While traveling abroad, nothing drives me more crazy than not knowing how much things equal to in my home currency, US dollars. I’m one of those people who tries to understand exactly how much something is so that I can start to understand if things in the place I am visiting are generally more or less expensive than back at home.
Some currencies, like the South African Rand or UAE Dirham always cause me problems because they aren’t usually relatable to the USD by a whole number. So instead of 4 foreign currency equals 1 USD, these two currencies are 3.6 dirham to the dollar and 12.68 rand to the dollar….not easy to do quick math for me in a foreign country, especially if haggling and jet lag is involved.
Luckily, with smartphones being literally attached to our hands, embarrassing math in foreign locations doesn’t have to be done in your (or my) head. One of the first apps I downloaded when I first got a smartphone was the XE Currency Converter. I could load up my app homepage with the currencies that I would be regularly converting to and then was ready to do conversions quickly, and accurately, on the fly.
There are tons of conversion webpages and apps out there. I have grown use to and comfortable with XE, but you may find another one that you find more user friendly. Here’s the deal – before you travel, take a few minutes to play around with some and see which you prefer. Install the app onto your phone before you travel so that you’re not fiddling with the app store when you’re super jet lagged, at the cash register trying to figure out if you’re being taken to the cleaners, and pawing through your wallet for currency notes and coins you aren’t use to.
Here’s a few you can try:
Oh, and while we’re chatting money – you’re best exchange rate will be out of an ATM when you arrive in country and NOT at a currency transfer desk or bank. No harm to get a small sum transferred so you have some cash right away when you arrive, but using the ATM will get you the best rate and, depending on your bank, no currency conversion fees. Chat with your bank before you travel to understand what fees you may have and ensure that your ATM/debit card will work while abroad. Generally speaking, as long as your bank knows you’ll be traveling, they’ll enable your ATM/debit card to be used without issue overseas.