A story of Jack, his travelling and roundabouts for spending Bitcoin abroad
Meet Jack, 27 year old web-designer from London UK. He uses bitcoin to travel abroad.
There are three things in life that make Jack especially happy: top-notch technologies & gadgets, travelling and ergonomic interfaces. Right now, he’s planning to have a trip to Europe and probably visit Southern hemisphere to catch a few sunny days. Overall his formula of determining the quality of the journey sounds like this:
|Vacation quality = Reality – Expectations|
This is very simple — the more reality overcomes expectations, the happier he’d be during the journey and vice versa.
There are some things that can demean the reality: flight cancellations, currency exchange hassle, wasteful hours in foreign banks and airports etc. Let’s see how bitcoin can help to make Jack’s reality more colorful.
At first, a few things he needs to do before he even leave home.
How did Jack travel in the past?
Back to 2010 Jack has travelled in a very traditional way: exchanged GBP to Euros or other fiat currencies and hoped that it’d be enough for the whole trip. Then divided small piles of cash by a few packs, hide them in the luggage and under the coat, because he was afraid to get robbed.
Preparations involved a lot of consequent actions with different tools: booking a flight using a laptop and Maestro debit card, booking a hotel with Visa (since a discount was applied for this method), researching currency exchange rates and visiting banks to buy euros. Also, he needed to contact the card issuer and let him know countries, where he will spend money.
The rented car has stopped in the middle of nowhere, which forced Jack to exchange more money in the ATM with higher commissions and rent another one. His well-crafted budget began to ruin and then, as the icing on the cake, the card's issuer has blocked his card account due to he has used it in the region he didn’t plan to go to.
Getting back to the epic journey formula, what have we got? The reality was far less than Jack’s expectations, preparations and plans resulting in a tremendous frustration.
“That was it”, — Jack has decided to use bitcoin for travelling to avoid some of these situations.
Things to settle beforehand
Once Jack decided to use bitcoins for the trip, he has prepared a checklist with all necessary actions he must do before leaving the place. Here are some tools and devices you also need to configure to successfully operate bitcoins abroad.
- Smartphone with an Internet connection. You’ll need to connect your wallet and localbitcoins to arrange exchanges and control the amount of money left on your account. Make sure you have an access to Blockchain.info to track down a transaction and estimate its confirmation time.
- Secure bitcoin wallet.It’s easy. Before purchasing bitcoins you need the place to store them. Learn how to choose a secure wallet for the trip, and optionally look through a few thoughts on improving bitcoin wallet security we’ve shared recently.
- Bitcoin debit card. This card is similar to any other plastic card except it’s able to purchase goods or services via bitcoins. It’s protected with chip & pin card with additional 2FA for account online access. Debit card, e.g. Cryptopay bitcoin card, will allow you to withdraw funds via ATMs and pay at the POS.
- Web exchange accounts. There are multiple btc exchange services that can help withdrawing money locally or abroad. Some of them require a registration to receive better rates or perform withdrawal at all, so it’s wise to sign up before you’re lost with a low battery.
You can find the best rate by using Bestchange, which will list active exchanges in according to specified payment method and the reserved amount of money.
If you have all these four points settled, then you’re ready for the trip! Let’s now find out how Jack solved the ticket and accommodation problems.
Booking Airline Tickets with BTC
With BTC wallet or debit card
There are a few websites where you can shop plane tickets with bitcoins. You can easily purchase plane tickets with bitcoins using any of these platforms:
With bitcoin gift cards
Sometimes it’s impossible to buy plane tickets for BTC directly due to the company policy over BTC or something very similar. There’s a workaround in using gift cards from major airlines, which you can buy with bitcoins and then spend to buy tickets. Here are some gift card reseller platforms where you can shop with bitcoins:
The next step is to book a room in a hotel (or hotels) and although major european booking services — airbnb.com or booking.com, don’t accept bitcoins directly, there is a way to do it.
Booking Accommodations with BTC
Since major european booking platforms don’t accept bitcoins as a payment method for an accommodation, cash-free travellers can use other services to book a room. Here’s the list of the most popular available solutions:
- Expedia.com (US version of the site)
Of course, the full list is much bigger, because each hotel can implement its own policy towards the bitcoin usage. Visit the hotel’s website to find out if it can be paid for with BTC or simply research bitcoiners forums to find out who accepts BTC in your destination country.
Jack was ready to rock! It’s time to fly, but where to?
Where to spend and withdraw bitcoins
Since Jack may need to exchange BTC to local currencies very quickly, he has added Bitcoin ATM Radar to browser bookmarks. It’ll help to avoid wasting time asking on forums or searching through Google Maps.
Europe is the best region of the world to visit with btc, since legislation here allows using bitcoins on a daily basis without restrictions. Some government services has also been innovative, like these nice railroad ticket machines currently available for Swiss residents. Hopefully, such devices will soon be able to help travellers across the whole continent.
All in all Jack strategy is to plan the route ahead and find out necessary shops, which accept bitcoin as the payment method. Make sure, you have an access to food, water and basic services, like drug store or haircut.
Jack in a wonderland
Jack is happy as bitcoin is able to save a lot of time and money during the journey.
As more countries across Euro zone adopt it, the network grows and more merchants turn to cryptocurrencies in order to avoid fiat currency regulation barriers. The exchange procedures can be long and exhausting abroad, so bitcoin actually means that your expectations will never outcome reality (remember the formula at the beginning?).
Don’t forget that it’s quite easy to lost a debit card while abroad, use lost & stolen bitcoin card replacement guide to order a replacement.
Feel free to share more ways to improve travelling experience with Bitcoin in the comment section below.