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Money’s Such a Pain

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Photo by Tracy Olson.
CC-By-SA 2.0

After stressing about it for a couple months, our savings plan is back on track for the trip, so we should be about where we should be come departure time. Which has left me some time to start worrying about another problem – how to get our money out.

Normally, this hasn’t been a problem, I just pull out my bank card and get some cash out. But with the favourable exchange rate earlier in the year, I changed about half the trip budget into US dollars, since that’s what’s used in Ecuador, and this has complicated life a bit. Currently, it’s being held in an ING direct account – to earn some interest – which can only be transfered to another Canadian bank, it can’t be withdrawn directly. I’d figured that all I’d have to do is open up a USD account with a regular bank, and then I’d be able to withdraw the money from an ATM in Ecuador. Turns out this is not the case…all the major banks don’t allow ATM access to their USD accounts.

So I’ve come up with two possibilities. It looks like some of the big international banks – HSBC and Citi – might let me open a regular chequing account denominated in US dollars, and I’m waiting for HSBC to get back to me about whether or not this will come with a debit card. If that doesn’t pan out, the last resort is RBC, which allows you to open an account with RBC Centura – their American subsidiary – and transfer money between that and a Canadian account…this seems a little over complicated.

Really, I’ve done pretty well for having exchanged the money early, all I want to do is not lose out on those savings by having to cycle the money back through a Canadian account in order to actually get cash out in Ecuador. It just seems like this really shouldn’t be so hard.

Ecuador Bound

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Photo by Wil Macaulay.
CC-By-NC-SA 2.0

We’ve long been talking of a trip to Ecuador, but I had serious doubts whether it would happen. But as of last Friday, we have tickets. These are probably the messiest set of tickets I’ve ever had to book. I was buying one ticket with Aeroplan points, and they won’t make arrangements for a cash ticket, nor will they sell tickets for any airline outside the Star Alliance. So I had to book a ticket to Bogota, Colombia on points, and then seperately booked a flight to Quito, Ecuador through Expedia. Kathy’s ticket was booked through Air Canada all the way to Quito. We’re on the same flights, though, just possibly not sitting together. And I never before realised how much of a pain online booking can be. I think they go out of their way to make the process complicated.

But it’s done now, so its official. January 24 to February 15, 2009, Kathy and I will be in Ecuador. I, for one, am really excited. I’ve started looking up things I’d like to do and see while we’re there. I really want to get off the tourist trail a bit, so that makes it a little more difficult to research. So far, the coolest thing I’ve found is the Santa Lucia Cloud Forest, which looks like it’ll be loads of fun.