The Itinerant Foodie

eat, sleep, and travel

Money and Finance while travelling

2 November 2019
Travel Bitcoin finance defi

Avoid ATM fees while on the road (and how not to be a shitty begpacker

You need money to travel respectfully.

So how can you obtain cash when you’re on the road. The obvious answer is to bring it but maybe your trip ended up being longer than expected and you need more.

So how do you get more. Obviously ATMs, however theres a big catch. Your card must be visa/mastercard (except China, where visa/mastercard may not even work).

ATM fees - It’s something familiar for travelers or digital nomads have to come to grips with at some point. But how do you solve this problem if you’re constantly on the move. The banks certainly will not help (as you’re making them money.. why change that?)

However, it can be avoided in countries where cash is king - and a good percentage of the population do not have bank accounts.

The countries where this method works is:

  • Philippines (Tried and tested. Cash pickup)
  • Thailand (Tried and tested. Cash pickup as well as domestic bank transfers)
  • Vietnam (Cash pickup but rates might be a bit high so better to use as a backup)
  • China. If you have a wechat pay account, you may use some online services to add credit. Or sell bitcoin for credit.

So what are these options?

  • For Thailand, you have either if you have bitcoin OR if you have a US or EUR bank account or have access to USDC which is a tokenized version of the US dollar backed by regulated financial institions.
  • For Phillipines you have
  • For vietname you have bitcoinvn if you have bitcoin.
  • For China, you can use a service called to fund your WeChat account via any credit cards or bitcoin.

So how does one get bitcoin?

The best way to acquire bitcoin is by looking up sellers on HODLHODL and then transfering your cash to them. The site is quite safe with a rating and escrow system. You may also try to use BISQ too.

Another way is to find exchanges in your country too, and sign up for them. But opening an account at an exchange will be similar or worst than opening a bank account in terms of documentation and paperwork.

Is there any other methods other than bitcoin?

One of my other go-to cards I love using is Revolut. A nifty feature I like is your card can be shipped anywhere in the world, so if you are long term travelling and need a replacement card you can easily acquire one. It is only available to Europe / UK / Australia / Singapore / Canadian citizens and residents though.

Another method is to try with a local bank account. For Europe, a nice card to use is N26. All you need is a Europe phone number (which you can change later to anything), a passport, and an address in Europe to ship to (your Airbnb will work). N26 gives you a full featured IBAN account and support is quite helpful too.

For South East Asia, Bangkok Bank and Kasikorn bank is quite friendly for foreigners (even tourists to open). If you want the best chances, go to the Head office in Bangkok to do so. The requirements to open an account is clearly listed on their website. Or if you have a friend who works at the bank, the requirements doesn’t even matter.

For Thailand and Myanmar in general, you can actually make use of everex which allows for cash pickups or deliveries. This assumes you have a US or EUR bank account though.


For the best chances, I recommend that every traveller has a small stash of bitcoin to use in an emergency which is less tempting than having a small stash of cash (you should have both!).

It can save your ass when you’re stuck with no working ATM card or cash and you don’t have to resort to begpacking.

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I write codes, I am passionate about usability / user interaction ), I travel (alot), I snapchat 👻 (alot), and I blog (sometimes) [Read More]