Knowing the value of your money while traveling through Europe is a must! They don’t use dollars after all, and you have to get used to their currency. Most of the countries we travel in use the Euro, so knowing the value of a US Dollar vs the Euro is very important. You want to know how much of your hard earned money you are spending!
I’m writing this on December 20th, and the currency news today is not all that great for travelers. You have to give up two Dollars to buy one British Pound! Wow! In my twenty years of traveling it has never been worse! What that means for us is that the 7 Pound fish and chips lunch actually costs $14! Yikes! And the 5 Pound Shakespeare ticket is really $10. So be aware of the high cost of things in London. Don’t however, let it keep you from seeing and doing the things you want too. All total, the cost of your entire trip is less that a decent used car, and packed with a lot more wonderful memories.
The news about the Euro is also rather grim today. It costs $1.36 to purchase 1 Euro. So, if you are shopping in Florence and the leather purse you really want is listed for 30 Euro, simply multiply the Euro price by the exchange rate of 1.36 and you have its price in dollars — $40.80. Be sure you make these calculations before you buy anything! Keep track of your money! Know what you are spending!
You should arrange to bring an ATM card. ATM machines are everywhere we go, and it is so convenient to hit the ATM and withdraw a few days worth of currency, stash it in your money belt, and pay for things in Euros! The old days of bringing all the cash you need, or bringing travelers checks are history! Don’t bring US dollars to exchange for local currency! The fees for exchanging currency are steep and unnecessary. The exchange rate you will get through an ATM machine is by far the best. Check with your bank and make sure your ATM card will work overseas. Make sure you arrange a withdrawal amount larger that the usual 24 hour limit.
I still bring a credit card for large purchases and in case of emergency. Just make sure you keep it safely stored in your money belt! Some wish to use their debit cards, but for some reason those don’t always work. My advice is to use an ATM and spend local currency! It is much more convenient!
How much money should you plan on spending in a given day? Well, if you are a shopper here you will be a shopper there! Keep that in mind. As far as lunch, some of the dinners, a few extra entrance fees and transportation to things on your own, I would say to plan on something in the neighborhood of $35 per day. But again, that does not take into account the shoppers out there! I have had people spend thousands and I have had people spend less than $100. You need to know yourself on this one.
Hope that helps a bit regarding money. Folks, it is more expensive this year than any year I have ever traveled in Europe. But again, don’t let that keep you from things you want to do! Just plan ahead and enjoy every sight, sound and bite of our great trip through Europe! Hey, it’s only money!