Join David Hobby for an in-depth discussion in this video The three food groups: Cell service, data access, and money, part of The Traveling Photographer: London.
- So you've just landed in London and now you got to worry about your three food groups. You have money, cell and data. You got to have money to survive here, a lot of it. And at least I need cell and data to survive, I don't know about you. It's a good news, bad news situation and let's do the bad news first, money. Everything is hugely expensive here and that's not the bad news. We're getting a horrible exchange rate, at $1.63 to the Pound, historically and that's not the bad news. The bad news is that they hose you on the transactions, I've never seen a place that is designed to hose tourists like London is, on their exchanges.
Here's what to look out for, and this is going from more of worst to best. Don't exchange where they just give you a sign that just says one half of the transaction, as in 58 pounds for 100 dollars. That's horrible, you can't see how big the spread is. You need to know that information to know what kind of a deal you're getting. Remember Dubai, the spreads were very tiny. Paris they were decent, London, they're like, you know like, out of the picture, like they're huge. And you don't know how big it is if you just got a hand painted sign that just says 100 dollars buys you 58 pounds. That hand painted, that's another clue.
Currency fluctuates a lot, if they're showing you a hand painted sign, that's a rate they would love to get any day of the week and still make tons of money. Don't use those places. So find the place that gives you both sides of the spread and some of those places are humongous, like a buck 59 to a buck 79, yeah I'd take that spread. They're making 6% on each side of the transaction which means instantly, they're making as much interest on your money as you would if you put it in a bank for about 6 years. Find a tighter spread, you'll be able to find things like a dollar 59 to a dollar 68, that's a legit spread.
Even better, use your ATM card. Just go and pull your money out just like you're at home. Just remember to call them first so it won't ping your bank as fraud when you're using it, that's the way to go. Alright, if money is the bad news then cell and data is the pretty good news. It's not as easy as it was in Hong Kong, not as cheap rather, but it's way better than what it was in Paris, and it's way better than what it was in Dubai. Here's the deal we found by researching pre-paid SIM London. We found three.co.uk, t-h-r-e-e, as a company and for 15 pounds which is about 23 bucks, you get like 5,000 texts and 300 mins and all the data you can eat.
It's 3G data but it's pretty good. That's a good deal, we can live with that. So for 15 pounds, we're kind of connected the whole time that we're here. If you can find a Three store, that's your price because you're only paying for the data pack. But if you can't find a Three store around where you're at, just go into any little convenient store and the clerk is almost certainly going to have everyone's SIMs to sell you. The difference is that it'll be about 3 pounds more, so you're going to pay a few bucks extra. It's still a very good deal and it's very easy to keep in communications when you're in London. Remember, you have to have an unlocked phone to do this, you just can't bring your on-contract phone over from the United States and pop in a new SIM card.
So make sure you've gone over that area and fundamentals earlier if you don't understand how to do that.
Find more courses in the series, including the vital first installment, The Traveling Photographer: Fundamentals, on David's author page.