Daily Archives: May 27, 2013

A note for kids about exchange rates

In his post, Oliver listed the currency and exchange rates for each country we will visit.

Currency is the kind or system of money used in each country in the world. When we travel to other countries we need to use their currency; we can’t use our Australian dollars. So in England we will use pound sterling. You write it like this, £5 (and not like this, $5). In Denmark we will use Danish krone, and in The Netherlands we will use the euro (before 2002 they used the Dutch guilder). These currencies can look quite different to ours. For instance, in Australia our $2 coins are smaller than our $1 coins, but in England their £2 coins are bigger than their £1 coins. In Australia our notes are different colours and sizes for the different denominations ($5, $10, $20, $50, $100), but in the USA all of their notes are green and about the same size. So it’s easy to get confused and give the wrong money.Australian_$1_Coin

To get pounds and kroner and euros for our trip we need to buy them with Australian dollars. An exchange rate “between two currencies is the rate at which one currency will be exchanged for another”. For our trip, we are interested in the exchange rates for pounds, kroner and euros. In other words, how many Australian cents or dollars will it cost us to buy 1 pound, 1 krone or 1 euro?

These exchange rates go up and down. But now it costs:
  • $1.57 in Australian money to get 1 pound
  • 18 cents in Australian money to get 1 krone
  • $1.34 in Australian money to get 1 euro

So if Oliver saves up $100 in pocket money for our trip, he can exchange it for 64 pounds, 557 kroner, or 75 euros. You can try doing your own currency conversions here.

When Oliver’s dad and I first travelled to England about 15 years ago, the exchange rate was more like 3 to 1. It would cost $3 in Australian money to get 1 pound. It was very expensive to travel there. But the exchange rate has improved a lot.

Another important thing to know about is the cost of living. A packet of hot chips at our local chicken shop costs $2. If a packet of hot chips also costs £2 in London and the exchange rate is 3 to 1, those chips cost us $6 in Australian money. Pretty expensive chips. But if the exchange rate is 1.5 to 1, as it is now, then those chips are only about $3 in Australian money. So not too bad. When you are travelling you have to keep your eye on the exchange rate and the cost of the things you are buying. When Oliver and I are in London, for example, we will be able to multiply by 1.5 the cost of things we want to buy to work out if it is cheaper than Australia or much more expensive.

This is not too tricky when the rate of the Australian dollar and the foreign currency is pretty close (like now for the US dollar, where the exchange rate is almost 1 to 1; it costs about 1 Australian dollar to buy 1 US dollar). But it gets more challenging with a currency like the Danish krone.

Right now it costs 18 Australian cents to buy 1 Danish krone. So those $2 chips in Australian money would cost 11 Danish kroner if the cost of living is about the same in Australia and Denmark. You might think “whoa, $11 for chips”. But you have to remember that each krone is  worth less than an Australian 20 cent piece. 11 x 20 cents is $2.20 in Australian money. But maybe chips in Denmark cost 15 kroner because the cost of living is higher there. How much is that in Australian money?

15 (kroner) x 18 cents (the current exchange rate) = $2.70 in Australian money. So a bit more expensive than here at home but not too bad.

As you can see, Oliver and I will have lots of opportunities to practice our maths skills while we travel.

18 days to go, my itinerary by Oliver and Siri

australia map3

Oliver and Siri (on his iPad mini) did some research about our travel destinations:

What is an itinerary?

According to http://www.thefreedictionary.com, an itinerary is “a route or proposed route of a journey”.

Here is where Mum and I are going:

London, England

london map3

  • Where is it: England is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and lies in North West Europe
  • Distance from Australia: 16,990 kms
  • Hours to get there (from Australia): 21-22 hours
  • Language/s spoken: British English
  • Currency and exchange rate: British pounds, £1 = $1.57 in Australian money
  • Size (relative to Australia): 130,395 km2; Australia is 7,692,024 km2, so England is less than 2% of the size of Australia
  • Population: 51 million people; Australia’s population is 22.3 million, so England has twice as many people in less than 2% of the area of Australia!
  • What I might eat: fish and chips

Aarhus, Denmark

denmark map3

  • Where is it: Denmark is one of the four Nordic countries and lies in Northern Europe
  • Distance from Australia: 16,160 kms
  • Language/s spoken: Danish (many people also speak English)
  • Currency and exchange rate: Danish krone, DKK1 = 18 cents in Australian money
  • Size (relative to Australia): 43,094 km2, so Denmark is less than 0.5% of the size of Australia
  • Population: 5.5 million people, so Denmark has 25% of the population of Australia but in only 0.5% of the area of Australia
  • What I might eat: Meatballs
Amsterdam and Rotterdam, The Netherlands
netherlands map3
  • Where is it: The Netherlands is in Europe and borders Germany
  • Distance from Australia: 16,690 km
  • Language/s spoken: Dutch and English
  • Currency and exchange rate: Euros, €1 = $1.34 in Australian money
  • Size (relative to Australia): 41,543 km2, so The Netherlands is less than 0.5% of the size of Australia
  • Population: 16.6 million people, so The Netherlands has 75% of the population of Australia but in only 0.5% of the area of Australia!
  • What I might eat: Bread, cheese and ham

19 days to go, some favourite books about …

… journeys, travel, London, England, Denmark, The Netherlands?

Amanda recommends:

1. Snobs by Julian Fellowes. Fellowes is best known as the creator and writer of Downton Abbey but he is also an accomplished novelist. Snobs was his first novel. Set in London and rural England, it tells the story of beautiful Edith Lavery who marries, but not for love, a wealthy English aristocrat. If you like Downton Abbey, you’ll enjoy this.

2. Letters from London by Julian Barnes. Barnes was the London Correspondent to the New Yorker for four years from 1990 to 1994. This book is a collection of his published essays from that period. For instance, in an essay called “Froggy, froggy, froggy” he describes the opening of the Channel Tunnel in 1994, which forever linked “old enemies” Britain and France (unfortunately we won’t have time to ride the Channel Tunnel on this trip). My favourite essay is the cautionary tale of the fall of Lloyds of London. A wonderful book.

3. The Stages: A Novel by Thom Satterlee. I mentioned this book in a previous post. It tells the story of Daniel Peters, a man with Asperger’s who lives in Copenhagen and works as a translator at the Kierkegaard Research Center. The novel starts with the murder of his boss and former girlfriend and the theft of a newly discovered Kierkegaard manuscript. Daniel is suspected and joints the hunt for the real murderer, although his Asperger’s makes it difficult for him to interpret the behaviour of others and to deal with the twists and turns of the murder mystery. The book paints a loving picture of Copenhagen and the Danish people, as well as a realistic portrait of living a life with Asperger’s.

Oliver recommends:

4. The Hobbit or There and Back Again by Oxford Professor, J.R.R. Tolkien. The quintessential travel story. A life changing journey. Oliver and I have been reading The Hobbit and we recently watched the first instalment of the three-part movie. We don’t expect our journey to be as eventful as Bilbo’s, although Oliver is willing to give Midsummer Night’s Dream a whirl at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre London if he is likely to see elves and dwarves!

5. Gangsta Granny by David Walliams. You might know Walliams as one half of the Little gangsta-grannyBritain team. This book is set in London. It tells the story of Ben who is sent to stay at his Granny’s house. He thinks she is really boring until he finds out that she used to be an international jewel thief and all her life she has plotted to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. Now that Ben is staying, she has the help she needs to do it. Oliver loved this book; it’s the reason we are visiting the Tower of London during our visit.

Do you have some favourite books about journeys and travel? Or favourite books set in or about any of the places we will visit?