Better safe and broke than sorry but ballin’?
By Morgan Hannah, Life & Style Editor
Before even setting foot in the Vancouver Airport to take off on my first adventure outside of North America, I ran into two pricey problems—shots and cold hard cash.
I’m not talking alcoholic shots but rather vaccinations. Some places in the world require you to have certain shots to gain entry, some places you just feel better having immunizations against threats like unclean water or airborne diseases. Indonesia was a pretty easy-going first pick for my travels but that didn’t take away from the fact that I had to get a vaccination for the first time. Up until I sat in that leather clinic chair with a cold needle in my arm I had lived a vaccination-free life. What’s more, the health clinic and my dad must have been in cahoots—they both wanted me to grab every vaccine under the sun! I tried my best, I really did—who am I to argue with the experiences of my seasoned traveller of a father and the health clinic? Yet, when those shots end up costing more than the trip itself, one really must draw the line right? Well, I didn’t. Vaccinations are just another service and they’re all gung-ho to rack up a bigger bill out of you, their customer.
While the Canadian Dollar is strong in Indonesia (One Canadian dollar is equal to approximately 10,000 Indonesian Rupiah), it is still useless as no-one, but the exchange booths will take it. When preparing for my trip, I left currency exchanging until too late and thought my best move would be to convert and withdraw some American money (seeing as how the USD is accepted in a lot of places). What I didn’t expect is that currency exchange booths are growing out of every corner of every island. These people really want your money, they’ll make it easy for you.
That’s not to say that every place in the world you visit will be like Indonesia; it’s better to be safe than sorry, but if you happen to be like me and leave something as important as money to the last minute, you don’t need to make a mad dash to the bank before they close to pull out those American dollars, your Canada bucks will serve you just as well. You’ll also save yourself some exchange fees by only converting to one foreign currency rather than two or more!
In hindsight Indonesia, specifically the heart of Bali and the Gili Islands, were so Americanized and prepared for tourists that the thousands of dollars in injectable precautions and the less inflated but still unnecessary banking fees I endured seemed just that—unnecessary. Especially when my travel companions got the acclaimed “Bali Belly” (also known as traveller’s diarrhea) and reported it wasn’t that bad.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it wasn’t a good idea to grab all those shots, especially since Twinrix, Polio, and Rabies are lifelong investments—once you are inoculated, you are practically immortal. What I am saying is that I may not have needed them all at the same time. I should’ve thought for myself, done more research, and only bought what I needed for my particular trip.
Everyone always says hindsight is 20/20, and boy are they right. In hindsight, I’d have liked to change a couple of things that happened over the course of my first trip outside North America, but I wouldn’t change the trip itself.