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I had a couple of international speaking engagements in late 2015 and was trying to not have to exchange money for the local currency – mostly so I could blog about it:
Why you no longer have to exchange money while traveling abroad!
And I figured since I never carry cash at home, maybe I could continue living like that abroad.
I started in Canada where I was speaking at a marketing conference about social media bad practices – yup, bad practices, not best practices. Glad everyone is reading closely! 🙂 I never exchanged any money there and just used my credit card. Everything was fine and I didn’t even feel like I had needed to exchange money.
Then later that month, I traveled to India via London to speak at a blogging conference there. I was able to use my card in my short stop in London so no exchanging was needed there. I was trying really hard to not exchange U.S. Dollars for Indian Rupees, but here’s why it didn’t work.
You know how American restaurants allow you to leave tips on your credit card? So super helpful. I didn’t see any restaurants nor my hotel in Mumbai that would allow me to do that. Tips were always given in cash – and unfortunately I didn’t have any.
Before I got some cash, one of the waiters actually asked me “if there was something wrong with the meal.”
“Nope.” The only thing wrong with me is that I haven’t exchanged any money, yet. So, that’s just awkward and not very nice – even though not intentionally rude.
So I did end up getting some cash – mostly so I could tip people for bringing me my food, planning my day-trip, driving me around town, etc. etc.
Also, people try to constantly sell you things on the side of the road and near tourist attractions. I doubt they would have taken credit cards. This girl – like many others – was very relentless in her pursuit to sell me something. Not that I could tell you what it was actually. Some kind of bag, I think.
One woman finally gave up trying to sell me this bracelet and just tried to put it on my arm, saying: ‘No money. Don’t be afraid.”
It’s not that I was afraid, but if I wanted to wear something on my wrist, it would be an Apple Watch and not this leafy bracelet.
Either way, people wouldn’t be selling things in this attack-style way if nobody was buying from them. I bet just enough people buy something to make it worth it. Kind of like annoying marketing techniques – they work just well enough to make a bit of profit.
So, traveling without exchanging money isn’t possible, yet. I was sure it would be, but it’s not. I was wrong. I can admit that. Ha.
I’ve actually carried more actual cash on my India trip than I do normally in the United States – where I carry literally no cash ever.
It’s a good reminder, too, that just because our expectation is one thing, that doesn’t mean that the whole world is going to have the same way of living their lives.