Mistake Monday: Wrong Currency

I know it’s Tuesday, but I haven’t written in a while about some of the crazy things that have happened to myself or to my friends. I fully intended to post this yesterday, but I fell asleep after work. So it’s really a mistake Tuesday.

The Story

It was just at the beginning of the year when I was still working at Disneyland when one of my good friends and co-worker decided that she was going to spend their tax return on a quick trip to Ireland, Scotland and England. We laughed because my co-worker, who we’ll call Angela, had already almost maxed out her vacation time and was planning to do everything in 4 days. She was always going to Disney World in Orlando or to Aulani in Hawaii. 

She went online, booked the cheapest flights she could find and some hostels. Angela knew she would only be able to spend a day or two in each country so she went to exchange money ahead of time.I told Angela she could use her credit card abroad, but she was confident she would only spend the cash she carried.  She did decide to take her debit card as a back up. Even though she traveled a lot, Angela had never been abroad.

Fast forward to a week later. Poor Angela’s flight had been delayed several hours due to weather. I waited with her at the airport until we knew for sure that her flight was going to be leaving. She would be arriving in Belfast, Ireland about 6 hours later than scheduled. When her plane arrived in Ireland, Angela was starving. There weren’t many food options to choose from. Only 1 coffee shop was open and everything else was closed due to the late hour. Not a problem! Angela thought she would grab a snack and then head to her hostel.

I forget exactly what she ordered, but when Angela went to pay for the meal, but her money was refused by the cashier. Angela was really confused. She had gone to the exchange place and was told Ireland accepted Euros. Angela didn’t realize that Northern Ireland was part of the UK and accepted British pounds.

Thinking she would be able to exchange her Euros for British pounds later on, Angela only had 2 10 pound notes on her. She went to use those, but those notes were also refused! The 10 pound note Angela had been taken out of circulation and replaced by a new one. Her money was essentially worthless.

Angela was horrified. Due to the mix up with her money, she wasn’t even able to get to her hostel that evening. Her credit card was not accepted by the taxi service at the airport in Belfast (she didn’t call her bank to let them know she was traveling).  She would have to wait until morning when the currency exchange place at the airport opened. The only ATM available was inside the secure area. 

Eventually Angela was able to make it to her hostel and have a crazy trip, but she was mortified by her mistakes. I’m not going to lie, we had a good laugh over it at work.What are the odds she would have the wrong currency,expired currency and a credit card that wouldn’t work.

How to Avoid These Mistakes

This seems like common sense, but first of all google the country you are traveling to to see what currency they use. I don’t trust anybody fully and would rather make sure I have all the facts straight before traveling. Next, I would say don’t relie on only cash!

Call your bank or credit card issuer before you travel to make sure your card will work abroad and won’t be flagged for fraudulent use. It may be more difficult to find a way to call from abroad than you think. Take more than 1 card with you. I like to have 2 credit cards and a debit card for cash withdrawals. When you use your credit card also be aware of foreign transaction fees. You don’t want those to pile up. Look for cards that don’t have any.

Lastly, I don’t normally do this, but if you do exchange money, do a quick online search to make sure they are still in circulation. After this, you never know. Angela was able to successfully find the Bank of Ireland and exchange her useless notes for notes still circulation.

Hope this helps you and you won’t make the same mistakes as Angela! Until next time, happy travels!