ATMs don’t always have cash.
It’s a strange concept to us in the U.S. or Canada, but it’s not uncommon for ATMs in foreign countries – particularly developing nations – to run out of money, go unfilled for days, or even get shut down during holidays.

Banking AbroadThere are different rules at banks there.
You’ll notice several heavily armed guards, holding shotguns or even submachineguns, at most banks. Don’t be alarmed – they’re there to protect the establishment and its patrons.

There are different rules at most banks abroad, or even the ATMs. For instance, you can’t wear a hat, sunglasses, etc. into the bank, and they’ll definitel y check your bag or backpack before you enter. Why? They’re trying to deter robbers. Of course, you need to be dressed appropriately when going into a bank, too, so treat it as a professional place of business- not the beach.

Only change money at a bank or hotel.
In many countries, you’ll see money changers literally everywhere, from kiosks at the airports, stalls in local markets, and even individual people hanging out on the street. Stay away! Only change money at legit and credible establishments like banks, your hotel (although you’ll get killed on the exchange rate) or the booths at airports. You’ll either get scammed, get robbed, or end up with counterfeit bills on the street.

It may be hard to get change big bills.
Another strange reality for us is that it’s often difficult – or impossible! – to get change for bill bills abroad. This makes sense when you think about it, as a humble local may not be equipped to give you change for a US $100 bill when that’s how much they make in an entire month! You’ll avoid a lot of awkward, unsolvable, or even potentially dangerous situations with taxi drivers, store clerks, vendors, etc. if you aren’t walking around with big bills and expect to get change. Instead, change your hundreds or big bills at the airport, your hotel, the bank or another high-end establishment, and savor those small bills!

Call your bank before you leave home.
There’s nothing worse than arriving at your vacation destination and going to use your bank card or credit card the very first day…only to find that it’s been shut down. In fact, when banks see that a cu stomer has initiated a transaction in a far-off country, suddenly has uncharacteristically, they are likely to flag the transaction as fraud – and lock up your card. Therefore always call your bank a week or two before you leave home and get on record that you’ll be traveling, with the dates, and the countries that you’ll be visiting.

They may still flag your card for fraud, but it will definitely help reduce the likelihood !

The worst U.S. bank for traveling abroad is…
That auspicious award goes to Wells Fargo, which has not only been proven to rip off plenty of customers at home but also to have terrible policies, customer service, and excessive fees for those who travel abroad. Stay away from Wells Fargo and try Charles Schwab Bank or Citibank instead!

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.