I have been thinking about this post for a while. Since it is so large, I will probably split into several different blogs in order to give the topic the attention it deserves.
First is cash.
Now, I am by no means a major world traveler, but I have been travelling overseas for over 30 years and have some stories to tell. Bullets for this topic:
Get some local currency, if possible, before your trip. You can always get some cash at the airport, and from my experience, this can be as expensive as your local bank with fees and exchange rates. But do try to have some local currency in your pocket. Sometimes I have some money left over from a previous trip and can use that.
Know the current exchange rate. I round that figure so I can do some basic conversions in my head. For web access try http://www.xe.com/. And get an app for your phone. And understand the rate both to US Dollars (in my case) and from it. So right now, as I write this, $1 US is equal to 0.804 Euros, and one Euro is good for 1.242 US Dollar. It will likely be different next week.
If you are someplace that uses US dollars, remember the costs of things can be higher or lower than back home. So you might not be able to buy from the dollar menu from the local McDonald's.
And some places will take US dollars even if they have there own currency. Your change may be in the local currency, and in some places you can get dollars back. If you have a choice, think ahead on how much cash you may need and how easy or costly it might be to get more. I will write about getting cash and other spending issues at a later post.
At the end of the trip, if you have local currency, you can spend it as extra tips, donate to a local charity, spend it at the airport, and/or throw into you luggage for your next trip to that destination.
Finally, some places you might be counting the costs to make sure you have enough through your trip without breaking the bank. Other places, you may be living like royalty due to the lower cost of living. In either case, with some careful planning you can enjoy the trip and not worry too much about money.