if you can't find a donation box at the airport, there's a new service called Travelersbox that turns your change into gift cards. YMMV.
Since I mostly have traveled to EU countries and Mexico, I just keep the extra money. That way, I assume I will be returning.
However, this is nice to know for the future left-over money. Thanks!
One of the advantages to careful planning and tracking your expenses as you go is that you don't have a lot of leftover currency.
We try to come home with at least 100 E for the next trip. Unload most of the coins in the airport prior to leaving. What is left is just used for the next trip. And I am sure there are fees involved. Nothing is free.
BA always asks for the change for a charity they support...the name of the charity escapes me at the moment. I try to reduce my left over money to nothing if it is a single country currency.
When I return from Europe I try to have about 100 euros in my wallet as seed money for the next trip. It also allows me to "gift" people who are taking their first trip, i.e., most recently, my friend's daughter who was doing a semester abroad in Spain and another friend who was off for 2 months in Italy on her own.
For me, it's a win-win either way!
I ration my cash the last day or two of a trip--getting to the airport with maybe 20 Euros.
One trip to McDonalds for breakfast in the airport will take virtually all of that.
We never come home with more than a couple of bucks.
We all struggle with trying to rid ourselves of the last bit of foreign currency. As i cannot always find charity boxes at airports injust save it all and when i am at my home international airport i try to cash it in at the foreign exchange bank there. Yes it is a pain but there is no way to really come home with no foreign cash at all. I still have portuguese escudos and Greek dragmas from a very long time ago.
Like some others here.. I don't struggle at all to get rid of my foreign currency.. but like to have some for next trip.
I donate the coins .. at airport.. but have also done so on flights.
For those always traveling within the eurozone and never considering otherwise, stop reading now and keep those euro for the next trip. For those making a once in a lifetime trip to Europe or departing from trips where airports are not within the eurozone, read on. When approaching the return to home date, I carefully manage withdrawals from ATMs by using a no foreign transaction fee debit card. With a combination of cash in hand and no foreign transaction fee credit card (could use the debit card if so inclined), pay the last hotel bill yet retaining enough cash to support final transportation, food, etc. expenses. At the airport, utilize the last bits to buy things such as drinks, snacks and reading materials. If you have small denomination coins left, donate to a charity bin at the airport, give to the kids, relatives or stash with your trip materials as travel keepsakes. There’s no need for a build-up of anxiety in advance of managing forints, kronor, leva and the like.
Leftovers, what are leftovers? ;-)
Until I get too old or feeble to travel, I will continue to keep whatever remaining Euros or Pounds I have in my pocket for my next trip. Doing so eliminates that panic of stepping off the plane with no local cash to cover things until I can find an ATM. I have also sold to friends and coworkers at the current Google rate when they were leaving for Europe. Saves both of us money since they are not paying an inflated exchange rate or fee to get a few bills and I am not losing anything by selling to a bank or currency exchange at a ridiculously poor rate (from my end of the transaction).
While the linked article states the process does not charge a fee, no mention of what rate is used to do the exchange. I would be very wary of this unless I had a huge amount of coin to get rid of and I was sure I would not be returning to that area (banks and currency exchanges don't accept coins for exchange so you are stuck with them).
Just don't get too clever and get rid of all your currency too soon. Suppose your flight is delayed? Or cancelled? Or you want to buy something on the plane, will they take dollars or euros? But I guess onboard is now shifting over to credit only.
I'm pretty good at spending my cash down to leave me enough to buy food and water at the airport, with perhaps the equivalent of $20 US or so leftover. I don't mind having leftover euros or pounds, but it may be years before I return to Poland and perhaps never to the Czech republic and in the meantime they may start using the euro. My leftover forints will be a nice start to my return to Hungary next May.
When we left Poland years ago, mid-1980s, we kept enough złoty to get us from the airport into town and maybe buy a meal. Well, I understand that within a couple of years, the 1000 or so złoty I carefully saved might have bought a postage stamp or a cup of coffee. The best laid plans... But we still keep enough euros or pounds to get us from the airport to the hotel, and maybe buy a meal. Always the optimists!
Coins are money, too, and I like to have a few of them on hand, as well as other cash, for the next trip. I come back with 30-100€ which is enough to get me to my first hotel so I don't have to find an ATM when I am sleep-deprived AND mathematically challenged.
It's called chocolate! I've also bought small toiletries and magazines at the Boots & newsstand at Heathrow. Again, this is if you just have a bit leftover that's not worth exchanging.
And as was said....sometimes that flight's delayed and you'll wish you had those coins to buy a bag of crisps or a cup of coffee! :)
Like Mark, I've sold leftovers to friends when I didn't anticipate being able to use them. Leftover Sterling came in very useful on a port stop in the Shetlands on a cruise. On an tour of Ireland, it was nice to have some of that leftover Sterling on the first pit stop in Northern Ireland, before I had a chance to visit an ATM.
At the end of my Turkey tour, I got rid of all my leftover liras at the airport. Within a year, I flew twice through Istanbul on Turkish Air (4 layovers), and wished I'd had liras. I never found an ATM airside and so got gouged with on drinks and snacks - the machines only take local currency and the kiosks and cafes are much more expensive - plus the lousy exchange rate.
In the past, my goal was to return home with zero foreign currency. I tracked my spending over the final days and used the rest for souvenirs or snacks at the airport. Now I just save it for my next trip!
When we arrived back in Cincinnati, there was a kiosk with a bank representative (5th 3rd maybe?) right after we went through customs and they exchanged our bills - no fees and at a fair exchange rate. They would not exchange coins, so we saved or gave as "souvenirs" to kids back home.
Yep, nobody wants coins back.
However, when you're changing into euros, they will give them to you. Odd.
Well, I also save the coins -- at least the €0.5 coins needed for toilets. That's something you may need in the first airport of the next trip, and when you gotta go ...
One Word, Three Syllables: Toberlone.
Yes!! Nobody ever asks "what to do with that pesky leftover chocolate!"
At one point I ended up with way too many coins, from different European and African countries. I sorted it all out, bought plastic containers with dividers, and gifted a selection to each of the kids in my family who were interested.
They loved them!
Beth, what a great idea!
Beth, yes, great idea. I find that kids (and even adults) find foreign currency interesting, especially those that haven't traveled. Of the souvenirs I've kept over the years, it's the foreign currency I prize most....next to my photos.
I was actually keeping it all for myself as souvenirs! But I realized at the point that I had a Mason jar-sized collection, it was a bit much. Sorting out the coins was fun, and I hope I seeded the kids (including my niece) with the travel bug!
In the future, I'll probably take some of the suggestions above: donate the money or invest in chocolate for the flight home. Paper money is saved for future travel.
Our 20 yr old daughter already figured this out. We tried to get her to give us her leftover Euros from our trip in the summer of 2015 and she refused, saying she was keeping them for her next trip.
Cala, you brought your daughter up well. Perhaps if you promise to bring back some euro for your daughter, she will loan you enough of her stash to get you to your first hotel?
There are ETBD travel groups all over the country. Go to one of these groups and peddle your leftover currency to someone whose going over there soon.