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 Some travel advice needed!

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Standard Procedure
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 12:55 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I'm going to be going through Europe this May with a tour group. Since the hotel and accomodations are taken care of, my only concern would be the spending money. I was wondering what was the best way of having money in hand, but would be secure (To a certain extent) at the same time. I have been researching into prepaid traveler's credit cards and traveler's cheques, but they all have fees involved, which, as a student, is a little difficult for me to afford. Is there anything that can be used to have cash on hand as well as a bit of security?

Also, how much do you believe I would need for a three week trek, which involve the countries of France, Monaco, Italy, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands? I'll be in the major cities. I would prefer the currencies in Euros.

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kleindoofy
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:07 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Regardless of the fees, Traveler's Checks are definitely the way to go.

The risk of having cash stolen is just to high for a tourist. Using credit cards to get money from ATMs is much more expensive than the fees for Traveler's Checks.
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Standard Procedure
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:13 am Reply with quoteBack to top

One more question, for the major cities, do they have wi-fi similar to here in Toronto (Which is terrible as hell!)? I'm thinking of maybe taking my laptop, but my parents say it's just an extra load on my back, and it's better to not take it...

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kleindoofy
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:18 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I'd leave it at home. Strange things happen when you're travelling and things get lost and broken. Travel light.

There are plenty of low-cost internet cafés around these days. No need to drag your own machine around.
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Standard Procedure
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:24 am Reply with quoteBack to top

The issue of pocket money. For the countries specified in the OP, how much would I need approximately for three weeks? Some days, I will have to pay for all three meals (And McDonald's isn't considered a meal). I have decided to put aside ~1000 Euros for three weeks. Is that too much or too little?

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kleindoofy
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:30 am Reply with quoteBack to top

EUR 50/day (EUR 1000/20 days) should be ok, depending on your tastes.
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Standard Procedure
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:34 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Thanks for the info Klein! Does anyone know what the best deal for a one day tube pass in London is, if any?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:36 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Get one of those wallets that hang around your neck and underneath your shirt. I've been to Rome a few times, and although I had no problem with pickpockets, I wasn't taking any chances.

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kleindoofy
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:39 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Standard Procedure wrote:
... the best deal for a one day tube pass in London ...


It's not very expensive. You can get one straight off at all the major stations. One day, 48 hours, or weekend, if I recall correctly.
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Standard Procedure
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:44 am Reply with quoteBack to top

but does the pass cover all routes or certain specified ones?

EDIT: Never mind, just found out...

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kleindoofy
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:49 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Ever heard of Google? Wink

http://www.londontoolkit.com/briefing/underground.htm
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Standard Procedure
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:58 am Reply with quoteBack to top

notice the EDIT Smile

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 2:04 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Make sure that your CC company knows you will be traveling. Have their international phone number ready. Have the front page of your Passport photocopied and in your check in luggage. No not just the front cover.

Expect to be offered a chance to spend another thousand Euros in side trips. That's how the tour companies make some extra money. Consider what you want to do on these day trips that are have not been paid for yet. Don't forget money for tips for maids, drivers and tour directors. They appreciate your consideration.

To be footloose and fancy free...

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 6:51 am Reply with quoteBack to top

And there are also loads of ATM machines around, so getting cash in most European Countries should be OK.
With the Euro's around here, it is pretty easy to take the money with you to the next country (except for the UK).

M.
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Standard Procedure
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 7:38 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Well, I'll be in London for half a day, and I might be spending part of the day at the home of my parents' friends. Anything I might need for London apart from the one day pass (Which I calculated it to be ~$30CAD)?

Thanks for the advice everyone!

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 7:57 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

I have found that when in Europe the cheapest exchange rates I got were using my credit/debit card. Plus, it was safer than carrying cash. I was in Ireland for about 15 days and it cost me an arm and a leg (around $3500, but that was my honeymoon and I had the wife with me). So, if you are conservative, you can definitely live on $1000.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:11 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Standard Procedure wrote:
The issue of pocket money. For the countries specified in the OP, how much would I need approximately for three weeks? Some days, I will have to pay for all three meals (And McDonald's isn't considered a meal). I have decided to put aside ~1000 Euros for three weeks. Is that too much or too little?


In the Netherlands you could live of 50 euros a day, however depending on your taste and other things you wanna do. Public transfer, for example, is freakinggggggg expensive, while you might get a nice sandwich and juice for 5 euros. Pizzas (margherita ones) go for about 6 euros. A super size McDonald's meal will do it for 6 euros. Restaurants can be found in all sorts of price ranges. Sandwich shops generally are below 5 euros. In large touristy areas, mainly in Amsterdam, there are many facilities aimed at tourists, including food supply, but please use common sense and don't get ripped off! Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:32 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Quote:
France, Monaco, Italy, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands

And all of this in three weeks...

I think you should consider doing a bit less. You'll spend a lot of time travelling between all these places, and if you visit less of them, you'll be able to enjoy them a bit more.

If you are going with a group and the planning is finished etc, there is probably not much you can do now to change this, but I seriously think that you should get rid of at least half of your list. If you spend only a day in places like Paris, Rome or Berlin you haven't been there at all. Take at the very least three days for each of these cities.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 8:39 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

^All you really WANT to see is the Netherlands anyway. Wink

[motherly advice]Make sure you always have a toothbrush and clean underwear in your hand luggage in case they loose your suitcase in one of those airports. Plus a bit of extra cash. So many flights - you are bound to loose your suitcase at least a couple of times [/motherly advice]

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 9:06 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Standard Procedure wrote:
Well, I'll be in London for half a day, and I might be spending part of the day at the home of my parents' friends. Anything I might need for London apart from the one day pass (Which I calculated it to be ~$30CAD)?


An A-Z, which is the most commonly used street map. I have a mini one I no longer use, which I'll send you if you want it. Smile And if you are just going to make a couple of trips on the Underground, it might be cheaper to pay for them separately using a pre-paid card called an Oyster card.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 23, 2007 9:28 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

chris_walken wrote:
I have found that when in Europe the cheapest exchange rates I got were using my credit/debit card. Plus, it was safer than carrying cash.


This is also my experience.

Credit and debit cards will charge you a 1% exchange fee, but that's on the interbank exchange rate. Your debit card may also charge you a fixed fee (3-5USD or so) per withdrawal.

Using TCs is a pain in the ass. If you go to an exchange booth, you will pay a nasty transaction fee on top of an exchange rate that is inferior to the interbank rate. If you go to a bank, the rate won't be much better, and you'll have to wait in line.

Taking out cash on your debit card to pay for small transactions and putting larger transactions on your credit card (when possible) is the strategy that I've used for over a decade.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2007 3:24 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Whenever I travel to Europe, I always carry 500 euros' worth of American Express traveler's cheques for emergencies only. But my primary method of payment and cash withdrawl is from both a Euro-denominated and a UKPound-denominated American Express Travelers Cheque Card (see this linky).

[EDIT] American Express, it seems, has a nice and convenient table of comparisons for various countries. Take a look: linky

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2007 3:38 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Hmmm. Things must have changed. It used to cost lots to use non-ECcard credit cards on European ATMs, up to EUR 10 per withdrawal.

@SP

Nevertheless, whatever you do, travel as lightly as you can. Leave everything at home that you don't absolutely need. After three days you're going to be cursing every pound of weight, every bag, every loose thing you have to pack and carry around.

The less you take with you, the happier you'll be.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2007 4:11 am Reply with quoteBack to top

I can also specifically advise against bringing hiking boots unless you're really going to do hard core hiking.

Bring a single pair of walking shoes. If you get a pair that are all brown or all black (instead of multi-colored sneaker looking), you can wear them with just about anything.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 24, 2007 2:50 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Don't forget to visit Belgium !
The U.K. based members will probably be laughing their heads off, but over here you can find the best beer in the world (hic!) Confused .
Mind you, you'd probably need to increase your budget slightly... Razz
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