What does a gang of four girls, consumed by wanderlust, have in common? A bucket list with “a trip with the girls” right on top. As much as I wanted to travel solo, I couldn’t deny that travelling with my girls only meant 4x the fun, 4x the adventure and 4x the drama (the good kind of course!). Over the years, we’d spent countless sleepovers dreaming about a multi-country trip. And as we got busy with work and life, a trip like that was somehow put on the backburner.
“Out of our group of four, only two (Sharanya and me) were carrying Forex Cards while the other two (Meher and Zoya) were carrying cash and Traveller’s Cheque.”
But last summer revived the hopes of our Promised Land. Refusing to swallow the ‘busy pill’ any longer, we set out to visit Bangkok, Singapore, Lantau Island (Hong Kong), Macau and Tokyo on a month-long trip. But in the rush of our excitement, we missed out on an important financial detail. Out of our group of four, only two (Sharanya and me) were carrying Forex Cards while the other two (Meher and Zoya) were carrying cash and Traveller’s Cheque. Had we discussed this earlier, we could have persuaded them to get a Forex Card, given its many benefits (which the girls would inevitably discover later on the trip). Even if we’d thought of this just four days ahead of the trip, it would have worked – you can get a Forex Card within 72 hours of applying.
“Since Forex Cards are readily accepted across 28 million merchants worldwide, we used it for almost all sorts of purchases, from paying hotel bills to shopping at local stores.”
Sharanya and I were carrying Multi-Currency Forex Cards since we were travelling to four different countries. This really came handy, especially in Macau where Hong Kong Dollars are used for most transactions, despite Macanese Pataca being the official currency. Moreover, since Forex Cards are readily accepted across 28 million merchants worldwide, we used it for almost all sorts of purchases, from paying hotel bills to shopping at local stores.
But Meher and Zoya were kind of having a hard time. The dynamic exchange rates for every transaction began to cost Meher an arm and a leg. Likewise, Zoya was finding it really troublesome to coax merchants into accepting Traveller’s Cheque. And in case any of them declined (which many did), we had to search for a local bank on Google Maps to exchange the Cheque for local currency. The fees charged by the banks for this exchange was another nuisance. In a nutshell, both were literally breaking their banks on account of the heavy conversion and transaction fees.
“Amidst our shopping spree in Ginza, Tokyo, Meher and Zoya ran out of finances. Sharanya and I agreed to pay on their behalf using our Forex Cards.”
And just when it seemed that our situation couldn’t get any worse, we found ourselves tossed out of the frying pan and into the fire. Amidst our shopping spree in Ginza, Tokyo, Meher and Zoya ran out of finances. Sharanya and I agreed to pay on their behalf using our Forex Cards as there was no way for them to arrange more funds at the time. This unforeseen event, while making us rethink our overindulgence in shopping, was actually the precursor to more troubles.
“Here we were, in the middle of a plush Tokyo neighbourhood, with not a penny to our names. To top it all, what awaited us were two more days of the tour and a flight back home.”
Three or four transactions later, Sharanya’s and my Forex Cards were also declined due to a shortage of funds. And that’s when I started losing my composure – here we were, in the middle of a plush Tokyo neighbourhood, with not a penny to our names. To top it all, what awaited us were two more days of the tour and a flight back home. That evening, we retired to our hotel rooms in sullen silence and discussed the issue over a frugal dinner (yes, our situation was actually that bad). I was afraid to call my Dad as my situation was a direct consequence of not heeding his warnings. Meanwhile, gripped by panic as I was, whatever Dad explained about the Forex Card had completely slipped my mind. Did I mention that Sharanya and I were first-time overseas travellers?
“When we were almost at our wit’s end, my father’s words rang in my ears, ‘Honey, if you do run out of money, steer clear of panic mode, simply remember easy reload.’ This was the moment of epiphany!”
Suddenly, when we were almost at our wit’s end, my father’s words rang in my ears, “Honey, if you do run out of money, steer clear of panic mode, simply remember Instareload.” This was the moment of epiphany! Of course, I’d missed this important piece of information. Once I’d had my Eureka moment, we effortlessly reloaded our Forex Cards online using the Instareload feature and put our worries (and ourselves) to rest. By the time we woke up the next morning, our Forex Cards had been successfully loaded with enough funds to sustain us for the rest of our trip. We safely returned to Mumbai, where we later encashed our balance amounts.
“Mission ‘Girls’ World Tour’ had finally been accomplished, thanks to the constant support of our right-hand man – the Forex Card.”
On a final note, I must aver that all’s well that ends well. Mission ‘Girls’ World Tour’ (ahem… even if it wasn’t really a world tour, it had all the trappings of one – including dramatic highs and lows!) had finally been accomplished, thanks to the constant support of our right-hand man – the Forex Card. And I can bet my bottom dollar that for Meher and Zoya, the takeaway from this tour has been to carry one the next time they travel abroad!