need advice, i am form the UK and going to oz in few months and then onto nz, south east asia.
How did you experienced travellers pay for things out there? did you just withdraw money when and where you needed to? i understand there are some bank accounts or building societies that don't charge withdrawal fees abroad, as most banks charge about £2 everytime u take money out!
Or is travellers cheques an option? i have never used these before so am unfamiliar with the concept.
I believe Nationwide bank in the UK have an account which allows free withdrawals from overseas. I always use ATMs when travelling (I haven't used travellers cheques for years) but I try and draw out fairly large sums which isn't ideal, as my NZ bank absolutely stings me for charges. You could also get some currency changed before you leave the UK.
In most of South East Asia you shouldn't have a problem finding ATMs. When I was in Laos the only ones were in the capital Vientiane; I'm not sure if this is still the case.
yer nationwide used to offer that service, not sue if they do anymore. i will have a look into it though as i think this is the best and safest option!
I don't think Nationwide is free any more - I think they charge at least 2%. You might want to have a look at the HBOS Clarity card. Even though this is a credit card, the exchange rate they use is the wholesale rate so you will end up saving money over an ATM card that takes a couple of percent commission on the rate - assuming you pay off the interest charges ASAP. I haven't used one of these cards, but they have had good write-ups on money sites and other travel forums.
I think ATMs are in most of the major towns in Laos now.
I wouldn't bother with travellers cheques as the exchange rate you get is usually not very competitive.
Whatever card(s) you end up taking, also take a couple of hundred US$ in cash for situations where you can't get to an ATM and have to use a moneychanger.