The Perpetual Math of Travel

I was recently looking at going for a mini-spa day to get massages with my sister-in-law. She found a deal that would be a 45 minute massage, access to the spa facilities including a pool and hot tub, for about 35 pounds. This sounds like a great deal until you start doing the mental math. Based on the current rate of exchange between the Pounds sterling (UK) and the US Dollar those 35 pounds are $45.76. Now while it’s not a bad deal it doesn’t seem nearly as good.

That’s because my brain is conditioned to think in dollars. I grew up in the United States – every paycheck I have ever received is in dollars. I know the effort required to earn $20 and thus I understand the value of that $20. However, 20 pounds, 20 euros, 20 Australian dollars, or 20 Canadian dollars are all different amounts of US dollars; so, while I am traveling I am constantly converting the amount into US dollars so that I can mentally decide whether or not it is a good deal.

In the next six months I will be traveling to economic areas that use 18 different currencies. Inevitably just when you get one figured out we will be in a new country with a new currency, the pocket for change in my purse will get filled and emptied, filled and emptied. The leftover change and bills (notes) from each country will go into a little jar at home to be sorted through before the next time we go back to those countries.

Oh just some spare change from every corner of the globe.

Much like changing time zones constantly is a part of what life on ships is – keeping track of a whole bunch of different currencies is another part of it! For me that is mostly just along for the ride it’s not too bad – but can you imagine getting done a 12 hour shift at work, you go out to get dinner, and realize you have no idea how much it is, or even what currency to use? It is definitely an added mental challenge to both those that travel for fun and those that travel for work.

These are the currencies Stuart and I will need to use in the next six months, as well as what $20 USD equals in those currencies. Just for fun I’ve also tossed in the time zone differences. Oh yay!

Country & Currencylocal money$1USDlocal money$20USDTime Zone (from 12:00pm EST)
U.K. British Pound Sterling 1.00 GBP$1.3115.30$205:00pm
Euro (European Economic Area)1.00 EUR$1.1018.14$205:00pm-7:00pm
Chile – Chilean Peso (CP)1.00 CLP$0.001315,545.99 CP$202:00pm
Tahiti – cours de franc Pacifique (CFP)1.00 CFP$0.00922,173.00$207:00am
New Zealand – New Zealand Dollar (NZD)1.00 NZD$0.6630.26$206:00am (the next day)
Kingdom of Tonga – Tongan pa’anga1.00 TOP$0.4346.02$206:00am (the next day)
Australia – Australian Dollar1.00 AUD$0.6829.30$204:00am (the next day)
Indonesia – Indonesian Rupiah1.00 IDR$0.000073274,330.13$2012:00am (the next day)
Singapore – Singapore Dollar1.00 SGD$0.7427.03$201:00am (the next day)
Sri Lanka – Sri Lankan Rupee1.00 LKR$0.00553,632.22$2010:30pm
Maldives – Maldives Rufiyaa1.00 MVR$0.065308.88$2010:00pm
Seychelles – Seychellois rupee1.00 SCR$0.073272.82$209:00pm
Kenya – Kenyan shilling1.00 KES$0.00992,017.23$208:00pm
Tanzania – Tanzanian shilling1.00 TZS$0.0004346,109.24$208:00pm
Madagascar – Malagasy ariary1.00 MGA$0.0002773,200.00$208:00pm
Mozambique – Mozambican metical1.00 MZN$0.0161,271.87$207:00pm
South Africa – South African rand1.00 ZAR$0.069288.12$207:00pm
Barbados – Bajan dollar1.00 BBD$0.50140.37$201:00pm

Is your head hurting yet? This is part of the perpetual mental math that has to be done constantly. Figuring out what time it is, whether or not you can call home right then, or figuring out how much something costs in a currency that you can wrap your head around because if you see that something costs 200,000 Indonesian rupiah if you are anything like me you won’t know if that is a whole helluva lot or not much at all.

Years ago I bought a jacket in Norway and I purposefully have never actually figured out how much it cost. We were going between several Scandinavian countries and that day my brain just shut off. I was tired, overworked, and just knew I wanted that jacket, so I didn’t figure out the conversion because I knew I wouldn’t like the answer. So, while it can certainly be a bit frustrating to keep track of it is a part of what makes the world interesting – much like the world being full of so many languages, it allows countries to have an individual identity and brings additional culture to the places visited.

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