Every year, Flight Centre Australia compiles a list of red hot travel spots that they believe are sure to deliver amazing travel experiences to all that visit them. 2017 is no different, with some oldies-but-goodies making their list, as well as a few more out-there destinations.
Whether you have already booked a holiday to one of these amazing destinations, or if you’re still looking for some inspiration, we wanted to complement Flight Centre’s list of Top Travel Destinations for 2017 with information on each country’s currency, a rough idea of what things might cost you, and other travel money tips that can help you on your holiday.
Kon'nichiwa! Offering a captivating mix of culture, food, natural beauty and a unique history, the allure of Japan is unmistakeable, as is the reason why it made it to the top position for 2017!
The Japanese currency is the Yen (code: JPY; symbol: ¥). It is pronounced as “en” in Japanese, and the common banknotes include ¥1000; ¥2000; ¥5000 and ¥10000; while the most common coins in circulation are the ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100 and ¥500.
The ¥5 and ¥50 yen coins actually have a hole in the middle of them to make them harder to counterfeit!
In Japan, you will find ATM’s everywhere, but, something that trips A LOT of travellers up is the fact that many of them do not accept debit or credit cards issued outside of Japan! If you need to draw money using your Aussie bank card, you will need to find an ATM located in the post office or a convenience store. Because of the limited access to ATMs, we think it is a good idea to take some Yen with you before you go so that you aren’t stuck without cash.
Accommodation costs in Japan vary from around AU$80 per night for a budget twin-share room, up to AU$600 or more for a luxury hotel. Dining costs can also vary a lot, with options from low-cost meals to fine dining experiences available, depending on your travel budget.
In Japan, tipping is not customary, and a tip may even be refused because it can be considered rude. If you do want to leave a tip for your waiter or housekeeper, we would suggesting placing it in an envelope and leaving it on the restaurant table or in your hotel room.
The best way to travel around Japan is by train, and you can save some money by purchasing a Japan Rail Pass for 1, 2 or 3 weeks of travel. But, these MUST be bought in Australia before you leave!
Iceland’s capital is full of natural beauty, creative cityscapes, Viking history and diverse food, and it’s easy to see why it took the number 2 spot in the list this year.
Although it is part of Europe, Iceland is not a member of the EU and it does not use the Euro as its currency. The currency you will need for a visit to Reykjavik is the Icelandic Krona (code: ISK, symbol: kr). Not a lot of banks and exchange bureaus carry the Icelandic krona (Travel Money Oz included), so it can be difficult to exchange your currency before you go. However, you can easily exchange US dollars or Euros at the Keflavik Airport, or in Reykjavik, so before you go, we can help you get this sorted.
You will find that Iceland is very much a cashless society, and credit and debit cards are used more than cash. So, if you have a travel money card with EUR on it, then that is another way to go. You will still be subject to daily conversion rate changes, but your money will be safe and payments will be easy! Our Key to the World Currency Card may be the perfect solution! You can load up to 10 currencies* on one card, so if you travelling to more than one location, you can re-use the same card.
Tipping is not required when you’re in Iceland, as services and VAT taxes will be included in prices. However, rounding up the bill at a restaurant, or leaving a small tip, will be appreciated.
You should exchange any surplus ISK you may have at the end of your trip before you leave the country, otherwise you may be stuck with it when you get home as not many places are likely to do an exchange for you.
Whether you are a Game of Thrones junkie and want to explore the filming locations, or are drawn to the diverse history, beauty, culture and food of this Eastern European country, Croatia as a holiday destination is hard to beat.
Croatia joined the EU in 2013, but they have yet to adopt the Euro as their currency, instead opting to keep using their own currency, the Croatian kuna (code: HRK, symbol: kn). The exchange rate of the Kuna is fixed to the Euro, and you will find that because of this, some businesses will accept Euro’s as payment, but this is not official practice and can’t be expected.
It is easy to exchange foreign currencies into HRK when you are on the mainland, but if you are visiting one of the islands, it is best to take cash with you. In any case, we always recommend exchanging some money before you go so you have cash on you in case you need it.
Croatia is no longer the super-cheap destination that it once was thanks to its increase in popularity. But it is still cheaper than Western European destinations. You will find that prices are higher in the peak of the summer season.
In Croatia, tipping is encouraged:
Aye, Bonnie Scotland! Edinburgh makes the list for its all-round feel-good vibe, and its heady mix of history, culture and humour.
As Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, they use the British Pound (code: GBP, symbol £) to pay for things. Scotland does issue its own banknote version of the GBP, but it is interchangeable with the banknotes issued by the Bank of England, so you can use either while you are gallivanting around Edinburgh (just expect to be given change in the Scottish version).
While you are in Edinburgh, you will find a 10 to 15% tip at a restaurant is the norm, while in hotels, £1 per bag is standard for porters, and tips for cleaning staff can be left at your discretion. At a pub, tips for the bartender are not expected unless you receive table service, in which case £1 per round of drinks is ok for a tip. If you are getting a taxi, just round the fare up to the nearest pound.
We’re halfway through the list, and of course, the good ol’ US of A could not be left out! Always an Aussie favourite, the 50 states all leave us with a different experience and a different type of holiday, so we can keep going back again and again.
Of course, in America, the US dollar is the currency used (code: USD, symbol: $), and it is broken up into cents.
Prices for the USA vary widely, because all of the States are so different. The costs used in the accommodation table above are based on hotel prices in Washington DC, so they may differ vastly in other parts of the country.
Debit and credit cards are widely accepted throughout the USA, but it is a good idea to keep cash on you for smaller purchases and tips. The USA has a big culture of tipping, and in a restaurant, 15 to 20% of the bill is expected, while for drinks you should tip $1 to $2 per drink. For hotel staff, work to roughly tip $1 or $2 for porters, $5 for cleaning staff, 10 to 15% of the room service bill and $5 for a valet. And if you are getting a taxi, the recommended tip is around 10 to 15% of the fare.
Make sure you apply for your ESTA visa before you leave Australia (if applicable) – it will only cost you $14. It’s super easy to do online, and you do NOT need a visa agent to help you. The extra fee is a waste of money for sure!
Sun, sand and sea. If Portugal is calling you, you are in for a treat.
While it is not as cheap as it used to be, it is a cheaper travel destination than other Western and Northern European countries. As part of the EU, Portugal uses the Euro (code: EUR, symbol: €) as its currency. Visa and MasterCard credit and debit cards, as well as our Key to the World Currency Card, are easily accepted in Portugal, and you will find ATM’s everywhere.
The benefit of using a Key to the World Currency card is that when you load you card, you can lock in your exchange rate, so you know exactly how much you have to spend. This will mean you can exchange your AUD into EUR when the rate is favourable, and just use your card as a debit card, or withdraw cash, whenever you need to, no matter which European country you are in.
Tipping expectations in Portugal are fairly standard – 10% of the bill in a restaurant; round the up the fare to the nearest euro for a taxi ride, and a small per bag tip for porters and a per day tip for cleaning staff.
Most Portuguese ATM’s (Multibanco) do not charge a local ATM operator fee, so if you are withdrawing cash, you will only have to pay a fee for the International Withdrawal, as charged by your card operator.
This hidden gem in Latin America’s crown is bursting with undiscovered land, isolated beaches and striking colonial architecture. It’s a must-do for those seeking adventure and the outdoors!
In Colombia, the currency used is the Peso (code: COP, symbol: $). The banknotes most commonly used are $1000, $2000, $5000, $10000, $20000 and $50000, while the most common coins are 20, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos.
In Colombia, credit and debit cards are not used in a lot of places, and ATMs can be expensive to use. Plus, if you are exchanging money in Colombia, you may find a cap on how much you can exchange at any one time. So, we definitely recommend taking some COP with you. Some businesses may accept USD for payment, but this will likely be at a very high exchange.
In Aussie prices, accommodation and dining are fairly cheap, so this may be a destination where you can splash out, even if you are travelling on a budget. With regards to tips, if you are dining out, you may find a 10% tip automatically added to your bill – this tip is “voluntary” – you don’t have to pay it, but you will find that most people do!
If you are paying by credit card, you will likely need to show photo ID to complete the transaction.
The Scandi allure of Norway is undeniable. Brimming with pure, unspoilt natural beauty, delightfully strange animals and an intriguing culture, Norway deserves its spot on this list for sure!
The currency used in Norway is the Norwegian Krone (code: NOK, symbol: kr), but in Norway, cash is no longer King, and plastic is all the rage. In almost all places you will find that debit cards are accepted, but it is still a good idea to have some cash on you for small transactions and emergencies.
Foreign cash is rarely accepted in Norway, including the Euro, but you will find ATMs everywhere you go – even in rural areas, there will be at least one place to withdraw money from. Some places may not accept foreign credit cards, but they still usually accept foreign debit cards.
Norway is considered to be quite an expensive country to travel, as I’m sure you can see from the accommodation price guide, but it can be done on a budget - you just need to do a little bit of research before you book!
NOK is informally accepted at many shops in Sweden and Finland that are close to the Norwegian border, as well as at Danish ferry ports.
The crowning jewel of Old Blighty! London continues to reign supreme as a must-see destination for Australians, as it is impossible to beat its mix of history, culture, landmark and just general surprises.
The currency you will need on a London holiday is the British Pound (code: GBP, symbol: £), which is divided into 100 pence. You will also use the same currency if you are visiting #4 on this list (Edinburgh, Scotland), Wales, Northern Ireland or a host of other UK territories.
In London bars and cafes, tipping is rare, but in some restaurants you may find they have their own tipping policy – like they may automatically add a service charge to your bill, or they may have tip jars at the front counter. At hotels, it is appreciated to leave a small tip for your porter, but a tip is not required for taxi drivers.
The best way to see London is by walking. But, if it’s too cold, too snowy, too rainy or you’re just too lazy, the Underground (or ‘The Tube’) is also fantastic. You can save money by purchasing an Oyster Card (£5 refundable deposit) and using it as a Pay As You Go travel card. But, if you use a Key to the World Currency Card you won’t need to purchase an Oyster Card, and can simply tap your card and go! Just pre-load your card with pounds to get started!
Last, but by no means least. The City of Love, seducing travellers for years – Paris is intoxicating for those that love to indulge in culture, history, wine, and maybe escargot.
In Paris, you will need the Euro to pay for that wine and escargots, amongst other things. It is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, and the prices definitely reflect that, making it not the cheapest place to go on holiday unfortunately. On the plus side, tipping is not expected because most restaurants will include a service fee. Here or there (a café, tour guides, taxi drivers) a small tip is appreciated as a gesture of thanks though.
As Paris is a very card-friendly country, you may prefer the option of a travel money card rather than using your bank cards from home, which tend to come with lots of fees and extras when you use them overseas. We can help you figure out which travel money options are best for you though!
If you insert a foreign bank card into the ATM, the language on the screen will automatically default to English so you don’t need to dust off your rusty French to withdraw some cash.
I’ve ticked off a few places on this travel list already, but it has definitely inspired me to start thinking about my next holiday! So many options, so little leave!
But, whether you are going to one of the above countries, or somewhere entirely different, we can definitely help you explore your travel money options – from cash to travel money cards - and help getting your foreign currency sorted before you leave. Just find your nearest store and speak to one of our FXperts today!
This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you. We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.
“Top Travel Destinations for 2017” was created by Flight Centre Australia. The original blog article can be referenced here: http://www.flightcentre.com.au/travel-news/destinations/where-to-travel-in-2017
*10 currencies for the Key the World card includes: USD, EUR, GBP, THB,SGD, NZD, HKD, JPY, CAD & AUD.