Well, it certainly comes in handy in many different places around the world. Growing up in the United States, I believed that everyone, everywhere, had 24 hour access to currency in all denominations, large and small. ´Sorry but, I only have a fifty dollar bill. Can you change this?’ ‘Of course,’ the cashier would respond. ‘No problem.’ Life was wonderful back then. Perhaps this is just my own nitpicking but I don’t understand why, in so many of the places that I’ve traveled, it’s so difficult for medium to large scale businesses, to make change. I understand and exclude the small-time street vendor but there’s no excuse for a bank (even when I have an account there) to turn me away. Try paying your taxi fare in downtown Quito, Ecuador, with anything larger than a five dollar bill. Try purchasing fruits and vegetables at the grocery store in Sao Paulo, Brasil, with large real notes. You’ll find yourself in a tight spot. It may have something to do with the variation and distribution of bills by their national government each year, or maybe the buying and selling power of the currency, or that week’s exchange rate, or some other financial, economic enigma that is beyond me. I have discovered on some occasions that they can break the large bill you’re trying to tender yet they’ll still ask you for something smaller. Have they been instructed to protect their small bills at any cost? Does the small bill fairy come in the middle of the night and abscond with the day’s takings, leaving nothing for the next business day? My advice for successfully avoiding these monetary impasses is to hang on to your smaller denominations and heavy coinage for as long as you can. Now, when they ask for something smaller, I respond with a polite, yet terse, ‘Sorry, that’s all I have.’ What I’m really thinking is, yes I have smaller bills but if I give them to you, I won’t have any left for the taxicab driver, the post office lady, the fellow at the pita bread and hummus stand, the sleepy-eyed fare collector on the city bus and the down-and-out lad on the corner asking for a small slice of charity. It’s all a part of my ‘hoard the small bills’ policy. It’s even better to go to your bank back home before you embark on your journey and cash in those larger bills for smaller ones. Then, upon arrival is some new locale, begin your supply of smaller denominations in the local currency. Going traveling? Making purchases? Trust me on this one.