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TT26 May 2nd, 2011 12:30 PM

How much cash to bring along
 
We are a family of 4 (Mom, Dad, 21 yr old son, 18 yr old daughter) travelling to the UK and Ireland this summer (2011). This is our first BIG trip of this sort and we need some advice and how much cash to take versus using our credit card or debit.
Is there a general "rule" to figure out how much to take?

What's already paid for:
Flights, most hotels, breakfast in London included in hotel, London's 2 day pass, Stonehenge bus trip.

The trip includes 4 nights London, 3 nights Dublin, 4 nights NI, 3 nights North England, 4 nights Edinburgh (1)/Aberdeen (2)/Glasgow (1).
We will need to pay for food, fuel for rental cars (see details below). We can factor in for shopping and souveniers once we know what we need to cover the necessities.

We will have a rental car for 4 days from Dublin to NI and back to Dublin.
We will then have another rental picked up in Glasgow, driving to Darlington England, Edinburgh, Aberdeen then drop off in Glasgow)
While in NI, we have an apartment style place so will be doing our own breakfast and making picnic lunches.
We are average size eaters and will have a drink or 2 when we don't have a rental car.

Somebody (a young girl working the counter at the currency exchange) suggested that for 2 weeks to England, we should take 800 GBP cash. I don't know if that would be for 1 person or not, nor if this is reasonable.

I do know that we need to notify the credit card company of the travel dates so they don't put a hold on the account.

Thank you,
Debbie

alanRow May 2nd, 2011 12:54 PM

I'd get £100 to tide you over until you find an ATM. Find out what your bank will charge for foreign withdrawals, tell ythem that you are going abroad and have the overseas contact number to hand. Same for credit cards.

LarryJ May 2nd, 2011 12:54 PM

Don't take any just use your regular bank atm card from home to get local currency from any of thousands of ATM machines. You will have your first chance to use an ATM at the airport upon arriving.

Larry J

alanRow May 2nd, 2011 12:57 PM

"We will have a rental car for 4 days from Dublin to NI and back to Dublin.
We will then have another rental picked up in Glasgow, driving to Darlington England, Edinburgh, Aberdeen then drop off in Glasgow)"

Both of those are weird - have you checked one way hires, flying from Belfast to Aberdeen, picking up a car there visiting Glasgow & Edinburgh then dropping off at Darlington - though if they are the only places you intend visiting then trains will be a better option especially as most of them are on one line and Glasgow - the odd one out - is an hour from Edinburgh

Michel_Paris May 2nd, 2011 01:09 PM

Don't bring cash except for a small amount to get you out of the airport. ATMs as much as possible, perhaps CC for larger purchases. Also ensure that your CC is billed in the local currency. Do not accept billing in US$

jent103 May 2nd, 2011 01:15 PM

I agree with the others - you'll get a much better deal if you want and get cash there. Get the £100 or so Alan recommended if you will feel much better about things, but otherwise - just get some at the airport.

Important: Let your bank(s) know that you are traveling. Otherwise your cards may be frozen. Also, check with the bank which issued your debit card and ask about partner banks. These will allow you to withdraw cash without the fee. Bank of America's partner bank in the UK is Barclays, if you happen to bank there.

I use my card for most everything when I'm in the UK, but there are several places which don't take them or have a minimum purchase requirement to use them. So you won't need tons of cash, but you will need some.

cathies May 2nd, 2011 01:18 PM

jent103 the original poster already said that she knows to tell her bank she is travelling overseas.

jent103 May 2nd, 2011 01:47 PM

Pardon me - didn't read carefully enough, I suppose. Well, it's an important point to emphasize! :)

griz_fan May 4th, 2011 11:08 AM

generally, good advice. I can understand how this can be a bit intimidating the first time you go, I was in the same spot last summer. But, thanks to the sound advice here, everything turned out OK (mostly). We landed in Shannon Ireland with about $18 in our collective pockets. But,a quick trip to the ATM at the airport, and we were set.

I did encounter a problem while in London that could have really derailed our trip. I had a Capital One money market savings account with an ATM card (great for low fees). No problem using it in Ireland or our first 3 days in London, but then it started to fail at every bank and ATM that I tried. Fortunately, I had my regular bank ATM card. Using my netbook PC, I was able to transfer funds from from my Capital One account to my primary checking account and use that for cash. So, be sure to have a backup, just in case.

Now it looks like you are also trying to get a grasp on a food & drinks budget for each day. That is a bit more difficult, because there are so many options. I'm generalizing quite a bit, but where you're going, expect to pay a bit more to eat in restaurants than you would in a typical US city (maybe 10-15% more?). a lot will depend on the exchange rate when you are traveling, though. But, not to worry, you will have so many options, I wouldn't expect much trouble finding a place to eat that would fit nearly any budget. To get a better feel of what to expect, Google restaurants in each of your destination cities. Quite a few will have online menus and prices (especially the larger chains). That should give you a reasonable estimate of what to expect. Also, checkout the local outdoor markets. Lots of great places to eat. While in London, be sure to visit the Camden market and the Borough Street food market.


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