Foreign Currency – Hints for Travelling Abroad

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How much foreign currency do you need to take on holiday? You want to take enough to cover all your expenses, but changes in exchange rates mean that you might not want to bring a lot of currency back to the UK. Planning ahead means you can order the right amount of currency.

Assessing your Foreign Currency Needs

It is really hard to correctly judge how much money you will need when you are going to be away. There is an old cliché that says when packing lay out all your clothes and the money you intend to take, then take half the clothes and twice the money. These days it is not actually that important to correctly guess your money requirements as with online banking and a prepaid card you can transfer money around from anywhere in the world and still get the better exchange rates associated with the pre paid card and avoid the commission of having to change money or using your credit or debit card.

It also doesn’t help of you have not been to a destination before. People may say a destination is cheap but ‘cheap’ is a relative term. Below we have put a table with the twenty more popular currencies ordered through Compare Holiday Money and the average value of those orders. This at least gives you an idea of the amount of cash currency that other people are taking. These figures represent the orders between June 2011 and June 2012.

Euros  £       849.14 Swiss Francs  £    899.00
US Dollars  £    1,038.80 Mexican Peso  £    791.46
Turkish Lira  £       716.49 Japanese Yen  £    874.52
Australian Dollars  £    1,130.68 Bulgarian Lev  £    679.97
Canadian Dollars  £       986.54 Czech Koruna  £    658.89
Thai Baht  £       755.60 Hong Kong Dollars  £    756.15
South African Rand  £       938.56 Singapore Dollars  £    662.52
New Zealand Dollar  £       938.56 Polish Zloty  £    678.70
UAE Dirham  £       840.01 Hungarian Forint  £    626.80
Croatian Kuna  £       604.53 Norwegian Krone  £    611.66



If you’re a beach lover, or you like to spend your time sunning next to the pool, you can keep your spending low. On the other hand, if you love museums, theme parks and other attractions, you need to budget for entry fees. You can check out the price of most things online before you leave, so that you know how much currency will cover the costs. These entries fees are often published online and sites such as groupon may be useful in bringing these costs down.

Many tour and excursion operators particularly in the Middle East will not accept credit cards when booking. You will need cash for these types of transactions.

Returning with currency

Depending on whether you are returning with currency on your pre paid card or with it in cash you have three options. You can keep it, convert it back into pounds or donate it to charity.

With left over cash, if you are not intending to return to the same destination again soon you are probably best to use a buyback service to turn your currency back into Pounds Sterling. We constantly monitor the buy back rates and adjust our buy back service accordingly. Last year AceFX offered the best online service but this year Covent Garden FX are offering the best all round service. You can find our buy back service here.

If you have money left on your prepaid card you should check our detailed comparison page to make sure you are aware of any fees. Some cards have annual and monthly fees. These can eat away at your balance even if you are not using your card until all your money is gone. If there are any charges then you want to get all the money off your card and the best way is to do that is to simply withdraw the money at a cash point.

Finally if you have left over cash and you don’t or cannot convert it back into sterling then you can donate it to charity either at the airport or at your high street bank who often have collection boxes on the counter.

Another useful resource for estimating your holiday costs is that gives the costs of all sorts of typical expenses from a can of coke to a meal for two in almost every country in the world.

If you know of any other resources that will help others budget they spending then please comment below.


Posted by Peter Rudin-Burgess

Peter Rudin-Burgess

Peter is one of the founding partners for both Compare Holiday Money and Currency Buy Back. He regularly blogs on financial matters and writes content for a number of blogs in the travel industry.


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