I am fascinated with the concept of traveling internationally with bitcoin and with a bitcoin debit card, so I have been researching everything I can find on the subject.
I downloaded the Xapo.com app on my iPhone (they have an android app too) so now all I need to do is get a trip booked! I will be in Australia at the end of summer, but I want to take a euro-trip before then.
If you have already traveled with Xapo.com Bitcoin wallet and or debit card, please tell us about it in the comment section below.
screenshot from my xapo app
Meanwhile check out these Bitcoin Travel Tips, and watch the video below:
This article is taken in its entirety from letstalkbitcoin.com
Bitcoin Travel Tips:
Plan ahead. This one is important. In plenty of cases, you won’t be able to go downstairs to a corner store to grab a snack or a bottle of water – use Coinmap, Cointerest, and Bitcoin Restaurants to find merchants which accept bitcoin or Coin ATM Radar to locate ATM’s that allow exchange into local currency.
Don’t be afraid to ask. If someone doesn’t accept bitcoin, it doesn’t mean that you can’t change their mind. The competition in places with plenty of tourists is huge, so business owners will usually do everything to entice you to choose them over their rivals. More often than not, you can use that to your advantage.
Approach the community. There are plenty of close-knit Bitcoin communities all over the world. More often than not, the locals will get out of their way to help a fellow Bitcoiner. So if you need advice before setting off to a certain destination or run out of road once you’re already there, be sure to Google for local forums or check out Bitcoin Talk and LocalBitcoins.
Capitalize on the savings. Paying with bitcoin directly will pretty much always be cheaper than exchanging it into local currency. Some purchases (such as airline tickets) from specialized websites can even be less expensive than buying them from a traditional provider.
Don’t give up. If you can’t find any merchants that accept bitcoin on Coinmap or other similar websites, it doesn’t mean you should skip the place altogether. Sometimes all you have to do is take a walk around the neighborhood and look for the bitcoin sign. For instance, you can use the cryptocurrency in more than 5,000 convenience stores in Taiwan, but they don’t seem to appear anywhere on the available bitcoin maps.
Be ready to make exceptions. Unless you made a pledge to spend no fiat currency on your trip, it’s necessary to understand that you probably won’t be able to pay with bitcoin in each and every instance. So if you really want that scarf from the souk in Marrakech, there are no reasons to limit yourself!
Get ready to educate. Sometimes, the only difference between a successful bitcoin transaction and you having to go to bed hungry is your ability to introduce all the benefits of bitcoin to a merchant who’s never used it before. You won’t need killer presentation skills for that, since the advantages of accepting bitcoin are listed by BitPay and Coinbase.
Check the exchange rate. You don’t need to pay more than you owe, even if you’re paying in bitcoin. Therefore, you should consider both the fluctuating exchange rate and the possibility of a conversion error – it can happen to both you and the merchant.
Have a budget in mind. While setting a clear bitcoin budget for your trip might be difficult because of the currency’s volatility, it would still be great to have a ballpark figure in your mind. Overspending is as easy on bitcoin as it is on a fiat currency – if not easier.
Are you wondering how to handle your money when you travel internationally? I get asked about it all the time.
I also get asked about how to handle pickpockets stealing your cash or credit cards. Touch wood, so far I’ve been safe.
When I first started travelling internationally the entire money equation was a headache. You had to use International Travelers Cheques, which you would purchase in the currency/currencies of the country/countries you were traveling to, which was often a complete nuisance.
You needed to wear a money belt under your clothes and keep your travelers cheques, passport and extra cash in it for safe keeping. You had to keep meticulous details on your travelers cheques – which you had cashed, and where you cashed them, in case your cheques were stolen. If you had American Express travelers cheques you were OK because they would replace them within a day or two, but other companies were terrible, and you could be stuck out there in the world with no money for days on end. You also paid a fee to get your travelers cheques, and then at the money changing places you would pay another fee to cash them.
Now we travel with plastic, but not all cards are created equal, and you have to be very careful which cards you travel with.
Currencies fluctuate from day to day and throughout the day, but you seldom get the actual official exchange rate when you swipe your card. Banks get really liberal with the numbers and are generally substantially different from the official rate. My bank is generally at least 6% higher than the official exchange rate, so I lose at best 6 cents on every dollar I exchange. So in general, I don’t use them. When you charge something to a credit card you will pay multiple fees – sometimes from the local merchant, your bank will always charge you for using the card overseas, an exchange rate that is nowhere near the actual rate for the day, and a conversion fee. So if you are using a credit card, only use it for the big expenses. Also, unless using American Express you may find your credit card protection against faulty purchases, items broken in shipping, or shipped items that don’t arrive, is either sketchy or non existant when dealing with a foreign purchase.
Ceramics purchased in Sicily arrived broken, Visa wouldn’t help.
Last year I shipped ceramics from Sicily, some of which arrived broken. The merchant suddenly didn’t speak english anymore, and Visa wouldn’t reverse the payment, or help me at all. (I wrote about it HERE) I specifically used a Visa card because I wanted a layer of protection. But in the end I paid all those excessive credit card fees for nothing.
Debit cards are ideal, but also come with their share of headaches.
Firstly you have to find out what your bank charges you for walking up to a foreign ATM – there will be a fee and it is often a steep one. Also you may get charged by the local bank for using their ATM. You do however get the best exchange rate. I use a credit union debit card as it has really low rates.
One thing I am looking into for international travel is Bitcoin. Bitcoin is a crypto currency that is used digitally, and not affiliated with any bank, or any single currency. I am looking at Xapo.com for bitcoin as they not only let you utilize a bitcoin wallet (click link for information) but they also have a Xapo debit card, which you can use anywhere that accepts cards. Many major cities have bitcoin ATMs too.
One of the benefits of traveling with bitcoin is that lack of bank fees. Bitcoins instantly convert to the currency of the country you are spending them in, so all you pay for is the items you are purchasing. Another benefit is that with credit cards, merchants can wittingly or unwittingly share your payment credentials, exposing you to fraud. Plenty of travelers have had thousands charged to their cards or had access to their cards shut down while traveling due to fraud. Xapo.com is the leader in Bitcoin security, so you have that extra peace of mind when you are making purchases.
If you are relying solely on credit and debit cards when you are traveling you can find yourself in a world of trouble if your cards get lost or stolen. If you are in a major city such as Paris or Madrid, your bank can take days to replace your lost card, but it will probably get one to you. If you are anywhere remote, such as a small town or worse still on honeymoon in Bora Bora, there is absolutely no guarantee a replacement card will get to you prior to your trip ending.
Having a bitcoin account as a backup is a brilliant idea – if your cards are stolen you can still access money. And if you make purchases with your bitcoins you avoid all the credit card fees.
“Bitcoin perfectly acts as a single cross-border payment token that doesn’t ask hefty commissions or any sort of conversion charges. So selling a coffee on an on-board flight, or paying a restaurant bill in a foreign country becomes instantly easy, without relying on exchanging currencies firsthand.”
Xapo.com Bitcoin is really easy to use. You simply download an app to your phone. At any time while you are traveling you can add money to your bitcoin wallet from your laptop. All you need is an internet connection.
Although I don’t think that at this point I could exclusively use Bitcoin for international travel, I do think it will become the way of the future. I would however love to try taking a trip exclusively with bitcoin and see how well I do – wouldn’t that make a fabulous live blog series??