My biggest first world problem when travelling

What happens when your bank account is frozen without notice while you’re overseas, with 5 bucks in your pocket and haven’t paid for a bed that night?

For me it was panic. Then anger, and then rationally trying like hell to come up with a solution.

While I was able to sort out a temporary fix a week later and reactivate my account for a month, my bank was adamant that as I was no longer a resident of their country, I had to withdraw all my money within 4 weeks, or face interminable paperwork and legal action to get it back.

As it turns out it’s very hard to have any form of bank account in Europe without being a resident. Especially one with low fees or one where you don’t need to be physically present in the country to open the account.

This was a major issue for me as I had no other bank account and also wanted to keep my money in Euro to save on conversion and bank fees. As I’m traveling long term in Europe I need ready access to Euro over the next few months.

It took a fair amount of frustrating research filled with dead ends before I finally stumbled on a solution. It’s exactly what I was looking for- a bank account engineered by a couple of Estonian guys who faced a similar problem of not wanting to lose money regularly transferring between currencies.

So, I want to share what I found with as many people as possible because I haven’t found anything else that comes close. You can store money in multiple currencies, transfer between your currencies and to other peoples accounts for very low fees and (the real game-changer for me) you can get a physical debit card for your account. This is a necessity when you travel as I do, as you need a debit/credit card to book trains, buses and hostels last minute. Additionally, you don’t need to go to a branch in person to set up your account and you don’t need to be a European resident. So what is it?

A multi-currency boarderless account with TransferWise. You can set up an account through their phone app and even if you just want to transfer money as a once off I’d highly recommend using them for their low fees.

Here’s a blog post by them describing the account and the alternatives you’re faced with as a non-resident living in Europe. And if you’re wondering- no this post isn’t sponsored by TransferWise- I just think they’re bloody awesome and everyone should know about them!