Going on the London and Paris trip for total of 8 days on the tour - will have 2 days in London prior. May need cab fare and simple meals - How many pounds and euros should I bring?
Credit cards in London.
Don't "bring" any. If you need or think you will need local currency, get it there from an ATM.
I've had issues with stores/restaurants not taking a credit card (Germany) and also use of an ATM in one other places. These were not touristy destinations, so you'll probably be fine. But it only has to happen to you once to persuade you to bring local currency. Plus if you have leftovers, you can use it as a portion of your tip and/or bring it home as an excuse for needing to return.
Just a suggestion if you have some leftover local currency near the end of a tour. Why not pay it forward? If you're standing in line for an ice cream cone or a pastry and notice a family with young children behind you, give some of your cash to the cashier and tell her/him to apply it as a credit to the family's bill. Just a simple act of kindness...
.We always arrive in Europe with the equivalent of $50 in local currency. It’s a comfort thing. We usually spend it. Credit cards are often not accepted by street vendors. “American money” is not accepted at all and please don’t offer it!
You are correct Cathy, currency changing in the UK is so easy compared to in the US, you just walk into any bank.
Well, I doubt they would turn down a tip in dollars. But unless you are visiting a country with currency issues where dollars are the preferred exchange you are leaving the person you tipped a hassle. They have to now exchange that tip for their currency. If you went to the supermarket tomorrow would you accept your change in Canadian currency? Of course not. Then why do you think someone in London or Paris should be tipped in dollars?
You use a credit card...it exchanges the money.
You use a credit card...it exchanges the money.
Don't fall for the currency conversion scam where a merchant asks if you want the credit card to be charged in USD. You will pay way too much. Always pay in the local currency where you are.
Here's an article that describes some of these kinds of scams: https://www.rewardexpert.com/blog/currency-exchange-how-not-to-fall-for-legal-money-scams-when-traveling-overseas/
The people you give the tips to, they are the ones who go to the banks. I believe you can even change money in some post Offices. The British travel abroad way more than Americans they are used to changing currency.
Great article BKMD…excellent explanation for using ATM and credit cards abroad!
This may get 'flagged' but if you go to the Rick Steves website, under TRAVEL TIPS, there is a MONEY section - with LOTS of areas to read and learn. While we LOVE Tauck for tours - we learn more on the Rick Steves page and with his book EUROPE THROUGH THE BACK DOOR - a book we re-read every time we go to Europe - you can get it on his site or it's often cheaper on Amazon. I recommend this book to anyone traveling to Europe - plus, the back of the book is full of info on each country in Europe.
Anyway -in the TRAVEL TIPS section - the MONEY area of it talks about cash vs CC, how to remove cash, etc.
For us, we have found it really depends on where you go in Europe and what time of year you go (if you go for a festival or the Xmas Markets - most ALL vendors will want cash). Many of the small, local restaurants also want cash. One of our favorite restaurants in Vienna and in Salzburg is CASH ONLY.
After reading his website and book, we have learned it is best to take cash out of BANK ATMs (bancomat) using your Debit Card - so we always find one at the airport when we land - or if you are in a decent-sized town - there will be MANY ATMs thru town and lots also inside local banks. Definitely avoid cash exchange kiosks. Use ATMS hooked to a BANK (bancomat) only - avoid 3rd party tellers//ATMs
Def call your bank and let them know which countries you will be using your Debit Card in, so it's not blocked. We also get our daily max allowance increased so we can remove more cash each time (there is a small fee each time you take cash out of ATMs).
We are going on the Ultimate Alps and Dolomites trip next month and probably won't need much cash (Euros & Swiss Francs).
BUT, we are going to the Xmas Markets in Dec and we will need LOTS of cash those 2 weeks - so the amount really depends on the area and time of year.
Def check out those TRAVEL TIPS on Rick Steves - lots of other info too like train tickets, renting cars, packing, planning, etc.
And the article above that BKMD posted is crucial for everyone to understand.
And if you donate to PBS channels, Rick Steves books and cds are often the gift. Got them all a couple of years ago
I second Terrilynn's comments. It's a different world on the Rick Steves website. His forum has people who take his tours, use his guidebooks, many travel independently and some actually live in the countries up for discussion. It is primarily limited to Europe but for that it's incredibly useful. They do make a bit of a religion of carryon only travel so it's a great place to pick up tips. The categories are different too - Destinations, Tips/Trip reports, and Hotel/Restaurant reviews. (They also don't allow flagging or reactions)
On the money issue, we normally get a small amount of local cash ($100 worth at a time) mostly for just small purchases like postcards, drinks, etc. but do charge most things. If I don't want the currency at the end of the tour I can either include it in the tips or spend it at the airport. Had fun using up my swiss francs at the Zurich airport. Chocolate!
Clarification: when I mentioned using local currency for tips I was referring to tips for the bus driver and tour director on land tours. Though certainly you can tip others as well.
I’m an alumnus of many Rick Steves tours. On money (here is a link to that page https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/cash-tips) I agree with what most of what he says. But, personal choice, I always land with about $100 in whatever foreign currency I need. Yes, the exchange rate for that through my bank here is lousy, but it’s only $100. When I get off the plane I’m bleary and weary. The airport ATM’s are there but I hate putting down all our stuff (carry on bags only, as you would guess) and having my wife stand guard while I play with the machine. And private ATM’s such as Travelex, Euronext, etc seem to proliferate in airports and tempt you with large signs that say things like FREE WITHDRAWALS. It’s a lie. Lousy exchange rates, hidden fees. So you may have to hunt for a bank affiliated ATM. I’ll use my pocket full of local currency, cab to the hotel, wash up and later find a bank related ATM, preferably inside the bank in case that machine eats my card. Over the years we’ve gone from using mostly cash to using mostly credit cards. Several friends who have recently returned from Europe commented that contactless credit cards, Apple Pay, are becoming the norm, even among artisans and other street vendors. They used little cash. (I’m making sure my chips work before leaving for Spain next month). Tipping: it’s a tough topic, so I’ll preface my comments with this: it’s your money, spend it as you wish. But tipping is different in Europe. Here we tip generously because service people are paid so poorly they depend on it. In most European countries servers are professional and well paid. Often the service charge is itemized on the bill, but even if you don’t see it it’s in there. For extraordinary service, or an unexpected treat, like that comped dessert we’ll leave a few Euro’s (or whatever local currency). But, to leave a 20% tip when a service charge is included? The staff is probably still telling this story. Here is an old but good article from AAA on tipping : https://mwg.aaa.com/via/travel-tips/how-much-should-you-tip-around-world. Not to beat a dead horse, but tip in local currency, unless you are in a place like Argentina where the currency is on a race to the bottom and dollars are more than welcome. No, your dollars will not be turned away. But that server cannot spend them for a beer on the way home. She will have to go to a bank (when it’s open as ATM’s will not accept foreign currency deposits) and deposit them, so it is a chore. However I was told by a barista in London several years ago that it was a status symbol to snort cocaine with a US dollar, so there you go.
Folsomdoc, I assume you mean you pay for a cab to the hotel on Rick Steves tours as your ride to the hotel with Tauck is free including tip.
We have been to quite a few countries that prefer dollars
Yes that is what I meant.