Wherever you travel, you need ready access to cash during your vacation, but most travelers do not feel safe carrying large sums of money on vacation.
It was not to long ago that Travelers checks were the popular way of taking money on trips. As Traveler checks are still widely accepted, they are being used less and less by the experienced traveler. Now a days the preferred choice of taking money on a trip is with credit cards, charge cards and ATM cards, and using plastic offers a lot more flexibility than travelers checks.
ATM cards are being used more and more, they are easy to use, ATM machines are easy to find, and gives the traveler a safe and quick way to get local currency. Using an ATM card is usually better than using an exchange counter. Your bank will get a wholesale exchange rate that is far better than will be found at the local exchange counter. While most credit card or banks will will charge a 1% fee for foreign exchange, they will usually get a more competitive exchange rate than you are likely to get at the airport or hotel exchange desks, so it's still one of the cheapest ways exchange currency.
When you pay for hotel, restaurant or purchases with a credit card, you might be asked if you wish to charge the card in Dollars (or in your home currency) rather than the local currency. While it may seem convenient to do so, it really is not a good idea since the local merchant is charging his own exchange rate. You would be better off in the long run to charge in the local currency and have your bank or credit card company get the best exchange rate..
The store, hotel or restaurant will apply an exchange rate from local currency that will almost be considerably less favorable than the one your bank will apply. These higher charges quickly add up and by paying in Dollars you can end up spending quite a bit extra over an entire vacation. If given the option it would be better to pay your bill in local currency using your credit or ATM card.
It is a good idea to check with your local bank before leaving the country and trying to use your ATM or credit cards, a lot of Banks will have a hold or not allow charges on ATM cards and credit cards when they are used out of the country. This is a safety net for you. We usually will just give the Bank a call and let them know that we will be in which country for a certain time frame and the bank will take the lock off the credit card for the specified time frame