Back in 2009, an unknown user by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto introduced a digital currency named “Bitcoin.” Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency which can be used to purchased goods and services without revealing a buyer or seller’s identity but also making it easier, faster and painless to exchange money with anyone anywhere in the world since there is no bank to oversee the transactions and aren’t subject to any countries’ regulations.

Think of bitcoins as the golden coins from Super Mario Bros in the video game. Say you purchased $100 worth of those coins at $1 each so now you have 100 coins; you log onto a website that accepts bitcoins and you purchase an item for $1, you simply need to send them one bitcoin without entering any personal data. Bitcoin is just one of the many cryptocurrencies being used in the digital world today; users can acquire them on exchange platforms such as Coinbase, Mt. Gox and many more. The value of a single Bitcoin has skyrocketed in the last few years, if you bought $1,000 worth of Bitcoin in 2010, today you’d be sitting on $35 million! The reason for this is more and more companies like Microsoft, and even governments are accepting Bitcoins as a legal currency.

IMG: Francis Storr. Bitcoin accepted here. Flickr

 

Japan – one of the world’s biggest economies and technologically advanced countries – recently approved Bitcoin as an official currency. Nowadays, travel enthusiasts who have embraced the bitcoin phenomenon can also pay using bitcoins on many travel booking platforms. The most recent list of companies accepting Bitcoins today includes Virgin Galactic (including Virgin Airlines), CheapAir.com, Expedia.com, and Bitcoin.com just to name a few. Some of these sites require that you use a special link to unlock the Bitcoin payment method.

While Bitcoins may seem attractive to some who wish to keep their identities private while performing transactions across borders, it is also a bit riskier (although more secure) than using cash because it is not insured by the FDIC. Personally, I have invested in Bitcoins only after seeing big governments like Japan and companies like Bank of America and others approve cryptocurrencies. Bitcoins are kept in a “cloud wallet” so there is no need to have any physical coin or currency. One simply needs to transfer their Bitcoin from their address to a seller’s encrypted bitcoin address. Think Paypal payments from email to email – just more complex and more secure without the need of an actual bank or financial institution.

 

IMG: Tobin. “The Bitcoin Jet.” Flickr.

The biggest question is usually “should I invest in cryptocurrencies?” and that will always remain a personal decision based on your own risk calculations after doing research to better understand the complex world of cryptocurrencies. Imagine a world where Bitcoins are widely accepted at retailers, online shops, restaurants, hotels, etc. It could even make traveling to some places safer since individuals would not need to carry any currency on them. More importantly, it would be convenient to not worry about converting currencies. Travelers who need to move around large sums of cash from one country to another could simply travel to a destination like Japan where Bitcoin is a legal currency without having to declare any large sum since it’s not being carried on you.

 

As an avid traveler, I’m always looking for opportunities that will allow me to travel more. Nowadays there are countless apps and money-saving ideas that can help achieve this. Bitcoins are also used as rewards by some travel sites such as HotelGO24.com, who will pay you in bitcoins simply for booking hotels through their site. You can choose to donate the bitcoins to a charity or send them directly to your Bitcoin wallet. For a list of places that accept bitcoins around you, you can use websites like coinmap.org that will help you locate businesses or ATMs that will let you conduct bitcoin purchases or transfers.

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