"Making sure I don't run out of money on the road is my
best bet—but if I do at least I can get some cash wired."
A money transfer overseas - having someone back home wire you money - would not be my first choice when on the the road.
But if all else fails and you have friends or family back home - or if you've left some money behind, a this kind of transfer operation can help get you out of immediate trouble.
There are several ways you can get a money transfer overseas.
For a cheap overseas wire money transfer, you can use companies that specialize in them, like Western Union, Travelex or MoneyGram International.
This process is simple: someone visits the money transfer office in your home country, hands over an amount of money, and all you have to do is pick it up wherever you are in the world.
There is a fee, which is paid by the sender, and the funds arrive almost instantaneously. The down side is that you pick up your money in cash. You'll be walking out of a money office looking wealthier than when you walked in, and you'll be vulnerable until you can do something with that money. This is best used for small amounts of money, such as in an emergency or when your credit card isn't available.
A common way of sending money abroad is by bank transfer. This is usually expensive and slow, and should only be used if you have a valid reason - like sending money directly into someone else's bank account, for example. The charges are high, and in certain cases the banking transfer can take several weeks. If the money is meant for you, you'll need a bank account at the receiving end. If you're settled in a country for a while, this won't be a problem. But if you're just passing through, this is probably not the right option for you.
Most Post Offices offer a money order service. This is similar to the cash transfer, but uses the Post Office system rather than a private transfer company - so the money goes by mail rather than through the Internet. You'll have to wait for the money order to arrive but once it's there you can cash it right away.