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Money Matters

travel Updated: Jul 16, 2011 12:51 IST
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So you've got your backpack ready, your visa done, numbers and addresses all in a book and ready to catch that flight for the all Euro trip but do you have a good plan for a small thing known as Forex? 

If you are anything like me, clumsy and horribly bad with money... here are a couple of things you should know and take care of before you depart for your journey.

Non-Euro using countries: While most of Europe has switched to single currency 'Euro', there are still some countries like Switzerland, Scandinavia and Eastern European countries, which are still operating with their former currencies.

Traveller cheques: Okay, they maybe touted as an easy and safe way to carry money however; practically they do not make much sense as finding a bank to exchange cheques for money can be quite a harrowing experience. Remember banks have a closing time.

Usage of cards: Debit and credit cards are a better way of spending in Europe primarily because of two reasons. One, the rates offered while using a debit card are marginally better, second, you can withdraw money anytime and anywhere from an ATM.

Preferred cards: Widely accepted in Europe are Visa cards, followed by MasterCard and Maestro. If you have an American Express card, leave it at home, because majority of places do not accept them.

Cash Transactions work better:
Paying by cash will help you avoid charges your bank will slap you with for each transaction you do using their debit or credit card. Expenses from travel, stay, food and leisure activities are all fixed so you can always pay for them by cash.

Where to get the best deal: Avoid buying currency from the airport, train or bus stations. You will get the worst of exchange rates from here. The sure shot place to get the best of currency deals are the local post offices, especially in the United Kingdom. They do not charge any commission. However, if a PO is not available it is best to rely on ATMs over currency kiosks as the banks will give you better rates.

Avoid touts: Do not get tempted by the oh-so-lovely rates they offer, more than not, it is a way to dupe you.

Pick pocketing nightmare: As unfortunate as it is, you do not want to be stranded in a foreign country without your things, one, your verification details and two, money. Pick pocketing is a seen in countries like Spain, Italy and Greece so keep your wallet safe. Do not carry too much cash and if you have to split the money keep it in different places.

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