travelling with bitcoins
SHARE
← Back to articles
SHARE

Everything You Need to Know About Travelling with Bitcoins

July 22, 2016 2:28 am Published by

Every day, more people travel with bitcoins. There are big advantages to including bitcoins in your travel plans. For example, it is safer to carry bitcoins than to carry cash, especially if you bring a large amount of money or if you’re travelling to a country with higher crime rates. Bitcoin is easy to exchange to major local currencies — perfect if you plan to travel to multiple countries and wish to avoid the hassle of exchanging money. The Bitcoin Traveler does just this. He details his around-the-world, 365-days travel in his blog.

Here is everything you need to know about travelling with bitcoins, from what you need to get started, to renting accommodations, to booking flights.

What You Need

A secure bitcoin wallet provider. Your bitcoin wallet provider needs to satisfy the following requirements: 2-factor authentication, multi-signature technology, use of PINs, email confirmations and 24/7 support. Using a provider that comes with a companion app that you can install on your smartphone is extremely handy as well.

A smartphone with an internet connection. Install the wallet provider’s app and your bitcoins will be easily accessible to you at all times. You can also use it to search for local businesses that accept bitcoins in the country where you’re travelling.

A LocalBitcoins account. This enables you to sell your bitcoins locally, in exchange for local currencies. Beware of scammers, though! Always conduct bitcoin sales in safe public places. Bear in mind that this option may not be the fastest, nor the most convenient option. You’ll have to arrange in advance to meet the seller. This is a good option if you’re planning to stay in a country for a longer time.

A few bitcoin debit cards in multiple currencies. If you prefer convenience and have no time to sell your bitcoins, get at least one chip-and-PIN bitcoin debit card. They usually come in one currency (e.g., USD-denominated cards), so having multiple cards (one each in GBP and EUR, for example) can be handy for avoiding foreign transaction fees. Bitcoin cards are linked to payment processors such as Visa, which are accepted in many locations. If you’re going to cash-based countries, you can also use them to convert bitcoins to cash in local currencies and withdraw fiat from ATMs.

Strong digital security. Last but not least, take the time to secure your accounts and minimise the risk of bitcoin theft. Set up 2-factor authentication (for your email as well), generate strong passwords for your accounts (preferably with a password manager), and keep your bitcoin debit card PIN information secure. Set your accounts to send an instant notification whenever a purchase or transfer is made. (Better yet, use accounts that allow you to manually approve transactions, so you can check every single one.)

There are many bitcoin wallet and bitcoin debit card providers to choose from. Wirex satisfies all of the above requirements (and comes with a free virtual card to boot, which you can use to buy products and services online). You may also get a plastic Visa for offline use (available for selected countries).

Now let’s go on to the best part — how to use bitcoins when travelling.

Booking Accommodations

Paying with bitcoins. Search for accommodations and pay for them with bitcoins at BTCTrip, Hotelgo24, 9flats and Destinia. Expedia accepts bitcoins as well, however, users report conflicting experiences. Individual establishments and companies may also accept bitcoin for payment. See this Hotels and Travel section from SpendBitcoins.com and this page on Bitcoin.travel. It’s also worth asking the establishment whether they accept bitcoin — they may accept it from you!

Paying with a bitcoin debit card. If you prefer other service providers that don’t accept bitcoins, pay with your Visa-linked bitcoin debit card. The company may ask for further information before processing your payment. Check with the respective service providers.

Paying in local currencies. If the establishment doesn’t accept the above methods, sell your bitcoins (through LocalBitcoins) or withdraw your money from ATMs with the help of bitcoin debit cards.

Booking Flights and Transportation

Paying with bitcoins. CheapAir, BTCTrip, Destinia and AirBaltic allow you to book flights using bitcoin. You can also book flights through Expedia, however be wary of users’ conflicting reports. Individual companies may also accept bitcoin for payment. See this Hotel and Travel section from SpendBitcoins.com and this page on Bitcoin.travel

Paying with a bitcoin debit card. If you prefer other service providers that don’t accept bitcoins for payment, you can pay with your Visa-linked bitcoin debit card. The company may ask for further information before processing your payment. Check with the respective service providers.

Paying in local currencies. If the establishment doesn’t accept the above methods, sell your bitcoins (through LocalBitcoins) or withdraw your money from ATMs with the help of bitcoin debit cards.

Purchasing Food, Drinks and Entertainment

Paying with bitcoins. It’s highly dependent on the country you visit, but some countries, such as Germany and Taiwan, have higher bitcoin merchant adoption rates and are more tourist friendly to the bitcoin user. Bitcoin.com lists Estonia, the United States, Denmark, Sweden, South Korea, the Netherlands, Finland, Canada, the UK and Australia as bitcoin-friendly countries. You can also check SpendBitcoins, Bitcoin.travel and Coinmap. These websites list bitcoin-accepting merchants in different countries. Ask the owner or manager, too, whether they accept bitcoin — who knows!

Paying with a bitcoin debit card. If you prefer other service providers that don’t accept bitcoins for payment, pay with your Visa-linked bitcoin debit card.

Paying in local currencies. If the establishment doesn’t accept the above methods, sell your bitcoins (through LocalBitcoins) or withdraw your money from ATMs with the help of bitcoin debit cards.

Bitcoin Traveller Examples

The business traveller. The business traveller values convenience and speed. Usually a frequent traveller, he or she can save time with bitcoin by eliminating the hassle of money exchange.

Recommended tools: Visa-linked bitcoin debit cards in multiple currencies. Holding cards in more than one currency helps the business traveller convert bitcoin on the go to the currencies of his or her choice.

The backpacker. This person values cost and accessibility. Usually a multi-country hopper, the backpacker might be interested in bitcoin-only discounts offered by selected merchants, as well as the ease of exchanging bitcoin to local currencies.

Recommended tools: LocalBitcoins and bitcoin debit cards — depending on the length of stay in the country.

The international student. The international student values speed and cost. Often, self-funded international students depend on international money transfers sent by families or guardians (usually on a quarterly or half-yearly basis). These transfers can be costly as well as slow. Using bitcoin may be advantageous, as bitcoin transfers are much speedier and cheaper.

Recommended tools: A bitcoin wallet, preferably with BitGo Instant integration for near-instant transfers.

The expat. The expat also values speed and cost. Migrating to another country usually comes with many financial-related chores, such as opening new bank accounts and making money transfers. With bitcoin, the expat can carry large sums of money into his or her new country and convert them locally.

Recommended tools: LocalBitcoins and bitcoin debit cards. While waiting to sort out financial matters, and during the settling-in period, the expat can pay for expenses via these tools.

 

The 8 Rules of Bitcoin Club

Based on the popular movie ‘Fight Club’ starring Brad Pitt, we thought it would be fun to introduce the rules for the Bitcoin Club. 1st RULE: You own at least SOME bitcoin at all times. 2nd RULE: You own at least some bitcoin at ALL times. 3rd RULE: Only sell bitcoin because you want to… View Article

Why 2FA Security Is Vital For Your Wirex Account

For as long as we can remember, we’ve used passwords to access everything. We have passwords for our social media accounts, our emails, our online banking. It can be hard remembering all of these different passwords. And whether we like to admit it or not, sometimes our passwords are not the most complex. We often… View Article

A Bigger Wirex Means Better Exchange Rates For You — Introducing The W-Pay Liquidity Pool

If you’re familiar with bitcoin exchanges you’ll know the price of bitcoin is different on every exchange with constant price fluctuations based on market volatility, supply and demand. When one bit of bad news lands (usually from China), bitcoin drops like a rock… for a day or two, and then continues its rise to the… View Article

Cryptogression, Life Obsession & Personal Confession

“OMG YOLO” said the Millennial. “Waaaasup” said the Toad. But then…”HODL”, said my colleagues… Several Months Earlier…the journey begins It’s my first day at Wirex as the new CRM Campaign manager. Let’s be clear, at this point I knew that Bitcoin existed, and this is where my knowledge ended. In my first few weeks, my focus was… View Article