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How to take money to Europe

So here you are after months, perhaps years of saving up your finally ready to go to Europe for a trip of a lifetime be it a couple of weeks or several months, the question on every first time backpackers lip’s is how do I carry it after all you can hardly just stuff a couple of thousand Euro’s in your pocket and set off. So how do you carry it?

Cash

Some people and travel sites would recommend you take enough currency for the first three or four country’s you pass through but in reality all you need is enough to get you by the 1st couple of days, so you don’t have to worry about exchanging or withdrawing money straight away. So enough for the first hostel’s accommodation and other expenses for the first few day’s should suffice.

+ Can use it as it is.
+ Easy to exchange for goods.

- Lose it your screwed, little chance of getting it back.
- Poor exchange rates when swapping it on the road for the next destination’s currency.

ATM/ Debit card

The ATM is the travellers best friend especially in somewhere like Europe where you cant move for the things. Easy to use and a great ways to carry your precious funds. Although remember to make sure you contact your bank to let them know you will be travelling as your card may be stopped for fraud reason’s. Also worth finding out if your bank will issue a spare card encase the first one break’s or is stolen, although very few do this so perhaps split funds between two different account’s that you could easily transfer money between.

+ Easy to use
+ Almost everywhere has ATM’s
+ Good exchange rate
+ Card is easy to carry

- Bank’s may charge a fee, so withdraw larger amount’s
- Lose your card or gets stolen, you wont be able to access your money
- Fraud happens, although rare and its not just Europe it happens be aware.

Credit card

The important thing to remember about credit cards is to remember it is credit the money is not actually yours, so watch out for big bills when you come home! Withdrawing cash from a credit card is usually a very expensive option as interest is charged at a very heavy rate. Credit cards are more secure that debit card’s and usually have greater protection on them. So good perhaps for big purchases or buying off the internet i.e. accommodation, hostelworld etc..

+ Greater fraud protection than Debit card
+ Good if you run low on funds

- Generally high interest on cash withdrawals
- Not everywhere will accept Credit card’s

Traveller’s Cheques

Once extremely popular with the traveller these have been widely overtaken by the ATM, Poor rate’s of exchange and lack of places to exchange them. Great back up option in case of emergencies. Also easy to cancel if stolen and get your money back. Just make sure these are not your main source of funds in Europe.

+ Good backup if you lose your main means of funding.
+ If stolen easy to cancel and get you money back.

- Poor rate of exchange
- Not widely accepted
- Carrying several around can be a nuisance and a hassle.

Illustration by Marie McLaughlin

Timada
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Thanks for the list, quite a few useful tips I will remember. I haven’t traveled abroad very much, only once and I had a lot of difficulty finding a bank that would accept credit cards I had. I plan to avoid any complications on my holiday to the black sea this year.

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Hi, I’m Stephanie and I really want to go to Europe, but I have absolutely no idea how much money shoudl I take with me, and I’m planning to visit at least 5 countries… I need help!

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Hi, I’m Stephanie and I really want to go to Europe, but I have absolutely no idea how much money shoudl I take with me, and I’m planning to visit at least 5 countries… I need help!

I see you have set up a eurotrip. Add some of the countries and places you plan to visit as well as the time frame on to the application. Then myself and other’s will be able to give you some more help with the answer. A lot of people recommend $100 a day for a comfortable budget trip in Western Europe. I would say at least try to plan $80 to make it doable in the classic city’s that make up a European itinerary.

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This is also a good resource to consider when taking the credit card route. As long as you are diligent about paying back your credit card debt, you can apply for a Capital One card, which allegedly charges “No Foreign Transaction Fee.”

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A traveler’s caveat: always be prepared to try more than one ATM, believe me it doesn’t matter if you are in europe or asia, the ATMs dont always do what they say they should. So be on the lookout out for ATM companies that consistently work and print up a list of their ATM locations. Very useful.

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A traveler’s caveat: always be prepared to try more than one ATM, believe me it doesn’t matter if you are in europe or asia, the ATMs dont always do what they say they should. So be on the lookout out for ATM companies that consistently work and print up a list of their ATM locations. Very useful.

Yeah great point, You don’t want to lose your card after all!

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Also good to note…VISA is probably the best credit card or debit card brand to take with you.
It’s more widely accepted than MasterCard. Don’t even bother with a Discover Card.
==
curtis@How to Save Money

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hi davy, um i had a question my best friend Mona and I are going to 10 countries, i did make a eurotrip, and i was wondering how much money would we need for 22-23 days for food and traveling by train? we are going to be in europe for 30-31 days but we are staying with family for part of the time and we dont need to buy food or transportation.
We have budgeted 6,000 for the two of us for everything. so a little assistance would be amazing. thanks so much!
Sammi and Mona

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Your budget should be plenty, the general rule most people have is to budget $100 a day per person for a very relaxed budget style trip in western Europe, Although i believe it can be done fairly comfortably on $80 a day with cutting a few corners. So your budget should be fine. I have also left another couple of comment’s on your trip in your trip planner.

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I’m pretty certain that you can do the whole thing for less than $80, but that’s if you’re staying in one city for a whole day, eating cheap meals, staying in a cheap hostel, and not doing much travel-wise.

I know for me, some days are going to be more expensive than others. I plan to go see Disneyland Paris for a few days when I go in the Spring, and that’ll be a tidy little sum right there.

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There’s no doubt it’s possible, but would not really recommend averaging your initial budget out to be much less if your wanting to have a bit of fun and not have too many worries about your budget while on the road.

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this is awesome thanks for the advice! also that 6,000 includes 1,000 for plane tickets roundtrip or both of us…so i guess 5,000 for trains, ferries, food, partying, and hotel. i have looked it over and i think we are ok.
thanks a million
sammi and mona

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Great article and good advice! I was over in Europe with summer (Rome et al) and found the best way to deal with money was to use ATMs for cash (which is preferred) and my visa card for bigger purchases. I have a Capital One visa and they wave the 3% currency transaction fee. Make sure your credit card doesn’t charge this. ~ Steve@displays

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Usually when I travel abroad I use cashiers checks and convert my money into the countries currency. As stated before use your credit cards wisely because most credit card companies will charge money to convert the currency. I haven’t tried this method personally but you could buy a prepaid credit card in the country you are visiting. This would eliminate the need to carry large amounts of cash around.

I hope this helps

Mike Booths

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The only time I’ve ever been robbed while traveling was when a number of travler’s checks were stolen from my hotel room. I have to hand it to the thieves. They took all the checks from one envelope, and took half the checks in the second envelope and put them in the first envelope. So even though they had taken half my checks, at a cursory glance everything appeared normal. It took me 2 or 3 days to realize I’d been robbed, and by then I was miles away. Pretty sneaky sis!

Of course the checks were refunded without hassle (well, without too much hassle), but I’m glad I wasn’t carrying cash that night!

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Hi Stephanie, I asked the same question just a week ago the best thing i did was to search forums and ask people who have already had their trip of a lifetime and ask how much they needed.

I’ve found that most saved up between £4,000 and £10,000 Myself i want to visit 9 countries so i will save around the £12,000 just to be sure. for you judging from what i’ve heard in forums i’d recommend around £5,000/£6,000.

Please anyone else give their opinion, i am in no way a knowledgeable source Smile

Hope all goes well for you and your trip!

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When I went to Europe, I just brought like $100 US emergency cash, and my debit card. I used the debit card to get cash in ATMs, and to buy stuff in stores if the amount was great enough (over 10€).

I’m not sure how my bank does it, but it seems like they only charge a one time fee of $7.50 to use the ATMs overseas. Maybe it is $7.50 a month or something?? I’ve never been abroad using ATMs longer than 1 month, so I’m not real sure, but it has always been just that one-time fee anytime I go abroad.

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I’m planning on a 73 day trip the summer after graduation, but i don’t know how much my budget should be, so far i’ve planned to visit 15 countries. any suggestions??

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You should budget at least 50 euros/pounds per day, plus transportation.

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Capital One seems to be the way to go! Just wondering if anyone knows how much the ATMs charge you from their banks? Or how that works? We leave on the 22nd of this month for 62 days and I don’t want to be carrying around wads of cash!

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I’ve never had a foreign ATM charge me fees for being a non-bank user, like they do here in the US. And this was in both France, Holland, AND Fiji. So I wouldn’t worry about it unless you hear specifically that a certain country or bank does it. I would just withdraw a few hundred euros/pounds at a time to avoid YOUR bank’s fee on foreign transactions. It’ll either be a flat rate, like $1-2, or a percentage, usually 1-2%; sometimes you get really lucky and your bank won’t charge you, or if you have Bank of America, they don’t charge if you use their partner banks’ ATMs in other countries. It’s Barclay’s in the UK, Deutsch Bank in Germany, etc. (check their website for full details)

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Travel Cards:
Some countries now have travel cards. I speak specifically of Australia where several banks use Visa. The cards (you are issued with two) are preloaded with either USD, Euros, GBP. (not all currencies available) The currency exchange rate is applicable on the day the card is loaded. A pin is issued and the card is used much the same as a credit card using atm’s. A fee is charged by the bank for the initial currency load and the card is valid for 12 months. If required longer another fee is applicable. The Atm’s used will levy a small fee for each transaction so its more economical not to draw lots of small amounts. Access can be set up so you can transfer further funds from your bank account online if the card gets low; can also view your balance online on the banks secure website as you would with an ordinary account. This card avoids the hefty currency exchange fees that are levied on credit Cards (now around 3% of a cr card transaction.

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Has anyone ever travelled with the Pre-paid travel cards?
Me and my boyfriend are looking at 2-3 months all over Europe, we are going to drive as we are from England and its easy to get the Ferry across they tour Europe in our car Smile
We are wanting to use the Prepaid cards as over her you can get them where you load them with money from your Bank account and it is converted that day at the current Business rate and then you know exactly how much you have at the start of your trip, and you don’t have to relay on the conversion staying stable.
Has anyone got any advise or opinion on these cards, they are completely free to apply for and to load,you just have to pay €1.50 per ATM withdraw in Europe and free for any other payments, you can also use them on the internet.
We thought they would be a good idea but just wanted to check see if anyone has had any problems with them?

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Ask your bank how much you can withdraw per 24 hours, and consider adjusting the amount. Some travelers prefer a high limit that allows them to take out more cash at each ATM stop, while others prefer to set a lower limit as a security measure, in case their card is stolen.

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