MUST HAVE APPS
1. Tips for getting money, ATMs, credit cards, etc.
Check with your bank and credit card companies to make sure there are no foreign exchange costs when using your card abroad.
>> We suggest having at least two ATM cards if you travel as a couple, in case your card is compromised. (Yep, that happened to us.)
We have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
>> This had a hefty sign-up bonus we got soon before the trip!
We have a Hilton HHonors Amex.
>> John Luke used this card for a previous job, as he traveled quite a bit!
We have a Marriott Rewards card.
>> John Luke also used this card for travel at a previous job.
The total rewards points from these cards we had racked up scored us 18 free nights out of the 69 nights we spent in Europe. Take advantage of card offerings as you plan! You are already going to spend a lot of money on the trip, so why not take advantage of getting free hotel nights, flights, rental cars, etc.
Always remember these points mean nothing if you don’t pay your credit card bill…do not put yourself thru financial hardship if you cannot handle the temptation!
- Bank owned and operated ATMs are always the best option. Some banks have partnerships with Euro Banks but we use Capital One Bank and they don’t charge a fee to use another bank’s ATMs outside of the USA.
- Always debit the money (withdraw) in the local currency — do not choose to withdraw in USD. If you choose the conversion option you will be charged a convenience fee on top of getting a worse conversion rate (this generally will cost you about $10USD for every 200 EURO you withdraw).
- When you choose to withdraw money in the local currency for example in EUROs, your bank will make the transaction at the “ask” exchange rate which is best for you as long as your bank allows — just ask them, they will tell you!
- If the ATM tries to charge you a withdraw fee simply cancel the transaction and try another bank’s ATM. In Spain, some of the bigger banks tried to charge 5 Euro to withdraw (Santander, BBVA, Caixa). We carried a couple $100 bills with us just in case we got in a bind! Definitely, recommend you do the same.
- The option to pay in USD is a nice way to add 3%-5% in the convenience fees to your bill. That is no good! Double check to make sure you are not charged in USD. Sometimes they say they can’t hear/ understand you OR just assume you want to pay in USD. Yep, this assumption happened to us.
- Ask for them to correct it if they charge you incorrectly. Always check your bill especially at restaurants for correctness. They never seem to undercharge you 😊.
2. Know the worth of your money.
We like the XE Currency App!
- 0,87 Euros (they use a “,” instead of a “.” to differentiate dollars and change (Example: 1.99 is the same thing as 1,99)
- 22.5 Czech Koruna
- 280 Hungarian Forints
- 0,789 British Pounds
- 0,9869 Swiss Franc
3. Additional planning information!
Plan to lock your stuff up when you leave places. We recommend you bring this lock!
Plan to watch your things at all times. On travel days, John Luke used this passport holder to carry our passports under his shirt!
Plan to carry around a printed version of your passport!
Plan to spread out your credit cards and a little cash + leave a copy of your passport in a secret spot, in the chance of worst-case scenario.
Plan to take time for rest days!
Plan to always check airport names and train/bus station names as each city often has multiple.
Plan to check hours of operation for restaurants, especially in Italy and Spain. Random closings are common. Be flexible!
Plan to avoid restaurants on touristy strips. Low quality, high priced food. If the restaurant has to lure you in from the front with a person and pictures of the menu you probably won’t have a great experience.
Plan to buy water at grocery stores for cheap. At restaurants, you will pay up for water, so ask for tap water or bring your own.
If you ever feel pressured or rushed at a restaurant or tourist trap plan to just move along to somewhere else. Always okay to walk away!
Plan on the fact that 99% of the time when you ask people for help, people WILL help you. Be polite and patient as they might not speak great English!
Plan to make sure cabs use a meter if you have to take one. They are notorious for “guestimating” and you will get ripped off. We prefer Uber as there are fewer things to worry about and it is often cheaper!