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How much cash to bring on 2 week trip to Paris and London?

How much cash to bring on 2 week trip to Paris and London?

Old Apr 28th, 2013, 04:57 PM
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How much cash to bring on 2 week trip to Paris and London?

My family and I are taking our first trip to Paris and London this July, we have 4 people, myself, DH, DD 11yrs old and DD 7 yrs old. We will be there for 2 weeks, 1 week in each city. I was planning on getting our currency here and was wondering how much I should bring. I was planning on using the cash to pay for most things there, food, tickets (for public transportation, museums,etc,) and small purchases. If we want to make a larger purchase, I was planning on using credit card. From reading this forum, it seems that is the way to go. I also thought it would be a good way to stick to a certain budget, when we go on trips I don't usually realize how much we spent until we get our credit card statement back. I just don't know how much I should bring. I know both of these cities are pretty expensive, we want to see all the sites. I don't want to eat at any fancy, expensive restaurants b/c we have young children, we're fine with fast, inexpensive food. We are staying at hotels so preparing our own meals won't be an option.
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Old Apr 28th, 2013, 04:59 PM
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None - use ATMs!
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Old Apr 28th, 2013, 05:01 PM
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Bring ZERO cash! Use you ATM debit card to get cash.
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Old Apr 28th, 2013, 05:16 PM
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One word, ATM. Extra words, tell your bank ahead of time that you will be traveling, ditto your credit card companies. Search here for multiple threads on ATMs and fees.
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Old Apr 28th, 2013, 05:27 PM
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I'm afraid you have misread the advice here.

You should pay for any sizable cost with your credit card and use ATMs to pull walking around money from yuor checking account for smaller purchases.

Any pounds or euros you buy here will be very expensive - probably both a fee and a really bad rate of exchange.

If you want to get $100 or $150 worth of pounds to have a little cash - then just change it at the airport - since changing any place in the US will give you an awful rate of exchange.

What you are planning to do will be like throwing 8% to 10% of your money out the window.
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Old Apr 28th, 2013, 06:13 PM
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Good advice above.

We carry debit cards from 2 banking institutions--one a bank, one a credit union--so that if one doesn't "work" for some reason, the other will. In general, the ATM has to use the same network (like Pulse) that your card says it uses--icons usually on the back. Our credit union has less fees involved, so we try to use that card. So if you have time, you may want to check into this option.

Do make sure you let all your financial institutions know about your travel--credit cards, debit card issuers, etc. Sometimes there are "locks" on a country or city if an institution has had some fraud so be sure you have no issue. (Probably not London or Paris, but just communicate.)

And be sure to monitor your account as much as you can. I won't go into details, but there are all sorts of frauds possible--we've experienced one with debit card and one with credit card in the last 3 months, despite our oh so careful attention, both in the States and overseas.
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Old Apr 28th, 2013, 06:58 PM
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one other tip ... get a credit card that does not charge a foreign transaction fee (such as Capital One)
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Old Apr 28th, 2013, 08:18 PM
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Thanks for everyone's responses. I thought I read somewhere that the exchange rates are better if you get foreign currency here in the US. I guess I was wrong. Around how much does an average meal cost in those cities? I would like to take out money from an ATM only a few times during my trip b/c I know my bank charges for using outside ATM's. So, I want to try to calculate around how much I would be spending on food.
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Old Apr 28th, 2013, 08:27 PM
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Try to remember where you read that and junk the source. If you get a credit card that charges 0% (Capital One) or 1% (Credit Union) foreign exchange fees you will need less cash.

What do you mean by an average meal? Take out sandwiches from Pret a Manger (take out saves paying VAT)? Fish and chips? Three courses at a good restaurant? Don't you have a guidebook? Pick some eating places from the book that look good to you, look them up on the web, and read their menus. Remember that the prices will include tax, and you don't tip over 10%.
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Old Apr 28th, 2013, 08:28 PM
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Oops, 10% in the UK. Less in Paris.
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Old Apr 28th, 2013, 08:33 PM
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Wherever you read that is nuts. There's no average price of a meal in Paris or anywhere. You can spend as much as you like on food in Paris. Some people think nothing of spending 100E or more for a meal, and some live on crèpes and sandwiches. There is no tipping in Paris, and the bill includes all service charges, so no need ever to pay more than the stated price.

If your bank charges for using ATMs outside its network you might want to join a credit union or bank that does not and put your trip money into that bank. No banks in France charge for ATM withdrawals, so if you have a US bank that doesn't, you'll pay nothing.
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Old Apr 28th, 2013, 09:26 PM
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ATM.. the only way but be sure to advise bank the timing and toughly the wheres. Credit card also. To save charges, if any, do not take out small amounts..Put excess in a money belt and only have a few bills in hand.
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Old Apr 28th, 2013, 09:43 PM
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Use ATM card or debit card in the ATM to get cash when you get there.

I notice no one has mentioned that credit cards should not be used in the ATM. I thought that was supposed to be a bad thing.

Also remember that London and Paris have different currencies. So don't take out a large sum from the ATM on the last day in the first city (unless you are planning to go back next year) because you can't use it in the second city. Of course, if you are planning on returning to England or a country that uses the Euro it is always good to have a small amount of money left over from a previous trip.
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Old Apr 29th, 2013, 02:05 AM
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Money is definitely an important thing, but I would say most people are right when they say $100 a day rather then $50 a day...I just got back from a week's stay and with 2 people, your going to average $40 or more a meal most of the time...per person. You can save by going to McDonald's or fast food restaurant, but you get what you pay for.
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Old Apr 29th, 2013, 04:53 AM
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I'm going to agree with all the advice above:

cash: Just get cash out of an ATM. Even though your bank may charge $3 (obviously check first), that is better than losing 10% on getting it now. Plus you have the security of not dealing with the safety feature of carrying lots of cash.

I went to my bank, opened a second checking account and put double what I thought I would need. That way, my maximum liability was limited to that money and not tied to my larger accounts there.

(what is your plan to safeguard all this cash? Are you using a moneybelt?)

credit: Find a no-exchange fee credit card. We used our British Airways one endlessly (has a chip so can use it in train stations) and actually found we used cash less this time because of the wide acceptance of credit. Having said that, I understand your reasons for wanting to use cash instead.

safety/security: think smart and be prepared if there is a problem - then it becomes a non-issue.
- Clean our your wallet - no need to take all the normal junk in your bag.
- each of you can carry a different credit card. That way if there is a problem, you have a backup.
- Each of you carry a different ATM card (see above).
- Make a copy (front and back) of the credit card. Start an email with it as an attachment and leave it in the "draft email" folder. If there is a problem, you can access this remotely - with the non-US phone numbers and call and cancel a card.
- Make a copy (inside pages) of your passports. Save in draft email like above. IF you need it - if there is a problem - much easier with a copy of pages.
- Teach the kids to be wary and to work together especially traveling through train stations. I have a pretty frank conversation with mine before we go anywhere reminding them that things we take for granted (ipods, ipads) are easily gone. When we go between cities on public transportation, all electronics must be in my backpack together.

Even though I list all the above precautions and sound paranoid, I'm not. I was pickpocketed in Paris, when traveling alone about 10 years ago (I wasn't being aware and made some poor decisions). It wasn't a big deal because I had $20 in cash and a credit card taken. I used my metro ticket and went back to my hotel, took out my copy of my credit card and cancelled it immediately. I had a backup in my hotel, so I pulled that out and used it. Not a big deal and not something to ruin my vacation, but I didn't let it be a big deal. Of course, I want to avoid that happening again though!

Have a great time with kids - I'm just finishing trip reports from a recent trip. Enjoy!
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Old Apr 29th, 2013, 05:07 AM
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KylaKevin - where HAVE you been eating? You certainly do not have to eat at McDonalds to spend less than $40 on a meal. You need to do more research.
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Old Apr 29th, 2013, 05:20 AM
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Surfmom - what do you say to your children when they notice that nearly everyone else on the train or bus is using an i-pad, i-pod, smart phone, tablet or laptop?

Do you really believe that all the local residents in Europe are out to steal your possessions?
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Old Apr 29th, 2013, 05:21 AM
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While I agree w/ most posts above, I would urge you to get $100 local currency here in the States for convenience upon arrival-- time is money and checking out isolated (not attached to bank) or exchange booths at airports is not how we best function at 6 am on little/no sleep. We use this for newstand purch & fares via bus/taxis/train to our hotel. Yes we purchase multi-day metro/underground passes. Then, going forward we use ATM during open banking hours in case of issue, for cash withdrawals of about $200-300, keep half in room safe, then half split between us. Sorry, but we use credit cards for all meals and hotel. A travel journal updated daily keeps tabs on expenses and serves as a treasured souvenir after many years. Take cabled (Pac-safe or Travelon) wide-strap small bags worn toward front to hold valuables, sometimes those moneybelts are inconveniently inaccessible, and definitely wear clothes w/secure pockets where camera is kept. So much clothing now provides little zipped areas for i-Pods & wires, but it works for cash & cards too. Never been a backpack fan as dont have eyes in back of head.
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Old Apr 29th, 2013, 05:50 AM
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chartley, once we get on the train, (ie. Eurostar or long-haul) of course, we get out i-devices. However, if we are just on the metro or tube in town, there is no need for them (short trips.. I don't believe kids need to be glued to them). In fact, when we are just around town, we don't carry i-devices around (other than phones).

Of course I don't believe that everyone is out to steal my possessions. However, my kids are not city kids and I give them the same advice when we go to NYC or DC. I think teaching them to be careful of their possessions is ultimately a good thing and of course, there is more risk when you travel than at home.

I was pickpocketed - yes, I made some poor decisions at the time, but that doesn't mean "it was my fault". However, I think that the fact that I wasn't freaked out by it, I just made some phone calls and cancelled cards, and got out my backups... is a great example of how a few minutes of planning for the unexpected can make a difference if a problem occurs. Do I still take the same precautions? yes. Do I freak about them? No.

Traveling with kids adds an extra level of risk - because you have more stuff and people to be in charge of. There are times I need all eyes helping and paying attention and asking the kids to be aware is just basic safety and security.

If I thought all local residents are out to steal my possessions why would I travel there? In the last 5 years, we've been to London/Paris (2x), Norway/Sweden, and Italy. I love to plan trips and travel with my family - I have no intention of stopping (assuming we still accrue ff miles!).

I certainly didn't intend my post to be one of paranoia. I just want people to think and take a few precautions. I'd like to think that my experiences can help other families who travel.
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Old Apr 29th, 2013, 05:51 AM
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Oh, for heaven's sake, how many times do people have to be told that money belts are NOT SUPPOSED to be accessed in public? They are for passports, cards and money you will not need that day, and should be worn under your clothes (if you're female, try it with the pouch at the back). One day's cash and (maybe) one card should be somewhere else. Forget those silly waist packs.
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