Subject: Re: Euro vs Dollar and first nights
Hi Ziners, This is an interesting thread. Deciding what currency, and how much to take with you, is almost as difficult as deciding what to pack. Despite the recent downturn in the U.S. dollar (which as Canadians we have learned is the only REAL currency), we have found that taking $100 in small denominations ($5-$10 for Europe and $1.00 bills for Asia) is always wise. If, at the end of your holiday, you find yourself with exrra dollars on hand, use them for the next trip. If you have change, give it to the airline staff who collect it for third world countries.

We also never leave home without at least $100 in the local currency. This is especially important if you arrive in a country before daybreak or late at night and you need cash for a cab or bus to get you to your lodgings (or in our case to a central point in the town or city to find a hotel). You may pay a fee to the agent for the luxury of buying the currency, but considering the thousands of dollars you are paying for airfare, it is a small investment.

While we all search out bargains on airfare and hotels on our first night in a foreign location, it is important to remember that on arrival, often suffering from jet lag, the traveller should be prepared for surprises. If you have ready cash in the local currency, you will not be faced with searching your pockets for some way to pay the taxi or bus driver.

Based on our travel experiences, I would also recommend carrying a variety of bank cards for all the possibilities. For example in Thailand, we discovered that only Visa compatible cards were accepted in the bank machines.

As for using credit cards, the exchange rate is tied in to the daily currency market rate. So it will be up and down, tied to the U.S. dollar. I am amazed that travellers still buy travellers' cheques.

You pay when you buy and and you pay when you exchange. Why give American Express or Cook's your hard-earned dollars? And why spend time searching for an Amex office or standing in line at a bank when all you really want to do is spend your time visiting the sites of the country you are in?

This leads to the second part of my post. How do Ziners spend the first night of their foreign travels? Exploring? Sleeping? Eating? Unpacking? Let us know. Lucy Toronto (it's official, the groundhog has told us we have six more weeks of winter - Yuck)