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 payment cards in multiple currencies. If you prefer convenience and have no time to sell your bitcoins, get at least one chip-and-PIN payment 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. Payment 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 minimize 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 payment 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 payment 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  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 Wirex card. If you prefer other service providers that don’t accept bitcoins, pay with your Wirex 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 payment 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 Wirex card. If you prefer other service providers that don’t accept bitcoins for payment, you can pay with your payment 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 payment 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 Wirex card. If you prefer other service providers that don’t accept bitcoins for payment, pay with your Visa-linked payment 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 payment 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: payment 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 payment 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 payment cards. While waiting to sort out financial matters, and during the settling-in period, the expat can pay for expenses via these tools.

 

HODL
Why You Should HODL Through the Dips

HODL is a key term on the growing list of cryptocurrency related slang. It originated in 2013 when a tipsy forum member made a thread entitled ‘I AM HODLING’ (a misspelling of ‘holding’) to declare his decision to hold Bitcoin no matter what. Other forum members immediately latched onto the term. HODL has stuck around… View Article

convince people to buy bitcoin
​How To Convince Your Partner, Mum & Friends To Buy Bitcoin

If you’re an enthusiastic advocate for Bitcoin, you’ve no doubt tried to convince at least one person to get involved- probably with limited success. If you’re looking to explain the value of investing in Bitcoin to the crypto-skeptic in your life, here are four useful pointers. Explain, don’t force Start by keeping things simple. If you go… View Article

bitcoin anonymous
Isn’t Bitcoin Supposed To Be Anonymous?​

One of the most commonly touted benefits of Bitcoin is anonymity. Many people prefer their transactions to not be linked to their names for political or philosophical reasons. Others do so for the sake of their privacy, such as when making an anonymous donation to a charity. Yet law enforcement around the world is steadily… View Article

Gold vs USD vs Bitcoin - who wins?
​USD, Gold, or Bitcoin? Which is best?

Hundreds of years ago, money took the form of precious metals, like Gold or Silver. Today, we think of money, as the paper that comes from the bank, like the United States dollar (USD) or the Great British Pound (GBP). But with what’s happening in Venezuela and Zimbabwe, could this be just the start of… View Article

Hi! New to Bitcoin? Get The Wirex Bitcoin Confidence eBook