We often get asked about how to deal with money, local currency and tips while people are away on expeditions with us like Everest Base Camp, Kilimanjaro and Island Peak.
The first thing we'll say is this is how we recommend things. Others may have other views which is, of course, their view.
In most places like Nepal (Nepalese Rupee) and Tanzania (Tanzania Shilling) it's hard to get currency outside of that country. That means you're limited to currency exchanges or ATM's. For the actual exchange you'll generally need cash and for the ATM a card that a) let's you withdraw cash and b) you don't mind it potentially being cloned as that's a higher risk overseas.
Before the second world war the British Pound was the global currency and by that we mean it underpinned the worlds financial systems. The UK Government then used all of its gold reserves to pay for things like tanks and because it didn't have much money, the US Dollar took over.
What does this practically mean? It means that if you had a wad of US Dollars you'll be able to do a lot with it. We pay for expeditions in USD and we ask that tips be paid in USD, too.
That said, when you head away from the more commercial area's like capital cities you''ll need to pay in local currency. When you (e.g.) head to the Nepalese foothills you'll pay in rupees.
With all of this in mind we recommend two things.
1. Bring enough US Dollars for the tip and then maybe to change some in to local currency depending on your in-county requirements. The downside is when you run out, you run out, so you'll probably need a card also.
2. Bring a pre-paid card like Monzo with some cash on it and then you can withdraw from ATM's. You're then carrying less cash through airports. This is really simple but you do have to enable the "Magstripe" option because cash points overseas don't use the same technology as more commercial oriented countries.
You can use the below link to sign-up for a Monzo card and perhaps even receive a £5 credit -
We hope this helps smooth out your expedition and have more fun while you're away.
See you on the hill.
PS - Our CEO, Jason Rawles uses a Monzo card but other pre-paid cards are available.