March 01, 2019
Travel money and IT.
If I were reading someone else’s travel blog I would be interested in listening (well reading actually!)..about the best way to pay bills and the most efficient way to stay online. Well…we have no idea of the best or cheapest but can only explain what worked (or not) for us.
Getting online was occasionally tricky across the countries we visited. The important element to this was the purchase for about £40 of a HUAWEI E5573 mobile WiFi box before leaving home. (Other makes are available!)
Small and fits in your pocket. You just put a data SIM card inside and use it in that country. So..on arrival in a new country buy a SIM card either at the airport or in shops/malls etc. Pop the card in and either allow the supplier to activate it online or sometimes it just works (don’t understand the detail..). The benefit of this mobile WiFi (MiFi) is that it can be used for several devices. On many occasions we had three mobile phones and three iPads all working from this box being used a WiFi .. AND our mobile phones still contained our original home SIM cards. Useful in the event of someone trying to contact you in an emergency etc. Coverage was pretty impressive.
We struggled for several days in NZ as we initially paid for a reasonable package SIM card with Vodafone only to have to pay loads to top up (£10 for 1GB..!) when this ran out. Bearing in mind three of us were surfing the net several times a day, searching for hotels/flights and blogging it was not a surprise we sometimes ran out.
Prices varied from the above mentioned Vodafone rip-off to an amazing unlimited data for £5 (150000 Dong) a month in Vietnam. Overall coverage was extremely good and we are even considering if we can use it at home instead of our WiFi router…..! Who knows..???
Alternatively you could put the SIM card into your own mobile phone and then switch on the ‘Personal Hotspot’ in ‘Settings’ so your mates can ‘piggy back’ on that. We much preferred the HUAWEI option which worked really well for us.
To be honest we also used public WiFi at airports/restaurants/bars/hotels regularly without problem on numerous occasions. The quality varied a lot as it does at home.
The mainstay of our finance was the incredible Revolute Card. (Other banks are available!).
This is Michelle’s area of expertise but once you have the card it works really easy. We Mrs BB) Googled – Revolute! Application dead easy – have a real card sent in the post and an app to download. On the Revolute App you link this to your home bank account. You can transfer money electronically anytime, anywhere, when online into this account. You are then able to transfer this pot of £ pounds into any one of several currencies. NZ$… Aus$…Thai Baht… (24 currencies in all) but not Vietnam Dong and several others. There is no transaction fee to transfer this money and it’s instant. We have amused ourselves on many occasions as you can watch the exchange rate change ‘live’ as you are setting it up. We try to hit the transfer button at the right time to improve our exchanged amount by as much as 15 pence..!
This card can then be used as a cash card in all areas where one would normally pay by card. We used it extensively, every day in every country even for small amounts. Corner shops in Thailand and Vietnam take cards. Again, there is no fee to use it AND the exchange rate is always much better than you may get in that supermarket/Grab taxi/hotel bill. Provided the account is charged up when online, it will pay the bill, (even when offline).
You can also visit any ATM and withdraw cash. If, for instance, you only have NZ$200 in that pot you can still pay a bill exceeding this providing you have £ in the £ pot.
You can freeze the card or lock certain elements whilst online too. Several times we messed up initially by locking the ‘use online’ element and having the transaction blocked until we ticked the right box. Probably our (Michelle’s) best decision prior to leaving. We did the whole trip, even in the remotest of areas using Revolute and cash (withdrawn from Revolute).. Highly recommended.
Soooo…How much did it all cost? Not normally the kind of information shared but I would be curious as an outsider… We are not going to scare ourselves by counting in detail…but we think that it was a little over £10,000 (wish that was Dong not ££..! ). But when you think the motorhome hire was approx £4500 for 18 days alone that makes it seem more reasonable. Worth every penny we say. The memory will last much longer than our overdraft….!
Incidentally diesel cost about 80p a litre in NZ. Petrol cost about 57p a litre in Vietnam…
Now it’s about time to get back to earning £££. Photography jobs start tomorrow and police stuff on the 10th. Bring it on..
Thank you for watching…It’s a goodnight from me and a goodnight from Mich..
Did you know…the distance from
Portishead to Bangkok is..6030 miles
Bangkok to Phuket is..430
Phuket to Koala Jumper (!) is…400
Kuala Lumpur to Singapore is…200
Singapore to Perth is..2430
Perth to Fiji is..4000
Fiji to Auckland is..1300
Auckland to Christchurch is..475
Christchurch to Ho Chi Minh is..4900
Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang is..1120
Surprisingly Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh is..1120
Ho Chi Minh to Dubai is..3560
Dubai to Portishead is…3510
And who knows…..Portishead to Montreal is….3140… !