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How to Take Your Travel Money on the Road

Not in cash, please! At least not all of it...

...but you should take some travel money in cash, especially in smaller bills for immediate needs. You won't be able to pay for a local bus with a card!

As a foreign currency, it's a toss-up whether to take US dollars or Euros - while the dollar used to be king, in a number of places (Europe and Africa especially) the stronger Euro is often more popular. When it comes to taking money overseas, I always opt for a mixture of both, about US$100 and 100 Euros in small bills, nothing larger than a 10 in either currency.

Things like money conversion or currency exchange might intimidate you, but don't let them. They're simple once you understand them!

The main question from travelers seems to be: How do I carry my travel money?

There are plenty of safe ways to protect your money: just make sure you carry your cash and valuables on your body, in a travel money belt (or why not a waterproof money belt?), a neck wallet, a leg wallet or a bra purse. There really is no other way if you want to keep it safe.

In addition to cash your stash should include some travelers checks - these are slowly becoming less popular but still have important uses, especially in rural areas where bank machines may not be too common or might not work. Make sure you carry them in US dollars, still the most common currency for these.

By far the best way to carry the bulk of your travel money is on a card - an ATM card, a credit card or one of the newer cash cards or prepaid credit cards being promoted by credit card companies. You will have to pay a commission for withdrawals abroad, but then you pay a commission for travelers' cheques too.

The great advantage of a card is its flexibility. You don't need to carry lots of money, you don't need to calculate every last cent ahead of time, and best of all, you don't have to worry about currency exchange, since ATM machines will give you local currency no matter where your account is.

Test your cards at home before you leave, especially if they're new. You don't want a foreign ATM to reject your card when you need it the most.

And if this is your first trip abroad, inform your credit card company of your trip. They may find a Mongolian purchase a bit suspect and cancel your privileges.

Western Union shopEvery country has its money-changers (auntjojo via Flickr CC)

If you run out of money - cash, travelers checks and cards - there's always the money transfer overseas that friends and family back home can use to send you money wherever you are. Companies like Western Union have offices in the tiniest of places.

Always keep a bit of emergency travel money somewhere secret and separate from your money belt, possibly with the copies of your passport. If your money belt is lost or stolen, you may at least be able to get back to the capital and your embassy.

Please beware of the many travel scams that have been perfected over the years and sprung on unsuspecting backpackers - solo women who travel are definitely preferred targets. Unless you're a seasoned world traveler, you might not even see these coming. Even if you are, you may still get taken. Over the years I have managed to get my papers lifted not once, but twice, and I've fallen for a few scams along the way, fortunately not losing much in the proccess.

Avoiding scams and knowing how to carry your travel money isn't enough of course - you also need to know how much to take.

First you'll have to make sure you have enough to go in the first place - these money saving travel tips will help, as will this advice on how to travel when broke. Your next step will be to develop a travel budget - this travel advice on money will provide valuable information, as will this extensive list of resources on how to plan your travel budget. Once your travel budget is done and you're ready to hit the road, try to hang on to as much of your money as you can by following a few simple travel tips on money. Better yet, fine-tune that wonderful art of haggling for that really special thing you have to buy!

Solo travel tips for women like you - the first Tuesday of every month >>>

(and to say thank you I'll send you the 'list of 9' indispensable items I NEVER travel without!)