Traveling of almost any sort is exciting and a little nerve-wracking. There is so much to think of, especially for those traveling in groups such as families, or those making their first ‘serious’ trip such as gap-year students. With passports to organize, flights to co-ordinate, insurance to book… it’s small wonder that sometimes details get overlooked.
One detail that is important to sort out, however, is cash. Or more precisely, how the travelers involved are going to manage finances during their trip. Running out of money on a short vacation is one thing, but finding oneself penniless while traveling for an extended period, and possibly in a remote area, can be disastrous. It is crucial that travelers plan their financial management before setting off.
Everybody should take some cash on their trip, if only enough to tide them over until they find an ATM. However, too much cash can be a big mistake – it is irreplaceable if stolen or lost. Families traveling together will ultimately need far more money than would be safe to carry in cash, and in fact almost all travelers will need to find additional ways of taking money abroad with them.
There are several ways of doing this, but many have charges attached. Many travelers take a credit card and this is a good idea, even if only as a ‘back up’ in case of need. However, some banks do add charges for transactions made abroad, so using their credit cards can be pricey if it becomes a habit.
Some banks now issue pre-paid debit cards, which can be very helpful. They are ideal for those with little money-management experience, such as gap-year students. Pre-paid cards are effectively debit cards, although they are frequently referred to as ‘pre-paid credit cards’. The card is pre-loaded with a set amount before departure and spent as required during the trip. Any money remaining on the card when the traveler returns, can be refunded or used later (depending on the issuer’s terms). The only real drawback is that some banks only issue these cards in widely-used currencies, such as dollars and euros.
It is still possible to buy good old-fashioned travelers’ checks, but it can be difficult to get them cashed outside large cities or towns, so often a debit card is a good idea (with the caveat that it is worth shopping around for banks that are not going to add a lot of extra charges).
Sometimes, of course, disaster strikes and a traveler needs cash quickly. At such times a family member or friend may ‘wire’ money to them via a service such as Trans-Fast. How long does it take to transfer money using a Trans-Fast money transfer? That will depend on various elements, such as the type of account held by the person making the transfer and the way that they money will be delivered (e.g. cash pick-up, doorstep delivery or bank deposit) but it is generally pretty fast, sometimes a matter of minutes. If the traveler (or their family) anticipates a need for this, it might be helpful to set up an account with the money transfer service before departure.