RTG Travel Tool: Money, money, money!
When you’re booking your hotel, car rental or just understanding the overall prices to expect, it’s really helpful to have a simple, current currency converter. Many countries easily accept U.S. Dollars and credit cards for most major purchases, but for smaller bed & breakfasts, cab rides, services and tips many require or prefer their local currency. Also, use of ATMs (for cash withdrawal at local banks) is not always dependable.
A little advance research will help you know their preferences and not be stuck. We often get foreign currency from our local Wells Fargo before leaving. Usually just enough for tips and cab rides until we have access to a reasonable local exchange rate.
A few times we’ve used a Travelex card which lets you put whatever value you want on it, in the local currency. You use it anywhere that accepts a debit MasterCard or at ATMs. When you return home you cash in whatever you didn’t spend. They charge a higher exchange rate than your bank’s ATM would, but it’s nice if you don’t have a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees and you don’t want to carry too much local cash.
Also, read up on the etiquette of offering tips / gratuities for services where you’re traveling. In some countries it is expected and critical to the server’s income, yet in other countries a tip is built in or would be an insult. There are lots of articles to help with this.