What should I do with leftover foreign currency?

As anyone who has been to a few far-flung destinations knows all too well, one of the most awkward aspects of traveling is managing your finances. Knowing how much money to bring is always going to be a tricky issue to get right, but it is complicated even more when you add foreign currency to the mix. Whether it’s the Polish Złoty or the Russian Ruble, keeping track of your finances is no simple matter when using a foreign currency.

And sometimes, regardless of how well you have budgeted, planned out your expenses, and taken the time to do your research on the current exchange rates, there is nothing you can do to avoid having a bit of foreign currency leftover. Sometimes you get lucky and realize this as you are making your way through the duty-free shop in the departure gate, making it a no-brainer what to spend your money on! Unfortunately, this is not always the case. And more often than not, you won’t realize how much foreign currency you have until you unpack your suitcase!

But is blowing the last of your foreign currency in the duty-free the only option you have available or are there better uses for your leftover foreign currency?

Get charitable!

One of the easiest and most philanthropic ways of dealing with leftover foreign currency is simply to donate it. Although you might not have thought about it, donating your leftover cash is a great way to avoid wasting it on pointless souvenirs. If you have fallen in love with the local area you have been visiting, it is a great way to contribute to a local charity of your choice. If you are prepared, you can select a local charity in the city before you leave and make a donation that way. But if not, there are always donation boxes in the airport you can use as a last resort. If you have ever wondered what the large glass boxes full of random assortments of foreign currency in the airport are, this is precisely what they were designed for! You will usually be able to find one of them in the departure gates. Additionally, several airlines will accept spare currency donations through partner charities in flight, such as UNICEF.

Convert it – but play the seller’s game!

The most obvious way to deal with your spare foreign currency is to convert it back to your home currency. Usually, that is done through a bank, but there are also some dedicated foreign currency exchange services you can use. However, nothing is stopping you from waiting for the prices to swing in your favor to exchange it. Currency prices fluctuate on an ongoing basis, so be sure to time your exchange right so you don’t lose money!

Save it for next time

A final option, and arguably the most preferable, is to simply save it for next time! If you enjoyed your time in a particular country, why not keep it for the next time you travel there? That is an excellent way of incentivizing yourself into another vacation in the near future – as if you need an excuse!