea on one side and the mountains on the other, Vancouver is really hard to beat.

Website Claims Romania To Be One Of The Most Beautiful European Travel Destinations

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