Exposure to different cultures is one of the main reasons I enjoy visiting other countries. There are other types of food, interesting people, new experiences … and one more thing that no one can escape from in a new country is a different currency.
Of course, there are now many countries that use the euro or the US dollar. This can make travel between such countries easier, as there will be no currency to exchange or different rates to adjust to. In my opinion, however, I like having different money to use and get used to when I travel. It is part of the cultural experience to hold money in your hand with a foreign monarch, president or historical figure gracing the coin or paper. When I visited Thailand and Vietnam last year, getting used to the fact that £1 is equivalent to over 42 Thai baht and 27,000 Vietnamese dong was also quite a good test for my maths skills!
If you have ever been to the U.K., you will know that the Queen’s head is on every banknote and every coin. We use the pound sterling (£) - also known as ‘a quid’ in slang terms - which is made up of 100 pence (p). I am living in the Quebec province of Canada this year and, interestingly, they also have the British Queen on their $20 banknotes. This is because she is also Canada’s Head of State. Living in a French-speaking province where Queen Elizabeth II features on their currency is really unique, like the province itself. The other famous people on the Canadian money include former prime ministers, as well as Canadian wildlife like the beaver, caribou and polar bear.
By the time I return to the UK in 2017, there will be new historical figures on our £5 and £10 banknotes (the 'fiver' and the 'tenner'): wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill and author Jane Austen. The banknotes will also be made of a material called polymer rather than paper, which has more security features and lasts longer than paper. In Canada, they are already using polymer banknotes and some people even think that the money smells of maple syrup, probably the country’s most well-known food!
Money is a great way to learn about the history of the countries you visit before it is inevitably spent having fun experiencing life abroad!