The Importance of Taking Cash

Here’s a riddle for you: What do Londoners have in common with the Queen?

Answer: They never carry cash.

We are so used to living with cash cards, Oysters, membership cards and swipe keys, it’s hard for Londoners to imagine life without plastic. This is OK when you’re at home in the capital, but venture even a few miles out of town and you’ll wish you’d visited one of those funny holes in the wall with buttons. Because, believe it or not, there are loads of situations where cards are a no go. Road tolls, corner shops and market stalls have all caught us out in our time.

A few Sundays ago, I was walking in the Welsh valleys with four mates when we came to a tiny country pub. Run by two old ladies and resembling someone’s front room, this place hadn’t brought chip and pin technology through the threshold just yet.

Between us, we had about £8 in cash. As we sipped four halves of lager and nibbled on a packet of dry roasted peanuts, it struck me just how clueless we townies had appeared to the old dears behind the pumps.

Luckily, we were only an hour’s walk from where we were staying and no one was harmed (there was plenty of booze back at the farmhouse). But like our Ray-Ban sunglasses and fear of mud, it was just another thing that gave us away as out-of-towners.

Travel Money Tips:

  • Tell your bank if you’re going abroad. They might suspend your account if you try to draw out money somewhere out of the ordinary
  • When you arrive, break a note asap and keep the change in your pocket
  • Keep a little conversion table in your wallet until you learn the exchange rate
  • Hedge your bets – keep some cash in your backpack, some in your room, and some in your money belt
  • If you’re a fan of the money belt, make sure it’s not visible and only get it out in private (if nothing else, it’s a massive turn-off)
  • Always bring a credit card. You may be paying for it years later but its always good to have the option if things get hairy
  • You’re likely to come home with a bunch of unused travellers cheques, but it’s better than needing them and not having them
  • Read about more money stuff here.

This is a new section of The London Word that forgets about a phone signal and wanders the world. Each week, Cath will be blogging about her sneaky getaways and reminiscing about life on the road. Stay tuned for travel trends, cool getaways and hidden gems from Southend to Singapore.

Next time: Exploring Berlin…

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