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Northern Ireland 

Travel Money and Costs
 
The following is some useful information on money and costs in Northern Ireland.  Please bear in mind that the amounts listed are just averages from my experience; if your experience is different than please email us.   
 
CurrencyThe Plastic 5 Note in Northern Ireland issued by the Northern Bank
British pound sterling = 100 pence
Notes:   100, 50, 20, 10 and 5.
Coins:   £1, £2 and 50p, 20p, 10p 5p, 2p and 1 pence.
 
Each bank is allowed to issue their own bank notes, therefore not all the currency will look the same (however it is all sterling therefore it will spend the same)!  Northern Ireland even has their own "plastic" five pound note (picture to the side). 
 
Note that currency in the Republic of Ireland is the EURO and therefore if you are flying into Dublin you will also need to have Euros as well as pounds sterling. 
 
Meals
Budget:     $   5.00 - 10.00
Mid-range: $ 10.00 - 25.00
High:         $ 25.00 +

Lodging
Budget:     $ 10.00 - 30.00
Mid-range: $ 30.00 - 90.00
High:         $ 90.00 +
 
Cost of a Pint
The cost of a pint will vary between £2.30 to £3.00.  In well-known tourist spots, a pint may be more expensive than at a “local” pub. 
 
Cost of Gas/Petrol
Petrol has fluctuated widely over the last year, however the base cost is approximately £1 - £1.05 per litre for unleaded fuel.  Diesel is generally a tad more expensive. 
 
A few things to bear in mind when organising your money:
1. Cash is great until it gets stolen; cash is handy when you first arrive therefore consider buying some in your home country,
2. Keep some USD, local currency or another major currency away from your main wallet in case of emergencies, and
3. The safest place to carry money is next to your skin, in a money belt or at least in different places; I used to carry a VISA card in a ankle belt in case my money belt was stolen. 

Accomodation
Accommodation is priced as follows (an estimate), you will need:
£30.00 to £45.00 a day, if you are staying in hostels, and mostly making your own meals, or
$£85.00 to £95.00 a day, if you are moving around a bit, eating out once or twice a day and staying in budget hotels or B&Bs, or
£150.00 + a day, if you are travelling a lot, eating out once or twice a day and staying at B&Bs and hotels which have a higher star rating
 
Currency exchange
Before converting currencies, find out what banks, post offices or foreign exchanges charge in way of commission as this can vary greatly. Exchange facilities are available for all incoming and outgoing flights at the international airport in Belfast. International-class hotels will exchange major currencies for guests. It is recommended that visitors change money at the airport or at city banks, as the exchange rate is better.
 
Travellers cheques
Not all banks or foreign exchanges recognise all brands of travellers cheques, to be on the safe side you should buy a mix; Visa, Amex and Thomas Cook are the most well known and widely accepted. However, some banks may charge a fee for cashing travellers cheques. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in a major currency. A passport is usually sufficient proof of identity.
 
Most travellers cheques can be replaced worldwide if lost or stolen within 24 hours, they have no expiry date so can be kept for your next trip.  Sign your Travellers Cheques once, right after purchase, as you are not protected against loss or theft.  You should also keep your receipt and the serial numbers on the cheques separate in case of theft.
 
Credit & debit cards
Credit cards American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa  (particularly Visa and MasterCard) are widely accepted (and pretty much compulsory if you’re going to rent a car), and ATMs all over the country accept credit and Cirrus cards. Use may be restricted in small towns and outback areas. Carry cancellation numbers for all credit and debit cards in case they are stolen or lost.
 
Bank Hours
Bank hours are usually 9:30 to 16:30, Monday to Friday although specific hours will vary according to the bank. 
 
Tipping
Tipping is gaining a foothold in Northern Ireland, particularly in cafes and restaurants in the bigger cities, and a tip 10-15% is usual. However, you will not cause offence if you do not tip. Taxi drivers are always grateful if you leave the change.

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