So I am all booked for my travels on the 11th August. I am just wondering what would be the best way to get the money for my travels? Should I get each currency before I leave, or as I go?
My first point of call is Singapore, I am there from 12th August until the 16th September (with some time planned in Kuala Lumpur). Would I be best getting it now (if so, where is best to get it from, I have seen xe.com offers pretty good rates? or would I be better off with a high street travel agent etc?) or when I arrive? Also, how much would you recommend I take for this part of my journey? I am planning to stay in hostels and basically as cheap as possible for everything, so do not wish to cut too much into my budget for the whole trip.
Any advice would be great as this is my first time doing anything like the tour I have planned so I don't really know where to begin...
Couple of things to consider here - do you want to be travelling around with loads of different currencies to look after? If you don't mind doing that then changing before you go is fine (esp if you have a good currency exchange place - like Royal Mail and M&S who offer excellent service and rates). However if you change to all the currencies you need you will probably find you just have to go and change some of them as funds run down at one destiantion or another. That can be a pain and also costly.
Alternatively you could minimise the hassle and perhaps look at a pre-pay credit card (I think Mastercard have started doing one) for a portion of your funds and carry a bit less cash about the place. I don't know the details of the card but if you found they were favourable for cash withdrawal you'd be better off using that method and exchanging on arrival in each destination.
The other thing to remember is people will say that the airports have the worst exchange rates - this isn't always the case. Its quite destination specific. Perhaps do a bit of research into each airport and see what they say about their currency exchanges in advance so you know if its worth waiting til you are 'in town' at each place.
If you choose to carry lots of cash remember to declare it if its over the allowable limit at the airport and don't carry all of it with you all the time - especially not in a wallet you intend to whip out to pay for items. Pickpockets are pretty good at spotting someone flashing cash and you seriously don't want to find all your dosh gone in a foreign country! If you do carry it on your person get a body wallet/saftey wallet and don't dip into/ show you are wearing it at all while you are wandering around. Take your days spending money out before you head out so if you do get pick pocketed you wont have lost everything. Sombre advice that you hopefully wont need of course but good to have it all the same.
Forget exchanging cash in advance for (almost) all destinations. Get an ATM Card with no foreign transaction fees. Simple and hassle free with good exchange rates.
Thanks for the replies, very helpful.
@ Cara: You raise some good points, and I will definitely look into a prepay card, to be honest I hadn't even thought of things like that as I've always paid for pretty much everything with cash, and the rest of your info is very helpful. Thanks for the advice.
@ Terry: Sounds good to me, thanks for the advice.
I'd also have a look into having a credit card that has no commission or transaction fees. We will be taking a Post Office credit card that we only really use abroad. You get a great rate of exchange and pay no fees. As long as you pay the balance at the end of every month it should be the easiest way to fund most things. You can withdraw money from an ATM but you would pay interest on this straightaway, so only worth doing if you've 'pre-loaded' the card with money before you go.