I spend a lot of time in Thailand, Bali, Laos and Cambodia. I always use my debit card to obtain enough cash for a few days. Many of the locals only take cash such as in the markets. Restaurants - cash, taxis-cash. I only actually use my debit card to pay for a hotel, all the rest of the time I go to an atm and take out enough cash that I think I will use in the next 3-5 days. All the atm's charge a fee for a non-bank (their bank) transaction. It is usually about $4-5 USD, but my bank reimburses me for it so it isn't an issue. I would make sure you have a chip card. If one atm won't take it, try another. Make sure your bank knows you are out of the country, which country you will be in, when. Even notifying my bank, I have still had them block my card with suspected fraud and had to call them. I ended up using SKYPE to reach them, it wasn't easy!
You don't mention what countries you are going to. Some places are easier to use atm's than others. 10 months ago
My dad, a 64 years young adventurer, travelled a lot in South-East Asia and in many countries around the wold where you need both cash and to protect you against high risks of theft.
Don't put your head in the sand : in some countries, what you have on you (even if you consider yourself broke to Occidental standards) can be worth *over one full year of salary*... so keep in mind that 75% of the people in the world have *10 US dollars or less* (!) in their bank account - if they actually had any bank account... ;)
Here a couple invaluable tips I got from my dad :
- 1. You need cash, no questions asked... But... Do NOT put it all in one place.
- 2. US dollars will be accepted by almost anyone in just about every developing countries out there; *however, keeping in mind the extremely high value of the US bill (up to 10 000 times it's equivalent in Kenya if I remember correctly :O), be careful here! Do NOT let people know what you're carrying US dollars in any way, shape, or form, unless it's an urgency.
I repeat : Only use this money in case of *emergency* when you didn't had the time/cannot transfer US to a local currency and cannot use your credit card.
- 3. Put a 20 US buck between your phone and it's case, one in each of your shoes, and a last one in a tiny waterproof container that you carry around your neck at all times.
-4. Put what you need to "get through" in local currencies in case you get stuck (lost bus or whatever problem) in 3 places. Example : behind you shoes' soles (yes I'm serious, like a drug dealer), hidden in a pocket between in the top of your hat (cowboy hat perk ;) and just in a pocket.
This is for everyday use (what's in your pocket like you would carry it normally) and the hidden $$$ are for problems that *doesn't require US dollars to solve*. US dollars = *last resort*. People who you think are amazing gentle - and they do - might decide to rob *on the spot* for US dollars. Seriously. We do NOT realize the value of our money. 60 CAD $ can buy a shiny new motorboat in India (I know this from experience)...!!! Constantly remind you that US dollars = untraceable diamonds in certain countries. 10 months ago
As said above: bring both, especially more than one bank’s or credit’s cards for your money access.
My bank card stopped working due to a bank issue and they had to FedEx me a new one when I was in Pokhara, Nepal and it was good I had other cards I could pull more cash out with while waiting for arrival.
Take out enough cash for about a week, IMO, and only carry small amounts visible in your wallet when you open it - both to not flash large cash but also to not be rude as the Oh So Rich person over others. Put a bit extra in a back fold or another compartment and then spread the rest around. A bit more on yourself and then some in a safe or safe deposit box or a sturdy locker, whichever sort of places you’ll be in and have.
Same with cards. Carry one or two in a safe location where you won’t drop them or be pickpocketed/stolen from and then some in a safe spot in your staying place.
Pay your lodging on arrival. If all goes wrong you’ll have that roof over your head, at least, til things are worked out with the bank.
Personally I wouldn’t carry dollars as I found most places weren’t that welcoming to them and most ATMs won’t give them so you’ll have to do exchanging to get them over again while there if you do use any you take. I went with the local currency o the country I was in or a fair amount for where I was about to head next, then did the same thing the next place - some for there and then some for the next place when I was getting ready to jump or unsure when it would be yet. 9 months ago