How To Do Exchange Calculations Quickly When Traveling
You probably don’t need that exchange calculator unless your math skills are exceptionally bad. To relativize prices, use these three methods.
For currencies greater than 50% higher or lower value than the dollar, it helps to find a rounded reference point. For example, the Mexican peso ranges between 18 and 22 to the dollar. By rounding to 20, quick exchange math can be done by moving the decimal and dividing by two; 800 pesos becomes 40 dollars.
For currencies up to 50% higher than the dollar, think of the difference as a gratuity. If the euro is trading at 1.05 to the US dollar, simply add a 5% “tip” to the price. For currencies up to 50% lower than the dollar, use the discount method. If the Canadian dollar is trading at 75 cents on the dollar, discount amounts by 25%.
The third method is for currencies with an exchange that’s not quickly “math-able”, like the Thai Baht, which at press time exchanges for about three cents in the US. Simply check the exchange amount for $10 USD, and adjust as needed. $10 USD is 343 Baht today, so round up to around 350 and use that as a reference. The important thing to remember is that exchanges vary by whose doing the exchanging, which card is being used, and other factors, so keep an eye on relative exchanges, but don’t fuss over the mental math down to the last decimal – focus instead on enjoying your travels.
This article is from Fodor’s. Here are some of my ideas from my last trip to Europe.
For the Euro, at $1.05 per USD, I just considered it about equal and did not bother too much with the math, unless the purchase was extremely large (rare for me).
In Croatia, we received about 7 kuna per USD. So, either divide the kuna by 7, or multiply by 7 if the price is listed in USD. Division by 7 can be tedious at times. So, I use the rule of 10. 70 kuna is roughly $10, 700 kuna is $100 USD.
It was a bit more difficult in Serbia. I received 110 Serbian dinar for one USD. So again, round to 100 to simplify the math. Of course, you may choose to calculate the dinar as one cent American. The worst part is that I forgot to exchange my leftover dinar back into dollars at the Belgrade airport. And nobody, I repeat, nobody wants to exchange them to USD or Euro anywhere else!!!!
But Asia probably wins the award for difficulty in exchanging or calculating prices.
One USD = 23,192 Vietnamese dong
One USD = 4066 Cambodian riel
One USD = 124 Nepalese rupee
One USD = 13,978 Laotian kip (even rounding to 14,000 makes this problematic)
One USD = 4.4 Malaysian ringgit
One USD = 34 Thai baht
So, bottom line, use the calculator on your cell phone! Or carry a cheat sheet, which I do when traveling in SE Asia.