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Tips for saving money while traveling abroad

Whether you are living abroad for work or school, there are plenty of ways to experience foreign lands without breaking the bank. Most parks are open to the public and many times, you can catch a street performance that will not only entertain you, but it can demonstrate native cultural traditions, such as mime performances in France.

You can take public transportation instead of renting a car or hailing taxis to save money. Walking is also an excellent – and free – way to get to know your surroundings and see things you might miss if you hop in a cab and zoom from destination to destination.

If you want to visit a different town than the one in which you are currently staying, you can find out if there is a bus or train that could get you there to avoid renting a car. This way, you spend less money and you don't have to worry about learning local traffic laws or getting lost in a strange place. If you really want to rent a car to explore the country in which you are living, you can have friends or family members send money online to help you pay for the rental.

You can also save money by opting to prepare your own meals if you have a kitchen at your disposal, rather than dining out. If you do not have the ability to cook for yourself, you can always buy foods that are ready-to-eat or that only need minor preparations. Sandwiches, fruits and vegetables are good choices. Many grocers and convenience stores offer premade snacks that you can purchase and enjoy on a bench or at a local park for an impromptu picnic.

Locals can also point you in the direction of inexpensive dining options that may not otherwise be on a foreign guest's radar. This can also help you find hidden treasures that you might not have found on your own. Plus, getting to know native people can help you learn more about their culture and see the side of a nation that you might not otherwise be exposed to as a foreign visitor.

Many cities around the world offer free or inexpensive admission to their museums. With a little bit of online research, you can plan plenty of trips to see some exquisite artwork and historical artifacts. You can visit local churches as well, which often contain beautiful artworks and may have rich histories.

If you are staying in France, and you want to see the Eiffel Tower, it can cost approximately $20 for a ticket to the top according to the Tower's website. While the view is breathtaking, you can just as easily enjoy the Tower from the ground. You may find it hard to resist hopping in an elevator and riding to the top of the 1,069-foot structure, in which case your family members can send money overseas so you can indulge in a bit of tourist-behavior.

Finding inexpensive alternatives to take in the culture and sights of a foreign country can allow you to save money that you can use to treat yourself to an exceptionally fancy dinner or a historical tour that might not have been in your budget initially. If you happen to find yourself running low on funds, you can ask your family members to send money through a wire transfer service, and you will be able to visit an agency or bank to pick up the cash while you are out exploring whatever foreign city you now call home. 


Canadian money to be entirely plastic by 2013

The Bank of Canada recently announced that it plans to replace the nation’s paper currency with plastic bills. The new polymer notes are designed make counterfeiting Canadian money more difficult, with translucent windows and raised ink. Each bill will have a see-through maple leaf on one side and a larger, transparent section on the other that will contain color-shifting images, CNN reports. Another nifty attribute of the polymer notes is that, while they can be folded, they will not crease and will always retain their original shape.

“The Bank is combining innovative technologies from around the world with Canadian ingenuity to create a unique series of bank notes that is more secure, economic and better for the environment,” said Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of Canada. The new bills will last more than twice as long as their paper counterparts, which makes up for the fact that they will cost about twice as much to produce.

Polymer money has been adopted in many countries and the plastic bills have proven to be more economic, hygienic and effective in reducing the rate of counterfeiting. In Australia, the notes have reduced the amount of efforts and funds that are dedicated to combating counterfeiting operations, and made the validation of currency 82 percent more efficient than with paper notes, according to

In 2001, Canada began to see a dramatic increase in the amount of counterfeit bills and by 2004, officials found approximately 470 counterfeit notes per million bills in circulation, which Governor Carney states is a record high. People who are living or working in Canada can have their friends and family members wire money directly to their bank accounts through a money transfer service to lower the risk of encountering fake bank notes.

“These bank notes evoke the country’s spirit of innovation, and their designs celebrate Canada’s achievements at home, around the world and in space,” said Jim Flaherty, the Minister of Finance.

The $100 bill will be released in November 2011, and the new design will feature an updated portrait of Sir Robert Borden, who served the nation as Prime Minister between 1911 and 1920. It will also include images that reflect Canadian innovations in the field of medicine, such as the invention of the pacemaker and the nation’s involvement in mapping the genetic code.

In March 2012, the Bank will issue the polymer $50 bill. This note will focus on the influence of the northern frontier of Canada’s culture, and it will have a new portrait of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, who served two terms in the mid-1900′s.

By the end of 2013, The Bank of Canada states that it will issue polymer $20, $10 and $5 bills. The $20 will be dedicated to Canadian involvement in world conflicts and feature Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen is currently the constitutional monarch of Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Bahamas and 12 other sovereign states.

Sir John A. Macdonald, the first Canadian Prime Minister, will grace the $10, along with “The Canadian,” a transcontinental train that travels on what was once the longest railway in the world.

Canada’s contributions to the international space program will be recognized on the $5, and they will share the space with Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Laurier served as Prime Minister from 1896 to 1911 and was the first French-speaking Canadian leader.

Many people will transfer money online to their friends and family in Canada so they can get their hands on the new plastic bills as they are put into circulation.


7/11/11 Transfer Window Roundup

Transfer window interest continues to mount, as teams send money all over the world, hoping to shore up their squads ahead of the coming season. Each week, we take a look at which big names have moved and which could be on the verge of signing a new deal.

Rumors continue to swirl around 19-year-old wunderkind Neymar, who plays for Santos FC in Brazil. It seems like there’s a different report everyday on what is happening with this talented young striker as he continues to impress in the Copa America. Real Madrid were once considered a lock to sign the star, but nothing has yet materialized. Now, it appears that Real’s rivals, Barcelona, have joined the hunt.

The issue centers around whether Neymar wants to stay on with Santos in the fall. The striker is said to love the team and hopes to guide them to the Club World Cup, where they will likely face off against Barcelona. President Sandro Rosell is said to have offered Neymar the opportunity to play with Santos at the Club World Cup, with the understanding that he would sign with Barcelona in January. Of course, others are saying that Barcelona doesn’t have the money and are simply trying to throw a wrench in Madrid’s plans.

The dark horse in the proceedings is Russian club FC Anzhi Makhachkala. Normally a small team like this would be a joke in transfer proceedings for a star like Neymar. However, the club was recently bought out by a Russian billionaire, who apparently has no limits when it comes to spending. The club is reportedly ready to match or beat the transfer values offered by the big clubs, and Neymar would be the centerpiece of the club’s attempt to buy their way to international respect.

Whichever team ends up signing the player, one will have to step up to the plate and use an international wire transfer to send the £45 million at which he is rumored to be valued.

Another newly-rich team is Malaga, in La Liga. They’ve also been trying to pull some coups during the transfer window, most notably matching a Manchester United offer for Inter’s Wesley Sneijder. There’s not too good of a chance that Sneijder will shun the Reds for a chance to play in La Liga, but stranger things have happened.

In London, Arsenal have completed the signing of Lille striker Gervinho, with the player joining the team for training. Arsene Wenger also told press that he believes Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri will ultimately stay with the club, despite reports linking them with moves abroad. In the same city, Chelsea are said to be looking at another bid for Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric, who seems to be the team’s desired replacement for Michael Essien.

In the premier league, Fulham have agreed to terms with Roma for left back John Arne Riise, who joins his younger brother on the team. Wolverhampton Wanderers have scored a potentially brilliant signing in Robert Johnson, a defender from Birmingham City, though they may lose their striker, Kevin Doyle, to either Juventus or Arsenal.

As for rumors, some big names could be making a switch to smaller clubs. Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner looks to be on his way out of town, and many are pegging his landing spot as Borussia Dortmund in Germany. Meanwhile, Chelsea forward Nicolas Anelka could be going home to Paris Saint-Germain.

Finally, it must be mentioned that Serie A team Napoli unveiled their latest signing, Gokhan Inler, by bringing him to a press conference in a tiger mask. Nobody is quite sure why.


"Iron Man of India" may be immortalized as the tallest statue in the world

India is actively seeking investors to help fund the $300 million building of a statue in Gujarat that, if it comes to fruition, will be the tallest statue in the world. Currently, the Spring Temple Buddha in China is the tallest statue, standing at 420 feet. People who want to make contributions to the effort can send icici money to India.

The proposed statue will be a memorial to Vallabhbhai Patel, an Indian hero of independence who was the first home minister of India and a close friend and ally of Mahatma Ghandi. Patel also served as the leader of India’s Congress Party in 1934 and was known to many as the Iron Man of India and the Sardar, which means chief in a majority of Indian dialects.

The BBC states that the statue will be nearly 600 feet tall, which would make it twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty in New York, if the base is included. It will also be much like the Statue of Liberty in that it will be accessible by boat only, according to the French Press. The construction plans for the statue include elevators that will take visitors to the top of the statue, where they can see through the Sardar’s eyes.

“It is being named Statue of Unity as it was the Sardar who had united India at its most trying times after Independence, amalgamating nearly 550 princely states within Union of India,” Narendra Modi, the current Chief Minister of Gujarat, wrote on his blog. He also said that the statue would represent 90 years of historical Indian heroes who fought for the nation’s independence and unification.

Some people oppose Modi’s plans to build the statue because they believe that the expense is more than unnecessary, as poverty and hunger are still major problems in the Asian country. Many people who live and work outside of the country will send money to India to their families and friends to ease their financial struggle.

Mahesh Pandya, the director of Friends of the Environment, an organization that focuses on improving and protecting the environment, told the French Press that Modi should use the funds to help impoverished people and improve the quality of life in Gujarat to show his respect for the former leader, rather than building a massive statue.


Philippine youth team travels to tournament in Laos

With the support of their country behind them, the Philippine youth national football team, known as the “Teen Azkals,” have officially left for Laos to compete in the ASEAN Football Federation Under-16 Youth Championship.

The prestigious tournament will takes place from July 7th through the 21st, and football fans from all over Southeast Asia will certainly be tuning in to see their nation’s young stars compete against each other for on-field supremacy. Many supporters living overseas take this opportunity to send money home to their families to help organize viewing parties and other events around tournament time.

The young athletes, led by head coach Tomasito Glenn Ramos and manager Alvin Carranza, were given a nice send-off dinner on Tuesday before they left. Famed Philippine football player Chieffy Caligdong, co-captain of the men’s national team, showed up to offer the youngsters some words of advice.

The Philippines squad will take on Cambodia in the first match-up. They’ve been drawn into group B, meaning they’ll face Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Singapore in the opening stage of the competition.

The previous version of the competition, which was to be held in 2009, was canceled due to the outbreak of H1N1 in the host nation of Thailand, so it’s difficult to speculate which team has the best chance in the tournament.


7/6/2011 Transfer Window Roundup

As the summer months continue to heat up, so does the international transfer market. Major squads are sending money around the world in exchange for some top players, and it can be difficult to keep up with all the rumors and movements.

One of the big names that has been circling the rumor mills as of late is attacking midfielder Javier Pastore. The young Argentinian playmaker is reportedly highly thought of by at least five major teams from England and Spain. Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City have all expressed interest in the player. The dark horse is reportedly Spanish side CD Malaga, a team that normally doesn't pay big money for players but appears to be willing to in this case.

Pastore is in a similar situation to Alexis Sanchez of Udinese – both are attacking midfielders playing for smaller Italian clubs, and both appear set to move on very soon. After Sanchez was reportedly rated at €50 million by Udinese owner Gianpaolo Pozzo, Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini said Pastore is worth even more. This could simply be the Italians attempting to raise the price on their players, but it's also possible that the international wire transfers could soon be overloaded with cash if these prices are for real.

Meanwhile, highly-rated striker Giuseppe Rossi has said that he would be open to a switch for Juventus. The Italian giants are looking for a forward to replace the aging Alessandro Del Piero, and Rossi's Italian heritage could make him a natural fit. It was previously said that Barcelona were interested in bringing Rossi over from Villareal, but it now appears that Barcelona is interested in – who else – Alexis Sanchez.

Manchester United are on the hunt for Sanchez themselves, but shored up on the defensive side of the ball this week by adding Atletico Madrid goalkeeper David de Gea. The team was searching for a new keeper now that Edwin Van der Sar has hung up his boots, and the 20-year-old Spaniard will certainly have some big shoes to fill.

Real Madrid has been relatively quiet during the transfer window so far, and the reason may be the Copa America. Real is reportedly targeting two Brazillian players – right wingback Maicon from Inter and Santos' spectacular young striker Neymar. Both players are currently in South America competing for the trophy, so it's likely that any movement on these two fronts won't be happening until after the competition completes.

Over in Germany, Bayern Munich have shored up their squad with a few key transfers after what was a somewhat disappointing season, in which they finished third. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has already come over from fellow German club Schalke, and Genoa right back Rafinha is said to be following shortly thereafter. They're also looking ahead for the future, signing two promising forwards in Japan's Takashi Usami and England's Dale Jennings.

Manchester City is always a fun, if not maddening, team to watch during the transfer window. They seem to be linked with just about every high-profile player, and their nigh-unlimited bank account allows them to purchase almost at will. Backed by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family, it's clear that the club has cash to burn and frequently does so.

Manager Roberto Mancini, originally from Italy, has frequently looked to Serie A to add to his squad, and it appears that trend will continue. The team is in the running for both Sanchez and Pastore, as well as Edinson Cavani, Marek Hamsik, Ezequiel Lavezzi and several others. There's also a possibility of Samir Nasri joining from Arsenal.

It's also been reported that City will likely lose striker Emmanuel Adebayor by the end of the summer, with the player apparently wishing to join Real Madrid permanently after a successful loan spell this spring. 


FIFA updates World Rankings

As international competition heats up around the globe, all eyes were on the FIFA website this morning as the governing body released its new World Rankings, a complicated algorithm that ranks the performance of teams for the purpose of seeding in major international tournaments.

Some nations will be happy with the new rankings, while others are likely to be disappointed. Regardless, with so many international match-ups taking place over the next few months, many will be sending money via international wire transfer back to loved ones to assist with celebrations – or perhaps consolations.

There was no major shakeup at the top, with World Cup Finalists Spain and the Netherlands still occupying the top two spots. Brazil surprisingly fell two spots, allowing Germany and England to both move up. The ranking of a somewhat flat English squad above the Brazilians has some pundits scratching their heads, but it isn’t likely to have a significant impact on international play anyways.

The big mover was Mexico, surging up 19 spots into the top 10 following their impressive CONCACAF Gold Cup win. Their opponents, the United States, slipped two spots to 24th. The tiny nations of Cote d’Ivoire and Montenegro were able to achieve their best-ever rankings at 14th and 16th respectively.

Teams that fell off in the rankings include Uruguay, Chile and Ghana, all of which moved down more than 10 spots.


Britain’s newest royal couple head to Canada and the U.S. this July

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and his new wife, Duchess Catherine Middleton, are preparing to embark on their first royal visit to North America as a married couple. They will first travel to Canada to celebrate Canada Day on July 1, ABC News reports.

Canada Day celebrates the unification of Canada and the royal couple will join in the festivities on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, that include a parade and a citizenship parade. Many people who are living abroad will send money to Canada so their families can attend the celebrations and catch a glimpse of the royal figureheads.

In Quebec, Montreal, the Duke and Duchess will share Sunday worship with the crew of the HMCS Montreal, a Canadian naval vessel. Prince William will also showcase his piloting skills with a helicopter landing demonstration, according to The Associated Press.

Their next stop will be at the Prince Edward Islands, where Prince William will showcase his piloting skills with a helicopter landing demonstration, according to The Associated Press. The Duchess’s favorite book, Anne of Green Gables, is set on the Islands, so the couple may take a tour of the house in Cavendish that author Lucy Maud Montgomery used for inspiration when she was writing the book.

The Duchess of Cambridge may have roots in Canada, according to the Toronto Star. They recently uncovered records that show that Middleton’s grandfather lived in Alberta while he was serving in the Royal Air Force. Peter Middleton, who passed away this year, was an instructor at a flight school in Calgary during the Second World War.

“It would be just spectacular if they actually stopped by and visited us and had a chance for her to be in a place where her grandfather very well may have been,” Brenda Blair, the liaison for the Aero Space Museum in Calgary, told the news source.

When they reach Calgary, the couple plans to visit the airfield where the Duchess’s grandfather was stationed. Prince William and Catherine are also planning to attend the Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo show and festival that has been held since 1886, before they bid farewell to Canada and head to the United States. Canadian citizens who are working in other countries will send remittances home to their families so they can attend the rodeo and see Prince William lend a hand in the chuckwagon competition.

The Vancouver Sun states that the Prince and his bride will also take part in the festival’s parade to continue the tradition of British royal visits to Calgary. Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, enjoyed similar events during their visit to Canada in 1951.

“The royals are the ones that asked to be able to participate and see some of our iconic Western events, and, in fact, were very keen to see what rodeo is all about,” Michael Casey, the president of Calgary Stampede, told the news source.

When the couple leaves Canada on July 8, they will fly to southern California to host a charity event at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club. VIP tickets for the event cost approximately $4,000, and include a three-course meal and the opportunity to watch Prince William play in a charity game of polo.

The benevolent newlyweds solidified their commitment to charity as they raised more than $1.6 million on their wedding day, and the California-based event has already raised more than $4.4 million from sales of more than 1,000 VIP passes and about 400 general admission tickets, the Associated Press reports.


Heatwaves roll across the U.K., bringing big storms and cool air

Sunday June 26 marked the hottest day of the year in the United Kingdom. Temperatures reached nearly 88 degrees Fahrenheit in London, according to The Guardian. Many people took advantage of the heat and headed to beaches or played in fountains to keep cool.

The heatwave caused some electric-rail trains to slow down drastically. One line, which runs between London and East Anglia, usually travels at about 90 miles per hour (mph), but on Monday the train service was slowed to 60 mph as a precautionary measure.

“We’re already doing weekend work on overhead wires on this route, and they can overheat in very hot weather,” a spokesperson for Network Rail told the news source.

The exceptionally warm weather was caused by a Spanish plume weather system that causes warm air to flow from Southern European countries, such as Spain and France, Sky News reports.

The transit delays and warnings of hot weather caused many people throughout the U.K. to miss work on Monday. The Met Office issued a weather warning through Tuesday morning as Monday’s temperatures were expected to reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

“These temperatures, together with high humidity, pose a risk to vulnerable people, such as those with underlying health problems,” said Patrick Sachon, the head of Health Forecasting at the Met Office.

In times like these, many people who are living abroad wire money to their relatives and friends in the UK to help them stay cool and safe during the heatwave. The International Business Times states that people who may be susceptible to the heat should drink lots of cold beverages, avoid alcohol and tea and stay indoors during peak heat hours, roughly between 11AM and 3PM.

Thunderstorms were predicted to roll across Southern England and Wales on Monday night, breaking the heatwave, and now temperatures are hovering around the 50’s and low 60’s Fahrenheit, which is a little bit lower than the average temperature at this time of year.

The Guardian reports that the cool weather will not last long and warm air will return once the thunderstorms pass. So far, no other heatwaves are anticipated, but many people will make online money transfers to their relatives in the UK so they can be prepared in case things heat up again.


European teams race to sign Santos star Neymar

Neymar da Silva, commonly known as Neymar, is one of the hottest soccer players in the world right now after guiding his team, Santos FC, to the prestigious Copa Libertadores.

European clubs have been after the 19-year-old striker for quite some time, as many see him as a future all-time great. However, his recent performance coupled with the summer transfer window has interest at a peak.

Luis Alvaro Ribeiro, the president of Santos, says he has no plans to sell the striker, and that the team will do their best to retain him. Reportedly, Neymar himself is in no hurry to leave, and would be fine with continuing to play for Santos up until the 2014 World Cup.

As of now, Chelsea and Real Madrid appear to be the frontrunners when it comes to landing the player's signature. Chelsea has reportedly had several bids rejected over the past year. Real Madrid has yet to submit a formal offer for the player, but have reportedly met with his representatives.

Whichever team ends up signing the youngster, they'll likely have to send quite a bit of money via international wire transfer to secure his release from Santos.

Neymar will next be in action for the Brazilian national team as they attempt to capture the Copa America in the coming weeks.