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Money: Managing / Exchanging / Carrying Cash

The Kitty

A ‘kitty’ is an amount of money, made up from equal proportions from all parties, that is used to pay for everything that you need while you travel together. Eg accommodation or food. Read more about how to do it HERE. As a couple, we believe that you’d be crazy not to have a kitty. It also makes sense for a group of friends travelling together.

Taking Cash Out

We like to have about a weeks worth of money at one time. With this amount we don’t worry about getting low or having to find an ATM at an inconvenient time. Half of the money we take out goes into our pannier bag, and the other half into our wallet. We sometimes carry more cash in our pannier bags when we have limited access to ATMs.

We use credit cards with no transaction fees attached to get our money out of our bank account at a good rate – read more HERE.

Hiding Cash

High Crime Areas

Sometimes you will need to carry large amounts of cash (eg. in Iran). We carry a small amount of cash in our wallet and the majority in our two rear panniers because they are the hardest of the lot to take off. We feel if someone wanted to rob us, our front panniers or handlebar bag would be the most likely to go given how easy they are to take off – in dodgier countries, keep your valuables away from these bags!

More specifically, when we are in higher crime areas, we keep our cash stored in a stuff sack with our clothes. Having the cash mixed in with your clothes is great for if you’re camping or staying in dodgy hotels as it is pretty hard to find for those dishonest enough to look for it.

We hide our cash in clothing stuff sacks… shhh

We also recommend spreading your cash about your bags a bit, we leave a bit in my clothes bag, and a bit more in Kat’s.

If you are a travelling heterosexual couple, during the day it is best for the lady to carry cash on her because the assumption is often that men carry money.

Low Crime Areas

If we’re in lower crime areas, we leave our cash in our handlebar bag. We can then take it off the bike whenever we go to a supermarket, shop, restaurant etc.

Exchanging Money

We normally check out the XE currency website to determine what kind of rate we should be getting before we need to change it. Changing money on the border can be a bit shady, but sometimes it’s essential. Do your research with regards to exchange rates as the “official” exchange rate on the internet can be vastly different to the street exchange rate – we’ve experienced this in both Myanmar and Iran.

To combat this we recommend getting in contact with a local in the country you will be travelling to. Ask them what a good currency rate should be – asking Couch Surfing hosts is a great start.

More Info

For more on keeping your valuables safe, click HERE.

Have you got any other cash tips for us?

 

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