Funny Money


Funny Money


There comes a time in life that throws you a curve ball. At that moment, the feelings of dread can be quite daunting. Honestly, have you ever d

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There comes a time in life that throws you a curve ball. At that moment, the feelings of dread can be quite daunting.

Honestly, have you ever done something so stupid that you wish you could step back in time to fix it? A mistake that could cost you sleep and hunger? If not, I did, and it was such a rookie mistake that I will always double-check to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I’m talking about remembering to change your money. Converting it into the proper currency for the region you are going to. Yes, I did it. I forgot to exchange my money from Pounds Sterling to Euros. Now, sometimes this isn’t an issue, because you can at times be in the right city that has exchange booths open late at night. But what happens when you land in a place (via hitchhiking or other means) where the only thing open is a Hostel or Hotel? There are no exchange machines or people to help you. No matter how much you beg the lady at the Hostel, she won’t accept US Dollars or Pounds (mind you, this scenario is if you are not traveling with a credit card).

Yep, you got it. You’re stuck to sleep wherever you can for that night. You have all the money in the world, but it won’t do you any good if you don’t have the proper currency. This happened to me when I landed in Ghent, Belgium, and I had no Euros. I should have exchanged a bit while I was still in London. Oops, such is life and there is not much you can do about it. I ended up sleeping in the lobby of the Hostel that night (in a not-so-comfy armchair) because the lady had pity on me. Very adventurous.

What was worse? It was the weekend and an exchange bank wouldn’t be open until Monday morning. I had no food or shelter or means of getting out of there. I needed to eat and get the hell out of Ghent and on to Antwerp, a nice large city that I knew would have an exchange bank. I did the only thing I could think of, I called home. Sometimes it’s your only out, and you have to rely on the people you love to bail you out. I made a call from a Western Union (these are everywhere and open all the time thank goodness) the next day and my father wired me $50 which came out to 36 Euros. This would feed me and get me the heck out of this town.

And so it did. I went to the train station and bought a ticket for 8 Euros straight to Antwerp, the Diamond capital of the world. I arrived in about 40 minutes and immediately exchanged $500 for Euros. Simple to do once you’re in the right town that doesn’t close up for the whole weekend.

So, please don’t make my mistake. It might seem very simple, but it can be forgotten. It was careless and the ultimate rookie traveler mistake, but don’t get stuck without local currency. You might get lucky and find someone that will accept your green peso but don’t count on it.

This isn’t one of those times, among many, where I had to take one of my weekend breaks, and got all messed with my travel plans. Heck, that happens to me so frequently that I can barely tell anymore when it is not going to end up being the result of a quick trip. But still funny anyway, I think, don’t you?