Moolah in the cooler.
June 7, 2010 2:20 AM   Subscribe

Help us organise our money for a trip to Borneo.

We're going to Borneo for three weeks soon and we want some advice on how organise our holiday money.

We are thinking we will take some traveller's cheques as a backup, use the VISA card for big purchases (hotels, flights etc) and some cash for the rest (food, sightseeing etc).

We want to know should we take all of our cash in local currency upfront or should we keep our cash in AUD and change it into local currency as we need it or should we take a small amount at first and withdraw from ATMs as we go? We figure that we will get hit twice if we convert all of our cash into local currency now and then have to convert some of it back into AUD if we don't spend it (also security of carrying large amounts of cash around). We know there will be ATMs readily available in Borneo but we still need to check our local bank fees for international withdrawals.

What are your thoughts and experiences?
posted by micklaw to Travel & Transportation (3 answers total)
Borneo being an island containing three countries, do you mean Brunei? Your local bank fees are much more important than our thoughts and experiences. You should research the exchange rates both ways, anticipating that you won't get a great rate at the airport (bank is better). Estimate what you're comfortable bringing, then make an educated guess about the highest amount of money you're likely to be left with after your trip. Add up the money lost to unfavorable exchange rates and then compare that to the fees + exchange rates you'll incur if you withdraw money weekly, or whatever.

Personally my bank's fee for international withdrawals is $5 plus the local fee but my parents, who are better customers, get it basically for free. Even at $5 a time, it's not too bad to withdraw three times or so. It sucked the time I had to use nine currencies in 6 weeks, but if you're staying in one country you probably will end up choosing ATMs, mostly because it's impossible to anticipate how much money you'll really want to spend before you arrive.
posted by acidic at 3:25 AM on June 7, 2010

Traveller's cheques were always a nuisance, and these days are an outdated nuisance. You need to go to the bank when it is open, you need to have your passport with you, etc.

These days I use a combination of credit card and debit card - debit cards work widely in overseas ATMs as well. You do need to check the fees your bank charges - some are worse than others. It generally pays to take out a reasonable amount in one go, but split it between you, so nobody is carrying too much. I put larger expenses on the credit card, use the debit card to get cash for smaller expenses. The exchange rates on the cards are generally good, but you do pay foreign exchange fees.

It is useful to have a small stash of US dollars as these are readily exchanged (though in Asia, Australian dollars are not too bad either, but if something happens with the bank network, people will often accept US dollars).

It is also nice to arrive with a bit of local currency, so you can get a taxi, or a meal without having to find an ATM.
posted by AnnaRat at 3:43 AM on June 7, 2010

When I was in Borneo I changed all my cash into Malaysian and then used Visa where possible.
posted by fso at 4:02 AM on June 7, 2010

« Older Help me hack my wardrobe   |   Initiative to learn, but not to create Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.