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Money when travelling

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:50 am
by Dave&Bev
Hi,, I realize that this is primarily a British website but maybe someone can help us
We are two older Americans planning a bucket list around the world back packing adventure.
We plan to start in Malaysia, work our way up through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and into China and Mongolia. from there into Kazakhstan ( not sure yet via Russia or China ) and then on through the Stans. and across the Caspian to Azerbaijan into Turkey and back across Europe to Holland and then fly back to the U.S. from there.
There are dozens of questions about visas and letter of invitations etc. ( especially from Russia which seems to be very tourist unfriendly with their almost impossible demands for exact dates etc. ) and we will ask those in other forums but for the moment our biggest concern is how to pay for everything as we go. Seems like most of the railway stations... even the big ones, don't accept credit cards, and buses and accommodation ( except maybe some of the hostels ) and food would be the same ... cash only.
As you can imagine a trip like this is going to be very expensive, even on a backpacking basis and our question is this .... how have others handled the problem of having to carry large amounts of cash in multiple currencies and avoid the problems of potential robberies and rip-offs when exchanging currencies.
We will use credit cards whenever possible but preliminary checking doesn't seem to look good.
Many thanks for any suggestions.
Dave

Re: Money when travelling

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:51 am
by bwv812
With a few exceptions, most countries have ATMs that accept international cards on the Cirrus and/or Maestro systems. Withdraw the equivalent of a few hundred dollars every week or however frequently required, and you'll be fine.

Re: Money when travelling

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:11 am
by steven
Hi Dave & Bev,

I second what bwv812 said. You should also be able to take out money with your credit cards in many places. For all the details, see https://caravanistan.com/money and click through to the country chapters for detailed info.

just to set the record straight, this is not a British website. It is a global website, we have visitors from all over the world and nobody who works on it speaks English as a first language (but we like British comedy so prefer British spelling if we don't mess it up).

Re: Money when travelling

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:59 pm
by CallumT
For what it's worth my partner and I have just been through the first part of your planned trip from Malaysia to Mongolia. We have a credit card which offers no conversion fees AND no ATM withdrawal fees if we have its balance in credit.

Withdrawing money on the go has worked fine, the only inconvenience is the small fees ($2-$6) charged by the ATMs themselves in some countries.

For us at least this was better than carrying a huge stack of USD or Euros and converting them to each currency. It also means we get official exchange rates rather than money changer rates. The card is with our bank in Australia called ANZ though, but maybe there is something similar in the US.

Re: Money when travelling

Posted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:57 pm
by adi
But don't forget to keep plenty of of cash (I'd say 500, couple of large ones and plenty of small 5+10). Good old Yankee Dollars, preferably the new series. There will be the odd tight spot / remote bloody shithole with no bank, likely in a storm/flood/coup d'etat on a Friday afternoon in a Muslim country -- somebody in the bazaar will always change.

Re: Money when travelling

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 8:12 am
by Jimmy
You need to have some cash with you all the time (and by 'some' I mean around $1000) and use ATMs whenever possible. Keep your money divided - some in your pockets, some in wallets, purses etc., some in backpacks between the clothes. It'll reduce the risk and everything will be fine.

Re: Money when travelling

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:46 am
by mazeno
> and by 'some' I mean around $1000
that's what i call "mr wallet".
this is not switzerland nor japan - central asia is not so expensive so you don't have to change (to make growing) the local prices by dealing with such big money (big for the locals). e.g. 2500-3000usd is enough for 2-3 months journey for 2 persons from europe around the stans for a couple travelling by car, including fuel.
kyrgyz, tajik and uzbek people don't operate with such money, even people in remote kazakhstan (which is - per capita - much more rich than kgz and tjk) - yes, of course, some local travel agencies operate, but not ordinary people. changing the status quo will not help them. if you pay for a lepioshka 3 dollars, a poor kyrgyz will have to pay the same in nearest future.
so try to interact to local people with small amounts rather than to agencies/hotels with big amounts.

Re: Money when travelling

Posted: Tue Mar 13, 2018 11:33 am
by steven
mazeno wrote:> and by 'some' I mean around $1000
that's what i call "mr wallet".
this is not switzerland nor japan - central asia is not so expensive so you don't have to change (to make growing) the local prices by dealing with such big money (big for the locals). e.g. 2500-3000usd is enough for 2-3 months journey for 2 persons from europe around the stans for a couple travelling by car, including fuel.
kyrgyz, tajik and uzbek people don't operate with such money, even people in remote kazakhstan (which is - per capita - much more rich than kgz and tjk) - yes, of course, some local travel agencies operate, but not ordinary people. changing the status quo will not help them. if you pay for a lepioshka 3 dollars, a poor kyrgyz will have to pay the same in nearest future.
so try to interact to local people with small amounts rather than to agencies/hotels with big amounts.
Disagree here. If you are taking a tour and you did not have the ability to pay in advance, or you like to stay in nice hotels, 1000$ is not going to last you 1 month.

Empathy and openmindedness is prized at Caravanistan. Different people have different travel styles, and assuming that one's own ideas and lifestyle is 'the right way' is unworthy of a real traveler.

Locking this topic before it gets out of hand again.