Small change - foreign currency when travelling

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Jul 31st, 2002, 12:11 PM
  #1
Be kind
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Small change - foreign currency when travelling

Just wanted to share a little tid bit and ask that you be kind.

This has happened to me a couple of times during my last trip to the region. I was asked by locals to exchange foreign coins from a country not my own. A UK pound coin here, a couple of US 25 cents pieces there. Turns out that these were given as tips or small gifts.

Money changers won't change these for them. Knowing roughly the rates for these in the local currency (how can you not miss the boards at various money changers?), I always agreed to take them for them, rounding up in their favor if need be. It's not much. I figure that the next time I transit through London, I'll dig out that coin - ditto for the States.

I was surprised when one woman told me that she had asked many tourists to change her pound coin and nobody had ever agreed to do so. It was a tip earned for laundry she had done.

So here's the "be kind" part. First, don't tip in coins from home - it turns out to be a worthless act. Second, if you're approached, consider changing the coins if you can - there's way more chance of you being able to use these coins one day.
 
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Jul 31st, 2002, 01:01 PM
  #2
kavey
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Thanks for sharing this with us. It's not something I have come across.

I found out as a young traveller (with advice from my parents who are very canny travellers) that it is often better to take dollar bills when travelling than my own currency (GBP) or local currency IF I intend to use it to tip, to buy on any black market or to buy at any local market where bartering is the norm.

Infact I went to Russia many years ago, with my dollars in my wallet. All my companions had GBP (sterling pounds). Every time my friends would negotiate the price of something in the market (a russian army coat, the stacking dolls etc) in pounds, I would ask the price for payment in dollars. The number given was the same despite the difference in value of the notes. It would cost 5 pounds or 5 dollars! I was the envy of the others for my superiour buying power!

On a more relevant note: When we went to Africa we took money for all tips in very low denomination dollar bills.

This meant we had flexibility in what tips we left, we often wanted to leave specific tips for certain members of staff at a lodge as well as a general amount for the other camp staff. We also felt confident that the tip given was in a format which could be used by the recipient.

Kind Regards
Kavey
 
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