How do you prepare for International Travel? Passport, check! Credit card, check! Currency exchange, screech! No check!
My husband and I learned that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, and therefore uses the British pound for currency. The Republic of Ireland, which is a separate and sovereign country, is part of the European Union, and they use the Euro. Did you know that? Ireland is an irresistibly interesting island of intrigue!
Our lesson in Currency Exchange
We were headed to southern Island, so we needed Euro. We read that we should trade our currency in the USA because the exchange rates would be less expensive. Our bank offers this service, so we headed there as soon as we got off work the day before our departure.
Everything was great until the Teller asked for a phone number to call when our Euro arrived. “Wait, what? How long does it take?” We asked.
“Three or four days.” She said.
“But we’re leaving tomorrow!” We explained.
“Well, we don’t keep foreign currency here.” She sounded like we should have known.
We thanked her anyway and she confirmed what we’d heard, that we could exchange our money at the airport for a slightly higher fee. I left “Exchange Currency” on my to-do list and asked God to help me remember in the excitement of departure.
God did not let me forget! But upon inquiry at our airport, we learned exchange services are no longer available there. I resigned myself to paying whatever it cost to accomplish this errand in Europe.
When we landed in Ireland, I asked an airport employee where we could exchange our currency. She said there was no place on site, but any major bank should be able to help. Over the next couple of days, we stood in line at 3 different Irish banks. They each refused us because we had no account with them.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:19
We never exchanged currency, and you know what? It was fine! Our credit cards were accepted everywhere we went. Every vendor from taxi drivers to shopkeepers made payment easy with tap-and-go technology. And the people to whom we offered tips did not mind receiving them in US dollars.
The only Euro I saw on my entire vacation was this coin I found on the street in Ireland. I mindlessly picked it up and put it in my pocket, thinking it was a ‘lucky penny’. I didn’t realize it was Euro until I got home.
I couldn’t help but chuckle. It was ironic that, as hard as I tried to acquire Irish currency, I couldn’t. And the Euro I did get, was obtained completely unaware.
So, here is the lesson learned. If we want to exchange money, we need to order it from our bank days in advance of travel. Also, foreign currency might not be necessary.
Note: Several vendors mentioned they do not take American Express. If that is the credit card you carry, it might be best to obtain currency for your destination.
Have you ever exchanged currency for travel? What kind of money did you get? How and where did you accomplish the task?
Curious how this Ireland trip came about?
Click here for the introduction post.