This is a post in an ongoing feature on Her Packing List called “The One Little Thing“. Each week or two, I’ll be interviewing a traveling lady to find out the one little thing she just can’t travel without. This one comes to you from Josephine Beverage.
What one little thing can you not travel without?
American currency, whether $20 or $200.
Why has this one item been so important to you?
This actually happened to a Spanish friend, Miguel, I made while volunteering in the Philippines. We wrapped up our working and our group went to a distant beach town, Anda, three hours away from the nearest city with an ATM. We read in the Lonely Planet guidebook that there was no ATM, but we figured it was likely outdated. We arrived and were happy to see an ATM sign.
Days later, Miguel decides to stay there for a few more weeks while the rest of us flew back home. We then find out that the ATM was not for international cards. Back to square one. Thankfully, my friend’s father had made sure he carried around USD before he left on his Asian tour. Now, this may seem puzzling— why would a Spanish guy be carrying around American currency?
Simple: Some places around the world will accept local (Asian area) and American currency only. They may not accept Euros, as was true in this case. He easily converted the money to Philippine Pesos without having to spend a whole day to get cash from the ATM in the far off city. He stayed for 3 more weeks at the beautiful beach with that money and had probably relaxed into a happy pile of goo by the end.
How packable is it? Does it take up much room? Is it heavy?
Extremely packable. It takes up the smallest amount of space possible. There are no big amounts in coins so it’s light. Preferably keep it away from the rest of your money and cards so you can have a backup if something happens.
Why would you recommend this to your travel friends?
It comes in handy. I’ve even heard cases of people needing it to bribe officials just to get where they needed to go. This could happen anywhere in the world. American money is more universal than you may think.
Can you name one incident or situation where you were so happy to have this item with you?
Yes. I was in Anda when I had a money crisis as well. Right before we went there, I discovered there had been delays with checks clearing my bank account. I had no money to take out at the ATM. My friends offered to lend me money or I could do a cash advance on my credit card. I had a bit of money in Pesos left and hoped we would find an ATM in Anda when my money was ready. Of course, this was not to be the case.
I thankfully remembered I was carrying around USD (I am American). I resigned myself wearily to going to the currency exchange in town and dealing with the fees and bad exchange rate. Thankfully for me, my friend Amanda was willing to be a “Bank of Amanda” and exchange them for me with her own Pesos. I had only $27, but that goes very far in many Asian countries. It lasted me through the end of my trip without me having to borrow money, starve, or pay exorbitant bank fees.
How did you hear about this item?
My mom mentioned it to me as I was taking all my American money out of my wallet. I kept it in there to please her, but it turned out I’m glad I listened.
What sort of traveler is this item perfect for?
Everyone who knows the unexpected events that can happen while traveling. It is especially smart to keep in case your wallet gets stolen and you need some money to get you by.
About the Author: My name is Josephine Beverage. I am a young adult fiction writer and a super traveler. I mostly travel in Asia, but I have been to France and Canada as well. My favorite place to be is Japan.
You can read about me and see samples of my writing here: www.jennybeverage.com