Following the launch of the Multi-Currency World Currency CardTM in South Africa, we caught up with Alan King, managing director of MasterCard Prepaid Management Services, as he’s a seasoned traveller with great tips and insight.
Having travelled all his life and moved around a lot with his parents growing up, Alan says he’s fortunate that he still has the opportunity to travel with work (and family), and always gets excited about experiencing different cultures, sights, smells and tastes.
What inspires you to travel?
Travel is incredibly enriching in so many ways and gives you an appreciation of the diverse world we live in and an understanding of its many delights and challenges.
Where is your favourite city abroad?
It’s hard to choose just one. I live in London, and it’s without a doubt my favourite city because of its incredible diversity and atmosphere. Further afield though, I’d have to choose New York City and Hong Kong. I love the organised chaos in both destinations and the melting pot of cultures and tastes.
What are your three travel tips?
Definitely to eat local food in authentic places (research pays off!), choose to walk around instead of always taking a taxi because wandering around on foot without a specific plan is the best way to experience places, and expect to spend more than you think – and be prepared accordingly.
What travel advice can you share?
Go somewhere new at least once a year if you can, even if it’s not abroad and closer to home, and make sure you have multiple ways to pay when travelling – don’t rely just on one payment method like cash.
Have you had any embarrassing moments as a traveller?
I’ve had many! More recently, my wife and I were on holiday in the south of France and we went for a dinner at a rather pricey seafood restaurant. When the bill arrived, I realised I had forgotten to bring my wallet and my wife didn’t have her purse either. The restaurant staff were helpful but I sensed a hint of suspicion. I knew one of the cards I had in my wallet was a Multi-currency prepaid travel card that offered emergency assistance, so I logged into the app on my phone, accessed the customer service number and called them immediately. They were able to wire funds to me that I had on the account to a money transfer agent just round the corner. My wife stayed behind – under the watchful eyes of the restaurant staff – and I popped over to get the funds. All was resolved, but it was quite embarrassing given the environment we were in and the many stares being received.