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Heading off to our 18day Eurotrip soon - 3000€ for 2 people? Enough?

Heading off to our 18day Eurotrip soon - 3000€ for 2 people? Enough?

Jan 28th, 2015, 01:43 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
The typical fee for buying Euros from a bank in the States or Canada is 12%, plus a very poor exchange rate, far more then what you would be charged simply taking the cash out of an ATM as needed, and not have to worry about carrying around a lot of cash.

If you have a credit card that has no foreigh transaction fees, you're in even better condition, especially when paying for lunch, dinner or shopping.

Bank of America is the only bank I'm aware of with agreements in using certain ATMs (no fee) when abroad; Barclays (United Kingdom), BNP Paribas (France), BNL D’Italia (Italy) and Deutsche Bank (Germany), nothing in Greece or Portugal.

Scotia Bank in Canada is part of the same Global ATM Alliance.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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I did have a problem in Rome last year with ATMs. We were there over a holiday and the ATMs in the area near our hotel ran out of money. Coupled with a one day bank strike, this meant that no one was refilling the machines. I needed cash to pay for a Vatican tour but was able to contact the tour company to get them to allow me to pay with a credit card online. When we got closer to Vatican City, we did found ATMs with cash. . . but we checked five or six near us and all were empty.

Your bank fee of $5 is high--depends on where you live, but we pay $2-3. Actually, we don't pay anything as we use USAA and they rebate the fees as they don't have local banks. Can you find a better deal than your current bank? http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banki...king-accounts/

The risk of carrying cash, plus the exorbitant fees you pay to convert to local currency, make ATMs a no brainer, with a credit card as a backup.
happytourist is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 01:55 PM
Join Date: Feb 2014
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>>was there ever a time when ATMS do not work in Europe? <<

In all the places yuo are going in Europe the ATMs are just like those you would find everywhere in Canada. The only time you would have a problem is if there was some weird one-off meltdown of a computer or electrical network.

When using European ATMs, it is always best to use ones that are part of a bank building. That is to say, don't use free-standing ones in train stations and don't use ones inside convenience stores. It is very common to find ATMs in Europe embedded into the walls of banks, with access from the sidewalks. Since there are two of you, one of you uses the ATM while the other looks around to make sure all is secure.

What my husband and I would do when we needed more cash and were newbies in a city is that we would plan to get it just before lunch. Once we found the restaurant we would be eating at, we would look around for the nearest ATM and use it, then walk immediately to the restaurant. Then when we were inside the restaurant, we would divvy up the cash when we paid the bill and hide it in various places on our persons. That way, we never ran the risk that somebody had watched where we put the money after getting it from the ATM and followed us, and we never divvyed up money in a public place.

All this is an excess of caution but we thought it was better to be silly weenie ninnies than take a chance on thieves being smarter than us. And like I said, the biggest reason we don't take cash is that when we are tired from jet lag and maybe not getting a enough sleep in foreign hotels, we know it is easy to lose track of even important things.
sandralist is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 02:00 PM
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Bank of America is the only bank I'm aware of with agreements in using certain ATMs (no fee) when abroad; Barclays (United Kingdom), BNP Paribas (France), BNL D’Italia (Italy) and Deutsche Bank (Germany), nothing in Greece or Portugal.

No more, although I do not remember if it is the $5 flat fee for using a non BofA ATM or the 3% added to the conversion.
Michael is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 02:05 PM
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The flat service fee of $5 is not charged when using one of the ATMs in the Global ATM Alliance, but yes, BofA will hit you with the 3% fee for all transactions, which is why we normally use credit cards (with no foreign transaction fees) to pay for just about everything and keep some cash on hand for incidentals.
Robert2533 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 02:16 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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you will have to pay fees to get your cash anyway, so better get it as you go along from ATMs rather than pay through the nose to get it from your bank. and if you have a credit card that doesn't charge for foreign transactions [there are still a few] pay for as much as you can on credit card. This is what I'm planning to do on my trip to Venice next week - I have €200 left over from my last trip and I'm just taking that with me.

all europeans use ATMs all the time so if you've got problems, so have they! I usually carry a small amount of money [say €100] in cash just in case - your c/card should tide you over if there is problem as the banks have a lot of pressure on them to get their systems up and running again very quickly if they do crash. Really it's not anything to worry about.

as for your budget, €5 each should get you a decent breakfast in most places [fruit juice, coffee and a pastry] and if you want to have a good sit-down meal, have it at lunch-time when prices are generally cheaper, especially if you can find places offering a 3 course menu. [menu del dia in Spain]. soft drinks and coffees are often as expensive as wine and beer [or even dearer] so don't think that you are saving money by having a coke! Also most places will serve you tap water if you ask for it, rather than expensive bottled water.

if you are sensible, your budget should be ample; buses and undergrounds are cheap [except in London] but it makes up for that with the free museums.

Finally, i shouldn't worry about the cost of lunch in Brussels - you're only going to be there for 1 ½ days!
annhig is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 02:29 PM
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A bit of advice from foot-sore experience ... in London/Paris you will walk a helluva lot more than u think you will ... and you may do so much walking getting TO a sight (a street, a church, a museum, a park) that you'll be too foot-weary to get the most from it. So get underground tix; I think in Paris u can get a 10-trip ticket strip, that's 5 each, and in London a 3-day? pass good for all Central London. U get these at ticket windows in stations, not ahead of time. Then for inst, you can do the Tube to the Abbey, Parliament, walk up Whitehall etc till u are exhausted, then find a tube station to get to your hotel.
BTW, please pay for the VERGER's TOUR at Abbey -- it's the BEST way to see the Abbey, I've done it otherwise & I know. You get there before 9:30 when abbey opens & u can get tickets at desk. Your (small) group skips all the lines, and sees stuff others never see. The Vergers (clerics) know things nobody else can tell u.
travelerjan is online now  
Jan 28th, 2015, 02:38 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Travelerjan: there is no 3 day travel card in London . . . There used to be,years ago. But no more.
janisj is online now  
Jan 28th, 2015, 02:43 PM
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CHECK on YOUR bank's most recent charges. They have changed recently for BofA for instance.
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 05:27 PM
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You have enough money to pay for entrance fees, local transit and modest eating. Assuming breakfast is a coffee and roll in a cafe, that lunch is a picnic or a basic sit down meal (sandwich shop or similar) you should be able to have a decent dinner as long as you are careful. (For perspective, we do one special dinner in each city we visit - upscale restaurant with multiple courses and decent but not expensve wines and we assume 300 euros for the two of us).

But you can find lots of modest restaurants as long as neither of you is a very big eater. Be aware:

Portions are generally smaller than in the US so many people have more courses - but you can share an appetizer or dessert

Soft drinks tend to be very small and very expensive (and no ice) - so either drink basic wine or beer or tap water with meals (learn the local name for tap water or you will be given bottled; the usual question in europe when you ask for water is fizzy or not)

Basic wine and beer are usually modestly priced, hard liquor or mixed drinks tend to be very expensive

Do NOT eat any place that has menus in 8 languages, menus with pictures or have a guy at the door hauling in diners - they will have poor food and very high prices

All places have menus outside so you will know what you are going to pay - and watch out for the menu - bargain price for 2 or 3 courses but usually very limited choices
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 08:05 PM
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Robert2533, There are lots of banks that change USD to Euros for 5% over the spot rate. I've used Wells Fargo repeatedly, and once found a place in NYC where I could buy euros for 103% of the spot price, with no extra fees. If one doesn't have a no-foreign-exchange-fee ATM card, then changing into euros ahead of time can actually be cheaper, since you have to pay the bank's one-time fee plus a three percent conversion fee.

My wife's ATM card was eaten by an Italian bank's ATM machine on a Friday afternoon. If I had not had a wad of cash plus credit cards our trip would have been completely ruined. I simply will not travel to Europe with less than 1,500 euros; I've never lost a dime to theft, but I do use an under-clothes money belt.

With that said, I used to carry some backup US money in case I ran out of euros. On my last trip I did run out of euros and found that it is now virtually impossible to exchange US currency. So on my next trip I do plan to open a travel account with an ATM card, but I still will exchange a considerable amount into euros before I travel.
FHurdle is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 08:28 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
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And back to the OP's question concerning budgeting. She should have plenty of money so long as the couple don't plan to do much dining at sit-down restaurants.

I would say don't plan on eating ANY meals in London at sit-down restaurants. The prices are high, and if you can keep your expenses down in London you can do it anywhere.

In Paris, may I suggest that you have a supper at Chartier in the Opera District. This is a proper French restaurant, but had it's beginnings as a low-cost workers' eatery. They have kept to the low-cost philosophy, and it will likely be cheaper and possibly better than any other sit-down meal you have in Paris. You may have to share a table with strangers, though.

In Europe I've found that mayonnaise and mustard are sold in tubes, so they can be easily carried for instant picnics. Carry a couple of heavy duty plastic wine glasses with you and you can put together some great picnics to eat in public parks.

Since most of your basics are prepaid, food is going to be your major expense. This is something that you can control, if you just accept that you aren't going to be able to have lots of really nice sit-down meals in some cities.
FHurdle is offline  
Jan 28th, 2015, 10:01 PM
Join Date: Dec 2013
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I just looked at my list of favorite eateries in Rome, which has places of all walks/styles. Of the 19 venues, at 18 we have meals for between 5-40 euros per person. We are big eaters and (wine) drinkers. Only one place totally goes over that (around €150 per person, it is our favorite michelin starred place). You will be perfectly fine with your budget.
vinoroma is online now  
Jan 29th, 2015, 12:18 AM
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It is very rare nowadays to book a decent hotel without breakfast included, so double-check what the situation is.

If you check out too early for breakfast, many hotels are willing to prepare a pack to go with basic breakfast items for you, so do not be affraid to ask. It might be wise to purchase some supermarket or grossery items and prepare for your transit days, rather than relying on pricey airport or train station food.

I see a very fast paced trip here and I doupt you will have stamina and time for many sit-down meals. One word of caution though: Many people tend to buy stupid snacks while on the move, like chocolate bars and crispies and the like, those are pricey and in reality leave you hungry after a while. Better to buy a decent sandwich or souvlaki or crepe instead and if possible sit on a bench and allow 20 minutes to eat in leisure rather than walk and chew at the same time. Part of it has to do with psychology, but you will not feel hungry too soon if you take a proper bite.
Depending on your schedules, many museums feature cafeterias and restaurants. Many of them are pricey and offer mediocre food, but some have decent prices and food is good. Athens Acropolis Museum's restaurant comes to mind as a place to check out for example. If you are tired and haven't finish your visit, it might be better after all to have lunch inside a museum rather than go to the typically touristy places you will find in the surrounding area. Check before hand what is reccommended and what is not.
mariha2912 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2015, 02:11 AM
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"It is very rare nowadays to book a decent hotel without breakfast included"

Not the case in most London hotels. Breakfast is usually an extra and can cost up to £25 pp in some hotels. The cheapest we've found in the last few years has been £11 ish. If you look to see if there's is a Wetherspoons pub near where you stay, breakfast is around £6 pp, but you'll almost always find a local place with inexpensive food, except perhaps in central London. A Cafe Rouge type place offers breakfast for around £9 pp.
Rubicund is offline  
Jan 29th, 2015, 05:19 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
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I may be wrong but I didn't notice anyone ask. You said all flights and hotels were paid for. How are you getting from city to city? By air? If not, are the trains paid for already?
casperjj is offline  
Jan 29th, 2015, 06:06 AM
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>>>My wife's ATM card was eaten by an Italian bank's ATM machine on a Friday afternoon. If I had not had a wad of cash plus credit cards our trip would have been completely ruined.<<<

Why didn't you use your own ATM card? I carry ATM cards from two different banks.
kybourbon is online now  
Jan 29th, 2015, 06:28 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Maybe if you stay in expensive hotels in London breakfast isn't included. In the B&B type hotels I stay in a full English breakfast is included (e.g. http://www.ridgemounthotel.co.uk or http://arosfalondon.com ) Throw in a Pret a Manger sandwich (yum) for lunch (if you take it out to picnic you don't pay VAT) and free museums and there is plenty left for a good dinner.

BTW, if you want a version of afternoon tea in London the V&A museum has huge scones and clotted cream, and three gorgeous rooms to eat in. Much, much cheaper than a posh hotel.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 29th, 2015, 06:31 AM
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Well, as B&B is short for bed and breakfast, I would certainly expect that meal to be included. ;-)
Heimdall is offline  
Jan 29th, 2015, 06:47 AM
Original Poster
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@casperjj, we are flying into most cities, but going to Amsterdam and Brussels by Thalys - which we have already paid for.

The transportation that we have not bought are the subway metro tickets for sightseeing
MsWorthy is offline  

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