Do you enjoy lighting money on fire? Travelling is fun but I personally find wasting money less exciting. Every "no fee" exchange service at the airport, in your city or at your destination is ripping you off for ten cents on the dollar by charging you a consumer and not a banking rate of exchange. If you change $1000 do you want to lose out on $100? The only way to receive a bank rate is from a bank. Assuming you aren't interested in visiting blue market cash dealers in your destination, there are two good ways to change money before or after you depart.
If you don't want to risk reaching your destination without cash in hand, go to the bank at least a week before you depart. Your bank will offer you an actual rate of exchange and charge you a minimal fee, if any, saving you ten percent or better. If your bank does not have the currency you need on hand, they will order it for you and by going a week or more in advance, it will arrive on time. Of course you will be travelling with cash, but anyone reading this blog should be smart enough to carry it on their person and bring back up in the form of a widely accepted debit card and a widely accepted credit card (not sure diners club will work).
It's a very small world these days and if your debit card is issued with a Visa or Mastercard logo, there is a very high probability that you can use it in your destination, just as you would at home. It's always good to check, but I've been to four continents and cities ranging from worldly to.... other worldly and the debit card has always worked in location. Obviously check your bank's fee chart, but if you are changing any money over $50 it's likely going to save you significant cash. Our bank charges us a flat $5 fee on any international withdrawals, so we aim to just make one large withdrawal upon arrival to avoid paying the fee multiple times, while saving ten cents on the dollar. The larger the transaction the more the savings and peace of mind.
Bringing elevated travel at minimal expense is about making intelligent decisions in every part of the planning and travel process. If you have a choice between cash or credit, a credit card with no foreign transaction fees earning points and miles is always the best option. Do yourself and your wallet a favor.
Questions? As always, firstname.lastname@example.org