Are you traveling to another country anytime soon? Are you familiar with working with foreign exchange? I probably get asked about this more than any other travel related subject. This week someone posted a terrible money exchange story on a Facebook travel group that I belong to. When they arrived in Rome the airport money exchange place told them they only had a €500 note. Take it or leave it. Unfortunately she took it. This comes with a world of trouble, so I am writing this post in the hope that I can prevent something like this happening to you.

How to manage your money while traveling overseas. Tips on working with foreign currencies, how to manage cash, debit cards and credit cards when traveling internationally. How to avoid pickpockets

This post contains affiliate links

Travel With Currency

I will come back to that story in a minute, but first I want to emphatically stress that you must always travel with some of the local currency. You cannot rely on the exchange place at the airport being open/having cash/or even that there is one at the terminal you are arriving in.

How to manage your money while traveling overseas. Tips on workign with foreign currencies, how to manage cash, debit cards and credit cards. How to avoid pickpockets

Euros in small denominations

The same goes with relying on an airport ATM machine. They might be out of cash. Chances are they are not part of a bank but instead are part of Travelex, a business that makes money on exchange rates and fees.

It can be incredibly annoying if the person you are traveling with doesn’t bring cash with them and is mooching off you until they get some – don’t be that person. Bring around $100 worth of the local currency with you at a minimum, and get your currency in small denominations, not large bills.


Use Your Coins

Outside of America most currencies use coins for low denominations. You won’t find the equivalent to $1 bills in most places, some don’t even have $5 paper money.

Use up these larger coins prior to leaving as you normally can’t exchange them back to your own currency. You don’t want to arrive home with lots of €1 and €2 coins that you can’t exchange.

Have A Conversion App On Your Phone

Download a conversion app before leaving home, and make sure you are aware of where the exchange rate is trending. Nowhere will give you the official exchange rate, but at least you will know if you are close to it or if you are about to get ripped off.

How to manage your money while traveling overseas. Tips on working with foreign currencies, how to manage cash, debit cards and credit cards when traveling internationally. How to avoid pickpockets

Pounds Sterling, British currency.

Use Your Debit Card – Wisely

On my Glam Italia Tours I advise everyone to use their debit cards in Italy to get cash. I use my debit card all over the world and have found it to be the most cost efficient and overall efficient way to get money.

Check with your bank to find out what fees they attach to each transaction. Some don’t charge any, (I have been told Schwab doesn’t, but haven’t verified it personally), some charge $3 per transaction, others charge a transaction fee of $3 to $5 and then charge a percentage of the total transaction on top of that. My Credit Union has a $3 fee but my Chase debit card has the $3 plus 2% of the total withdrawn. These fees add up fast, so do your research ahead of time, and if necessary open an account just for traveling with a new financial institution.


More Debit Card Tips

  • Only use your debit card to withdraw cash. Don’t use it to purchase items, as those fees add up fast.
  • Withdraw the maximum. Rather than withdrawing $100 per day with a $3 fee per transaction pull $300 and only pay the transaction fee once.
  • Call the number on the back of your cards and register them for going overseas. The bank will ask for the dates you will be gone and which countries you will be in. Failing to register them for international travel can result in your card being shut down the first time you use it.
  • Only ever withdraw cash from a bank ATM. Ideally only when the bank is open, and an ATM machine inside the bank. You are more vulnerable to thieves and cloning devices when you use the ATM outside the bank. Also, should the ATM machine eat your card the bank can open it and retrieve it for you if it is during bank hours.
  • Non bank ATM’s are not secure and can pretty much be guaranteed to have the worst exchange rates and additional fees.
  • Ideally use a debit card that is not attached to a bank account that your bills pull out of. Should your card get hacked or cloned while you are traveling you don’t want to have them drain out your mortgage/rent payment and all your ACH’s. This can be a costly headache if your payees attach fees to missed payments.


What To Know About Credit Cards When You Travel

Your best bet is to travel with Visa or Mastercard. Although there are places that will take American Express and Discover Card they are fewer and further between.

Sign up for a travel-friendly card. Capital One Venture Card, Chase Sapphire, and many of the Barclay Group cards all have zero transaction fees for international travel. Do your research on the best credit cards for international travel and sign up for a new card that is designed for international travel. Not only will you not have transaction fees but you will also get better exchange rates.

Only ever complete transactions in the local currency. Many places with a high tourist footprint will offer you to make the charge in their currency or your home currency. You will always get a bad exchange rate if you opt for your own currency.

Money Belts

Depending on where you are traveling a money belt can be a really good idea. These are flat pouches that hold passport, credit cards and cash and are worn underneath your clothes.

Eagle Creek money belt sits under your waistband and holds passport, cash and credit cards

Eagle Creek money belts are available at The Container Store

  • Think of your money belt as a safe, not a wallet.
  • Take out what you need for the day and keep everything else inside your money belt. The idea is that no one knows you have one on, so don’t get it out during the day to get more cash or cards.
  • Think about what you are wearing – if you have a money belt with a tight T-shirt over top then everyone can see you are wearing a money belt, so you have just alerted the thieves exactly where your valuables are.
  • Think you can stop them getting your money belt if they can see it? Think again. They are pros at separating tourists from their valuables and will be off with your passport, cash and cards before you know it.
  • Separate your cash and cards. Never have everything all in one place. A small stash of cash and a card hidden in a separate place can be your saving grace if a pickpocket gets the better of you.


Travel Insurance

You should buy a travel insurance policy for every overseas trip. Get coverage for lost or missed flight connections, lost luggage, failure to make or complete the trip due to medical issues, and super, super important get coverage for a major medical incident. We don’t plan on anything major going wrong when we travel, but we need to be prepared in case heaven forbid we wind up in a car accident, have a heart attack, get appendicitis etc.

Find the best choice for the travel insurance benefits you need with Allianz Travel’s OneTrip Suite of plans. Get Your Free Quote Today!
Look for a policy that covers a flight home for you with a nurse should it be necessary.

I have used Allianz Travel for all my travel insurance for years. Should you get sick while away you can call Allianz and they will find you an English speaking doctor nearby.

So the lady who got conned into taking a €500 note at the airport in Rome? She got very stuck. No one will cash a €500 bill. Apart from the fact that it could be counterfeit, most places don’t carry that kind of surplus cash. Even banks may not want to help you out.

Bonus Content

The lead up to an international trip can be really stressful – there are so many things to remember and to take care of before you go! I have a pre-travel checklist that I use myself and also give to all my Glam Italia Tour travelers. It is in PDF form so you can download it and print it as often as you want.

If you would like this stress-busting checklist just CLICK HERE

Do you read books digitally yet? Do you have a smartphone or a tablet? If so then you need to know about the Kindle Countdown!

Digital books on the Kindle App

Before you say “but I don’t have a Kindle!” don’t worry, neither do I.  I download books from to the Kindle App, which is free. It means I can read my books on any of my devices, from my Smartphone to my tablet (I use an iPad but it works on any tablet) to my laptop.

Initially I wasn’t into it, preferring to have the tangible experience of holding a physical book. But I also used to like playing music on C.Ds. Now all my music is digital, either coming to me via iTunes or Pandora.

I didn’t get on board with reading digital books until I started getting frustrated by having to waste space and weight on physical books while traveling. No one travel guide has everything you want, so I would end up with 2 or 3 travel books as well as however many novels I wanted to read while I was away. It was ridiculous.

So that’s how I got my first digital books. I got the Kindle App on my iPad (which automatically went to all of my devices) and started reading them there while traveling. After a while it just became the easiest way to read books.

My library connected with a service called Overdrive who then delivered library books to the Kindle App for me to read – it was (and is) fantastic!

kindle app logo

The Kindle App logo

When I wrote my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy my initial plan was for it to only be available as a digital book because I wanted everyone to have help at their fingertips while traveling in Italy. But Amazon has print-on-demand, so it made sense to offer it as a paperback as well.

Kindle Countdown Deals

As I started reading books on the Kindle App Amazon started sending me emails with other books I might like, at a discount.

The Amazon algorithm looks at the books you have liked and give 5 stars to and then finds books that other people have also bought when buying the books you enjoy. All good so far – but it gets better! Authors can’t really discount their hardcopy books too much because of the costs involved in manufacturing them. Digital books have no manufacturing costs, only a small downloading fee for the author, and as such can be discounted.

Amazon allows authors who meet certain criteria to do a Kindle Countdown every so often. This happens over the course of 5 days. The book will start as low as 99 cents or $1.99 and then go up in price by $1 each day of the countdown, before going back to the regular sales price.

When you buy books through Amazon on the Kindle App the algorithm will email you each week with Kindle Countdown book deals for books you would like. It’s fantastic! They know my favorite authors, so when there is a book at 99 cents or $3.99 or wherever it is in the sequence, I get an email and can download it with one click. It means that I can read a book for $1.99 or whatever the price is that day instead of paying $19.95 for the paperback.

This week my book Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy is on the Kindle Countdown.

Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy is available this week on the Kindle Countdown. Starting at $1.99 it will go up in price by $1 per day until Friday. On Saturday it will be back at its normal price of $9.95. All you need to do is download the Kindle App to your smartphone or tablet and the book will automatically be stored there. You won't lose space or data on your device. Happy reading!

Starting today, Monday October 22nd, the digital edition of my book is only $1.99. Tomorrow it will be $2.99. Each day this week it goes up in price by $1 and then on Saturday goes back to its normal price of $9.95.

This is the perfect time to download the book! If you have friends or family members interested in doing a trip to Italy at some point, you can even gift them a copy. All they have to do is download the Kindle App and the book will appear there under the All Books tab. It’s so easy!

Take advantage of the Kindle Countdown Pricing HERE

Amazon also offers a subscription plan for a service called Kindle Unlimited. With Unlimited you pay a monthly fee of (I think!) $9.95 and then can download as many books as you want each month for free. You can see details on it here:Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans

Happy reading!



Are you traveling any time soon? Do you have a list of travel essentials that absolutely must go on board the plane with you? At the time of writing this I have a friends stranded in an international airport with none of the things I recommend on hand. I swear – I tell my friends these things all the time and they never listen, but my readers are often messaging me saying “Thank God you told us to pack this item! makes the best luggage! Unbreakable, chic, lightweight and innovative.

Away carry on bags are super chic! Find them at

This post has affiliate links so that you can just click and purchase anything you don’t already have. There is a chance that this blog will receive a couple of cents on the dollar if you buy something.

Before I get into the list I want to stress to you the importance of buying travel insurance on international trips. Of course there is the medical benefit should something major go wrong, and I always have a policy that will pay for a nurse to fly back with me should something really bad happen. But I do think the little things an insurance policy covers are crucial too. Should you find yourself stranded overnight in an airport terminal your policy should cover putting you in a hotel, or getting you another flight home.

If your suitcase goes missing your insurance policy should cover you for replacement clothing while you are away. If you miss your connecting flight you will want coverage too.
I always use Allianz Travel Insurance. There is a link at the bottom of this post, and also some travel insurance information for you here:
Check out the Top Ten reasons why people buy Travel Insurance and see if it is right for you.

7 Things You Need To Pack In Your

Carry On Bag

1. An External Phone Charger

I am a firm believer that you should never get on a plane without a fully charged phone and a fully charged phone charger. We have all heard horror stories of passengers being forced o sit on the tarmac for hours, flights being rerouted and stuck somewhere, flights being delayed or cancelled. There are so many things that can happen (and frequently do) that leave you in a situation where you really do need to use your phone.

Although most airport terminals have places where you can plug in to charge up, I have never seen one with enough power points for everyone to plug in.

I recommend getting a charger that lets you fully charge your phone from dead, at least two times. I have one that is too heavy, but I got my son this one this summer. It is lightweight and relatively small but has 10,000 mAh
Jooswin Portable Qi Wireless Charger 10000mAh Power Bank For Any Smartphone ,Tablet PC JW-WCP111 (Black)

If you are an Apple user make sure you pack the Android charging cable too. Apple cables won’t plug into most chargers to charge them up. You can charger your Apple phones and iPads on them, but need the Android cable that comes with them too.


2. An International Power Adapter

international travel adaptor with fittings for every country. A must when traveling internationally

If you are traveling internationally you will need a travel adapter for any electronics you will be plugging in. From curling irons to hairdryers to laptops to phones there are always things you need to plug in! An internationally configured adapter is essential. Different countries have different wall fittings, so your plug from home won’t fit. They also have different voltage – the USA has 110 volts but most other places have up to 220 volts. This means you will blow your electronics the first time you plug them in if you don’t have an adapter.

I have used this one from the Container Store for several years. It has fittings for every country I travel to, and also has a USB charging port to charge phones with.

3. Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise cancelling headphones are essential for air travel. Block out everything from screaming babies to loud talkers with these Bose headphones

Even if you don’t have screaming babies or loud talkers to contend with, the buzz and hum of airplane engines seldom turns into white noise. Typically it is the noise that keeps you awake for the entire flight.

If you are sitting on or behind the wing (economy class) you cannot get away from the noise of the engines. Even in first/business you sometimes hear it. Noise cancelling headphones block out all the noises that will drive you crazy during the flight.

I always get Bose headphones because I like their sound quality. Or, should I say, I’ve had Bose headphones for years. (they last a really long time!) They always offer Bose headphones in First/Business class, so there must be benefits to them over others.
Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series I) Wireless Headphones, Noise Cancelling – Silver


4. Portable WiFi

portable wifi hotspot for international travel

Although there is public WiFi available when you travel it is seldom secure. When you sign on to free WiFi hackers have easy access to all the info including passwords, that you have on your device. A portable WiFi unit not only keeps your data safe but also keeps you connected all the time.

I had been paying $10 per day to have international service with Verizon, but this past summer I rented a portable WiFi unit from Espresso WiFi in Italy. It was fantastic! The service was much better than Verizon too.

Airport WiFi is notoriously expensive, unsecure (and hopeless) and is to be avoided. Having your own little WiFi device is a brilliant option.

GlocalMe G3 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot,

5. A Big Scarf

I have traveled with a giant pashmina for the past 20 years. It is starting to look a little worn now but it has been the best investment ever. It is lightweight, doesn’t take up any room and is really warm. Planes can be really cold and you never know how clean or dirty airplane blankets really are. A few years ago my son opened his plastic wrapped airline blanket and it was full of moth holes! It also smelled really bad. I prefer to have my own pashmina with me.

It also doubles up as a pillow on the plane and a really chic, warm wrap when I don’t want to carry around a jacket or coat.


6. A Change Of Clothes

I actually pack 3 days worth of clothes into my carry on when flying internationally. If the airline should lose your suitcase you need to be able to change into something clean. They normally have your bag back to you in 3 days, but if they don’t you can at least mix and match and wash pieces each day. If 3 changes feels excessive just pack one. It never hurts to be prepared!

7. Healthy Snacks

You never know when or where you will be stuck without something to eat, or something healthy to eat. If your flight gets grounded for hours, makes an emergency stop somewhere, gets cancelled or you are in any situation without food you will be glad to have some protein bars or other healthy snacks to tide you over.

Although I have never had a food emergency, I nearly did. I flew home from Rome on an Alitalia flight a year ago and didn’t have breakfast ahead of time because they normally feed you so much on international flights. On this flight there were no snacks, we waited hours for food and when it came it was like a child’s meal, approximately the size of a Lunchables. I was starving! The man sitting next to me was nearly in tears. He was really hungry and there weren’t even any extra meals on board. He and I shared the protein bars in my carry on bag, which were a lifesaver. But I still arrived in Los Angeles after a 10 hour flight with a banging headache…


Getting ready to travel can be stressful. There is so much to remember, so many things to take care of, so many things to do. I have taken the stress out of travel for you with my printable PDF Pre Travel Checklists.

I use these myself and I give them to my Glam Italia Tour travelers to make sure they get to the airport with as little stress as possible!

If you would like your own copy of this lifesaving stress-buster just click below: