Few things get me as excited as visiting a new corner of the world, and my passport can attest to that. I’ve visited 45 countries, lived in nine and covered all continents except Antarctica.
After years of globetrotting, I thought that part of my life would have been over by now. But just when I began to feel the desire to settle down and set roots, something happened: I discovered Bitcoin. My life, then, was radically changed. Not only has it transformed my worldview, but it’s also reignited a fire in me to keep moving and seek out people who have gone through the same awakening.
Combining my passions for adventure and hard money, I’ve recently begun to focus on visiting emerging Bitcoin circular economies across the globe. From helping me save time and money to making me feel more protected and connected with the people I meet along the way, using Bitcoin has been a game changer for my travel experiences.
In this piece, I discuss how Bitcoin has helped me fix common money issues known to travelers everywhere and how it’s made my journeys more special in multiple ways.
If I had a sat for every time I’ve had to deal with payment-related issues in a foreign country, I’d have a big enough stack to make Michael Saylor jealous. Whether it was finding a currency exchange with decent rates, looking for a store that accepted my cards or calling my bank to resolve credit card issues, I’ve wasted so much precious time on these problems that just thinking about them frustrates me.
In a few scenarios, it’s even resulted in the disruption of my itinerary and a significant dose of anxiety, as when it happened during a trip to a remote island in the Philippines in 2015. Though I had a great time, it wasn’t long before I found myself running out of cash, with no ATMs and no currency exchange offices in the area. Ultimately, I was saved by the only Western Union office in town — when it finally opened two days after my crisis began.
Had the locals and I known about Bitcoin then, my journey would have gone as planned, and my stress levels would have remained stable the entire time.
Fast forward eight years, and I returned to the Philippines, but this time, my experience with money matters was much better. Why? Because I chose the island of Boracay, also known as “Bitcoin Island,” as my destination.
Thanks to the many merchants now accepting Philippine pesos via the Bitcoin Lightning Network rail, I was able to deal with all payments digitally. This prevented me from wasting time dealing with cash, ATMs and currency exchange offices and allowed me to do more of what I wanted to do: enjoy the island.
Bitcoin has helped me save time.
BITCOIN HELPS TRAVELERS SAVE MONEY
As a backpacker, I was always very conscious of my budget. Street food, hostels and overnight bus rides were my bread and butter, but one thing I could never avoid was those unwanted and often unexpected expenses that come with the territory.
Think of credit card fees, which, in Guatemala, can cost up to 10%, and ATM fees which, in Thailand, can amount to $6 per withdrawal for foreign bank cards plus your bank fees. Even currency exchange rates are costly, as I have found that they generally charge 10% for their services. These small numbers may not seem like much, but they add up quickly, which means a lot for someone traveling on a budget.
But that has never been an issue when visiting Bitcoin communities. That’s because the only fees involved in bitcoin payments are transaction costs, which are often negligible or non-existent. And I’ve also enjoyed the benefits beyond these hotspots, as many businesses nowadays offer a discount if you pay in bitcoin. If you’ve ever bought tickets to a Bitcoin conference, you might know what I’m talking about.
Bitcoin has helped me save money.
BITCOIN ENHANCES TRAVELERS’ SAFETY
Whenever I share tales of my solo adventures, the topic of safety always comes up. While street smarts and wise decisions have helped me avoid real danger, I’ve had to deal with a different kind of unpleasantness multiple times: fraud.
In Vietnam, I got scammed by a taxi driver with fake Vietnamese dong notes. In Bali, my travel card was cloned, and I only found out when the culprits tried to withdraw money in the middle of the night. To this day, I have no idea how they did it. And I’ve lost track of how many times I felt my heart racing while using an ATM in a questionable location or at odd hours of the day or night and walking away with three days’ worth of cash in my bag.
Navigating exclusively on Bitcoin eliminates all of those concerns for me. And it makes perfect sense. When you’re not dealing with cash, ATMs or credit cards, your risks are minimized, and your peace of mind is maximized.
My only goal is keeping my phone safe, though even if I lose it, I can still access my funds by recovering my wallet on a new device. That’s why it’s important to back up your seed phrase, people!
Bitcoin has enhanced my safety.
BITCOIN MAKES TRAVELING MORE MEANINGFUL
Poverty, weakening currencies and countless unbanked individuals are some of the biggest afflictions that developing countries face today. Call it selfish or exaggerated, but paying locals for their goods and services in bitcoin feels more rewarding than giving them pieces of paper that are guaranteed to lose value.
During a visit to Bitcoin Lake in Guatemala, for instance, it was wonderful to see how many merchants in the local market accepted bitcoin. It allowed them to attract more customers, make more sales and prompted more conversations about the significant changes they’ve gone through since using bitcoin as money.
Being able to pay hard-working people in Bitcoin feels more authentic and makes for a more memorable exchange and bonding experience. It renders tourism more meaningful and worth all the time and effort that goes into planning a trip to these unique places around the world.
Bitcoin has made my travels more meaningful.
Needless to say, my travel experience hasn’t been the same since I discovered Bitcoin. Understanding money and its profound effects on every aspect of our lives has significantly changed the way I look at the world and walk through life everywhere I go.
As an avid wanderer, I want to see more places embrace Bitcoin in the future. It will help empower the communities, boost the economies and attract the attention of Bitcoiners like myself, who will want to encourage and support them in any way they can.