I Need Dirham!

I called my bank (TD Bank) on Tuesday and I was leaving for Dubai on Thursday. I wanted to know if they had dirham in their safe. Dirham or AED is Dubai’s national currency. They told me they needed two days to get the dirham to me and it might not come in time. I started freaking out.

Ky Tip: If you plan ahead, your bank can order Dirhams/AED for you (for a small fee-no more than $7), give them at least 2-3 business days.

I googled currency in Dubai. I feared that I would be overcharged like I was in Europe. I read somewhere that I could take out from their ATM machines without an issue. That’s exactly what I did. My bank only charges me $3 for foreign transaction fees, so I just took out of their ATM machines whenever I needed money. The banks originating in Dubai/Abu Dhabi didn’t charge me an extra fee to take out money from their ATMs. However HSBC did, 100 Dirham which is equivalent to $29, please avoid them by all costs. I made the mistake of using HSBC when I first got there because it was a bank that I was familiar with, but I learned my lesson and avoided them after that.

Some of my travel partners brought USD with them and exchanged it at an exchange store, which is all over the Dubai Mall and the airport. This was also a reasonable option and it turns out they only charge a $2 service fee. Not bad. I was very impressed

Tip Efficiently

Drink and Beverage Service Charge

Food Service Charge

Service Fee

Some of these fees you will see on your bill at the end of a dinner. In the States we assume that these service charges are apart of the tip and will go directly to the server, however we soon learned these service fees go back into the restaurant and it’s always good to ask the waiter/waitress or bellboy if we could give them a tip directly. Some of them will get in trouble for tips and some will not. If anything this was my biggest regret in Dubai. I know all about the courtesy of tipping, I left dirhams for the housekeepers at our hotels with a note of gratitude for their service, however, my issue was that I didn’t know tip wasn’t included in the restaurant charges. There are tons of charges; I assumed one of them was for service.

Ky Tip: Google tipping courtesy before you visit any country especially Dubai. In Europe tip is included, in Dubai you just don’t really know.

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10 Overseas Travel Prep Tips

It’s officially summer folks, which means a lot of us are traveling. Having recently come back from an extensive overseas trip, I have some valuable tips that I want to share with you if you are planning on traveling this season:

1. Passport

Don’t forget your passport. This is probably the most important identification you will have for your trip. Make sure you allow enough time to get a new or renewed passport if need be.

2. Pack Light

With the hikes in baggage prices, avoid overpacking your bags.

3. Exchange your Money before you Leave

The exchange companies overseas will charge fees like you have never seen before. Please avoid them by all costs (pun intended). Also, get a list from your bank of their affiliations with any other bank in the country you are traveling to so you can easily retrieve money without high-cost fees and exchange rates.

4. Research

Do your research on any country you are visiting. I can’t emphasize this enough. A lot of countries all over the world operate differently from us in the United States. There are so many blogs, book stores, google maps, and review sites like Trip Advisor and travel agents out there that can assist with all the information you will need for your upcoming trip. Use these resources; it’s so vital.

5. Itinerary

Probably the most important piece of paper you will have is an itinerary or a breakdown of how your trip should go (even though a few changes may occur). Make sure to have a list of places you are visiting, dates, hotel names and addresses, phone numbers, confirmations, etc. Everything you will need to survive while out of the country should be included on this list.

6. Download Important Apps

There are amazing travel apps out there for smartphone users. On my recent trip to Europe, I downloaded “What’s App” as a means of texting and MagicJack to make international phone calls to my family for free. It’s amazing what you can discover on the App Store.

7. Know the basics

If you are traveling to a country that speaks a foreign language, know the basics words such as hello, good-bye, how much? Where’s the bathroom? So you can communicate with the locals

8. Maps of Train Systems

I think it’s very important to get familiar with different countries’ metro systems (before traveling) so you won’t get lost or overwhelmed. Also using the trains can help save money on otherwise expensive taxicabs.

9. Beware of Pickpockets and Robbers

It seems as if tourists have an invisible sign on their forehead which says “ROB ME.” Some people can spot a tourist from a mile away and with that being said, it’s always wise to be cautious of your belongings, your purse if you are a lady and your passport. You would never want an ideal vacation to go sour because something was stolen from you…what a nightmare.

10. Be Open-Minded

Indulging in another culture unlike your own could be frightening. However, you have to go into an experience wanting to take it to the fullest. Let your hair down and enjoy the lifestyle of foreign cultures. Try different foods, dance in the streets, sleep in, relax and just enjoy life. You never know what you will learn and you may also discover, people across the world are just like you in a lot of ways.

Kydee Williams

All About the Benjamin’s Baby!

 

Kydee Williams

So let’s talk about money. Back in 2013, I was told I could never plan a trip to Europe for under two thousand dollars. One of the things you have to understand about me is that you should never tell me what I can’t do because I am probably going to do it.

I talked to a professional travel agent who told me the same thing…Europe for two weeks cannot be planned for under two-thousand dollars. It was then I decided I could plan this whole trip without any help.

Ky Fact:

Consulting with a travel agent is something I suggest all first-time travelers do (even if you want to plan your own trip, see what they can show you). However, I used the advice and quotes of the travel agent competitively to find better prices than what they were giving me

Budget: The trip’s budget was that magic number I keep bringing up $2,000. However, it was a goal of mine to get that number down as much as possible. Now, we are all working women so between the time we booked and the time of the trip we were able to save up spending and food money for the actual trip which is not included in this budget.

What would our budget include?

  • Flights
  • Hotels
  • Intercontinental transportation

In total, out of my own money I didn’t spend more than $1450.

Savings

I honestly saved for this trip in about 3 months. It just meant not going out as much and cutting back on a lot of things like shopping, unnecessary spending, no gym, no frivolous spending while out…matter of fact I barely went out.

Money$ Money$ Money$

In total, I took 140 Euros with me. I didn’t have to take out British Pounds because my boss gave me some pounds he had leftover from his many trips. That helped me out a lot.

Ky Tips: 

  • Exchange your money before you leave. I went to my bank which is TD Bank and they only charged me $7 to make the exchange.
  • Get a list from your bank of the banks overseas that they are affiliated with so you won’t be charged a fee to take money out of the ATM.
  • Call your credit card/debit card/bank company and tell them you will be overseas and let them know where you are going so no funny business happens to your card while you’re away. When I say funny business, I mean your bank assuming that your card was stolen because of the international charges.
  • Currency Exchange: BEWARE! Please avoid these booths at all costs. They are crooks. I did end up needing some Euros while in Italy in which I had $100 cash on me that I wanted to exchange. I went to the booth desperate because I couldn’t find an ATM affiliated with my bank and they literally gave me back 49.50 EUR in return. I hate telling this story because I’ve never been so ANGRY in my life, however, I want you guys to learn from my poor mistakes. An ATM is way better than a currency exchange.
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