There are admittedly stronger currencies than some of these three in the world – but these have the advantage of being widely used. This makes them easy to exchange, and easy to trade in, giving them considerable value in many areas of the world. Even if you're travelling to somewhere with a relatively stable currency, it's a good idea to get some pounds, euros, or US dollars as well when you're sorting your cash – just in case you need to change out some cash in an emergency!
Listed below are the parts of the world where you can easily use US dollars, pounds sterling, and euros:
The US Dollar is widely accepted all over the world. While you may have trouble using them in nations which have strong currencies (avoid taking them to the Eurozone, Britain, Australia, China, Japan, or anywhere else with a thriving local currency), most more economically marginal nations will welcome US Dollars. However, some are more accustomed to accepting USD than others. Here is a quick run-through of the best places to use USD:
Panama used the USD alongside its own currency (the balboa)
Following a turbulent history with its own currency, Ecuador voted in 2000 to adopt the US dollar as its official currency. The decision to do so was not popular with Ecuadoreans, but the currency has stuck.
The Bahamaian Dollar has a 1:1 exchange rate with the USD, which makes them basically indistinguishable. Bahamaian vendors will happily trade in both currencies – but, be warned, it does not often work the other way around! American vendors will look askance at you if you try to use Bahamaian dollars in the USA.
Turks and Caicos
This Caribbean island, famed as a retreat for the rich and famous, is also a bit of a tax haven. It uses USD as its official currency – one reason for its popularity with American business people and celebrities.
Vietnamese vendors have been unofficially accepting USD in payment for a long time. However, the Vietnamese authorities are doing their best to curb this, and to shore upon their own currency (the dong). Vendors found accepting USD are sometimes subject to heavy fines. So the situation for dollar-using tourists to Vietnam is likely to change significantly in the next few years.
Unusually for a former British territory, Belize has never backed its currency to the pound sterling. Instead, it has pegged its currency to the US Dollar.
The British pound is officially issued and used in many places. Interestingly, the currency looks quite different depending on where it is issued, which leads to confusion for some. However, anything bearing the pound (L) sign and the Queen's image is officially pounds sterling, and can be used anywhere within the United Kingdom and its outlying islands. It can also be used in many British overseas territories, and even some nations with no current connection to the UK allow it.
British Overseas Territories
All allow use of the pound. These are: The British Antarctic Territory; The Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; St Helena, Ascencion, and Tristan de Cunha; The Isle Of Man; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Jersey; Guernsey;
While not all Egyptian vendors are happy about accepting pounds sterling, those in more 'touristy' areas will take pounds with equanimity.
Zimbabwe's own currency was abandoned in 2015. The nation now uses a variety of other currencies, including the South African rand, Botswana pula, Pound sterling, Indian rupee, Euro, Japanese yen, Australian dollar, Chinese yuan, and the USD. Of these, the pound sterling is one of the more commonly used.
The Euro is the official currency of the 'Eurozone' - a conglomerate of European nations. The Eurozone comprises of 19 countries:
The EU now has 27 member countries (after the UK's Brexit), of which the above 19 use the Euro as their official currency. The other 8 use their own currencies, such as Sweden and Denmark, although many of them, especially the Eastern European member countries, will gladly accept Euros from the travellers.
However, you can also use Euros in many other countries – depending on where you are, and where you shop:
Some UK vendors will accept Euros, but usually only if they are in a 'touristy' area, and have easy access to currency exchange services. A commission is usually charged for payment in Euros.
Kosovo uses the Euro as its official currency, despite not being in the EU.
Like Kosovo, Montenegro is a non-EU country using Euros.
Danes will sometimes accept Euros, although this is not universally the case.
Being closely connected with Europe (and showing signs of wanting to enter the Eurozone), Turkey is well accustomed to accepting Euros alongside its own Lira.
The above hard currencies are the most widely available and the easiest to convert on your holiday or travel trips. Bringing with you any of these will make it easier to book your accommodation or pay your holiday expenses.
Site updated on 17. January 2020