Hey Skint pals,
Remember that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie dated a guy who was adamant that he’d never ever leave Manhattan – not even to go on holiday? Manhattan’s got everything, he reasoned – why leave it to go somewhere worse?
Even the SATC girls can’t be parted from the Big Apple for long – after a few days holiday they’re always desperate to hot-foot it back home. Whilst a readiness to embrace new places is one of the hallmarks of the adventurous traveller, I realised on my recent camping holiday that there are all sorts of other behaviours that reveal our personalities when we go abroad.
How we deal with our money is one of them. Do you travel light and put everything on your credit card whilst away? Or do you stock up on all the currency you’ll need before you go and keep it safe in your money belt throughout the holiday? Some folks, like me, travel with a tiny bit of emergency currency – enough for a taxi from the airport to destination – and withdraw the rest from the ATM when they get to the other side.
There is another option, but it’s one I hadn’t thought of in years. Remember travellers cheques? How they were billed as a secure way to access money whilst abroad? Back in the day they were all the rage, and you might remember that, till last year, I still had a couple of ancient ones lurking under the mattress. But I didn’t think people used them much now - till one of my fellow campers came a cropper whilst we were in France this year.
He and his family were in trouble because they’d brought all of their holiday spending mony in travellers cheques. They had come away with very little hard cash and no credit card, relying on travellers cheques to see them through. Trouble was, when they got to France, they couldn’t cash them anywhere. We weren’t far from a large town, Royan, but nowhere would take the blasted things.
And so the poor guy had to embark on a 250 mile round trip to Bordeaux. He had thought travellers cheques the safest way to stash the family cash as they travelled through airports etc – and who’s to say he’s wrong? But when it came to accessing the money that was locked away in them, they turned out not to be as user-friendly as he’d hoped.
It got me thinking about my own attitude to travel money. As I said, I tend to travel with very little and have always trusted that there would be an ATM at the airport on arrival. And I have never been let down yet. BUT – is my behaviour foolish? It would only take a broken or empty ATM for me to come a cropper. Sometimes, when I’ve gone to more exotic places I haven’t taken any local currency at all, since I’d have had to pre-order it.
When the folks at Lloyds TSB International got in touch with me recently to talk about accessing cash whilst abroad, it rang a bell with me. And because I like to mess around sometimes I decided not just to look at the different ways that people get their hands on their cash whilst they’re on holiday, but which option each of the Sex and the City girls would favour. So, here’s my thinking on what the different methods of accessing holiday cash says about our personalities:
When it comes to holiday cash, which SATC girl are you ?
- Travellers cheques = ultra-cautious. I bet SATC’s Charlotte would go for this option. Remember how she went to Mexico and refused to eat any local food for a fortnight?
- Carrying currency = impatient. Miranda would carry all her currency onto the plane with her. She wouldn’t want to wait in line for an exchange or ATM when she got there. She’d be racing out in front, hailing the first taxi and halfway to the hotel before the rest of us had even zipped away our passports.
- ATM-only = foolhardy. The person most likely to rely on ATMs only is Carrie Bradshaw. Never the world’s greatest forward planner; remember how when her laptop crashed and burned she’d never even heard the term ‘backing up’?
- Offshore bank account = entrepreneur. This one screams Samantha Jones to me. She’d have researched her own offshore bank account and got it all set up before she got to her destination – and probably have bagged the airport’s lucrative PR account too.
So, which type of traveller are you? Do you identify with one of the SATC girls in particular or do you prefer to spread your bets and go for a mix of holiday cash options when abroad? What are your tips for carrying and accessing your money when you’re not on home turf? I’d love to know.