Currency exchange cards - your flexible friend abroad
In times gone by, when you were on the Grand Tour for example, a signed photo of Queen Victoria was all you needed to buy you a vast array of goods and services on your holiday. Maybe. Now though, you have a choice: wade through the queues to pick up traveller's cheques, get yourself a Nationwide Flex Account and pay 1% on purchases if you holiday outside Europe or take a chance on using cash machines in your host country which you'll no-doubt spend the entire first week of your holiday looking for.
Or you could always get a currency exchange card. It's basically a debit card for the pay-as-you-go generation, a bit like traveller's cheques but without the pain of. You get the actual card from someone like CaxtonFX - theirs costs a tenner but they put that on the card's opening balance, load up the minimum amount in dollars or euros and then jump on the last Ryanair flight out of Nowheresville. Bosh.
You will get stung with charges though if, having found the only ATM in your resort, you use the card to withdraw cash. Otherwise, you can use it or its fellow cards in places wherever they accept Mastercard or Visa as these networks back many of them. You can't go overdrawn because you can only spend what's on the card but you can also top it up pretty much whenever you want. If you're really geeky, you can load up the card when the exchange rate's good instead of doing it just before you go away when you can guarantee that the pound has tanked against pretty much every other currency including the Zimbabwean dollar.
It's not a perfect holiday spending solution, those fees when you withdraw cash are a bit annoying and there are plenty of pre-paid cards on the market that aren't as good as Caxton's but I predict it's going to, um, take off in a big way.