My pet peeve is being stuck with foreign currency that I can’t exchange back to dollars. The good news is that this hardly ever happens to me now because I make sure I use every last cent, céntimos, or pence prior to departure, and I recommend you do the same thing! Here are the two unofficial travel rules I follow when doing so:
1) Avoid money exchange counters to change foreign currency back to dollars. Not only are you screwing yourself on the exchange rate, but exchange bureaus generally don’t allow you to exchange coins. Which leads me to rule #2…
2) Make sure to use up all the foreign currency. You can leave the foreign currency as tips for the hotel, taxi, restaurant, or even donate it at the airport if they have donation bins. While I’m a big proponent of donating to charity, not all airports have the collection bins so it’s a bit of a toss up.
That said, my favorite way to use all the currency is to find a vendor that lets me pay part of the balance in cash and then the remainder with my credit card. Hotels are super good about this so this is always my preferred route. If, however, I need some cash until I get to the airport, I’ve also found that airport gift shops or restaurants also let me charge the rest on my credit card. It’s such an easy way to use all the foreign bills and coins, and my recommendation is for fellow travelers to do the same!
(photo credit: Bekathwia)