The amount of money you bring with you should be determined by the countries that you plan on visiting.  Different countries will allow you different ways of acquiring currency.  Here, we describe your possible modes of payment abroad:


Cash is king!  You can never go wrong with cash, especially if you’re using US dollars.  US dollars can be exchanged for nearly every currency in the world.   Some countries may even require US dollars when purchasing a visa, which means that even their local currencies are not accepted!  You always want to have a little bit stashed away, hide it somewhere on yourself.

But then the question remains…how much is too much?  That will be determined by where you’re going.  Some countries don’t have ATMs, so it can be hard to get cash if you don’t physically bring it with you.  Where as other countries have a plethora of ATMs, banks, and Western Unions to cater to your every whim.  In this case, its better not to carry too much as it makes you a target.  Plan accordingly, as this will be your best way of acquiring local currency.

TIP:  If you’re traveling in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, you will want to bring dollar bills that are in good condition and that were minted recently as many countries will view them as worthless if they are ripped up or old.

ATM/Credit Card:

In many developed countries, you should have no problem finding ATMs that accepts foreign cards.  This will allow you to with drawl funds directly from your bank account at home, pay a small service fee, and have the funds automatically converted to the local currency.   Easy-Peezy!  Credit cards should follow the same rules.  However, many developing countries don’t have the same sophisticated infrastructure so you may find yourself having to do a wire transfer or a credit card advance, both of which are more expensive.  So again, make sure you bring lots of cash if you’re venturing too far off the beatin track.

TIP:  You’ll want to alert your Bank and Credit Card company of your intent to travel.  Otherwise they will assume that your cards have been stolen and place a hold on them.  This means you’ll have no access to your money until the hold is reversed.

Travelers Checks:

You can still buy them, and in theory you can still use them pretty much anywhere but ever since this globalization thing moved into full swing, they have been slowly becoming obsolete and have been replaced by the world-wide ATM infrastructure.  In our experience they are more hassle than they’re worth and in a lot of places people prefer not to even accept them.  If you are backpacking, you’ll find that most travelers do not use them.  On the other hand, having a few on you can’t hurt.