Newbie international traveler

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createplayact
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Newbie international traveler

Post by createplayact » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:17 am

The wife and I are taking our first international vacation (Switzerland / Germany). Here's the advice I gathered online over the past few weeks, which also led me to the Fidelity Cash Management Account.

1. There's no need to stuff my wallet with foreign currency before leaving and pay high conversion fees in the States. I can just use ATMs to pull local currency once over there.
2. I'll use the Fidelity Debit card linked to my CMM account to withdraw local currency with no ATM fee and low currency exchange fees.
3. Credit card use at local restaurants, etc isn't as common as in the States. I should plan to pay for more with cash. I do have a no-fee CC to use if possible.
4. I bought an international SIM card for my wife to use pre-paid data on her phone. (I'll have full capabilities for text / talk / data with Verizon on my work phone).

Sound reasonable as far as this working well? Any other key things I'm missing?

dsmclone
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by dsmclone » Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:54 am

A couple of things.

1. Unless your credit card issues different numbers for each credit card, I always give my wife one credit card and I keep the other. For awhile I thought I was being ridiculous, then my wife lost her wallet in Belgium. I also make copies of our passport and put them in a cloud app like Google Drive.

2. I never had a problem using ATM's until about 2 trips ago. My card kept getting declined and I couldn't figure out why. I later figured it out that I was trying to pull out more than the maximum. Know your limits and convert them to Euro.

3. I always hear about how important it is to have a credit card with chip and pin. This hasn't been my experience. I will say that almost everywhere seems to accept cardless payments so using something like Google Wallet works wonderful.

4. Orange holiday SIM card worked wonderful.

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fortfun
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by fortfun » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:39 pm

createplayact wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:17 am
The wife and I are taking our first international vacation (Switzerland / Germany). Here's the advice I gathered online over the past few weeks, which also led me to the Fidelity Cash Management Account.

1. There's no need to stuff my wallet with foreign currency before leaving and pay high conversion fees in the States. I can just use ATMs to pull local currency once over there.
2. I'll use the Fidelity Debit card linked to my CMM account to withdraw local currency with no ATM fee and low currency exchange fees.
3. Credit card use at local restaurants, etc isn't as common as in the States. I should plan to pay for more with cash. I do have a no-fee CC to use if possible.
4. I bought an international SIM card for my wife to use pre-paid data on her phone. (I'll have full capabilities for text / talk / data with Verizon on my work phone).

Sound reasonable as far as this working well? Any other key things I'm missing?
I think Schwab ATM card is slightly better than Fidelity's for International. I'd recommend one of each. You keep one and spouse keeps the other. That way, if you have any problems or lost cards, you have a backup. That's what we did last summer. Plus, I got $100 for opening the new Schwab account. Only use it for international travel. Many places, in Germany don't take cards, so you will definitely need to use the ATM there. Switzerland is a little better about taking cards. You should take at least two cards each. Keep one locked in hotel for emergency. Also, we took 1 page copies of our passports. It expedited the checkin process at hotels, hostels, vrbos, etc. Have fun! I really recommend the middle Rhine and Lauderbrunnen regions.

rjbraun
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by rjbraun » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:45 pm

Notify credit card companies and banks in advance of your travel dates and destinations. Otherwise, you run the risk of your activity getting declined.

Try to use ATMs during normal business hours. That should make things a bit easier (still, not great), if the machine doesn't return your card.

Try to have a couple of credit cards and ATM cards, in case one of them doesn't work or gets misplaced.

As in your home country, make sure that the ATM machine doesn't have a device to read your password or that no one is looking over your shoulder as you enter your code.

When using your credit card, decline an offer to have the charge converted to USD; better to pay in the local currency (EUR or CHF in Germany and Switzerland, respectively).

Traveler
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Traveler » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:52 pm

I wouldn't go overboard on the cash but do take out a few hundred Euros/Francs upon arrival and use it as needed. Most places do take credit cards (Visa and MC more so than AMEX), but you may come across small stores or restaurants that don't. Some housing (booking.com, smaller hotels, etc) may require cash payment so you might have to get money out on several consecutive days to accommodate that. Most of all, enjoy your trip!

oxothuk
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by oxothuk » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:28 pm

If possible, stay your last night at a hotel which you have NOT prepaid in advance. That way you can use the hotel bill to soak up any leftover currency you have at that point.

stan1
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by stan1 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:37 pm

I prefer to use ATMs that are inside a brick and mortar bank. Also you may find that some bank lobbies have multiple ATM machines. Some give out 50 or 100 euro notes (which I find to be unhelpful) while others only give out smaller 5, 10 or 20 euro notes. If you end up with large bills by mistake you can exchange them with the teller on the spot. Twenty years ago hotels could exchange a large bill for smaller bills/coins, but these days the hotel front desk staff get a perplexed look on their face when asked to make change.

HawkeyePierce
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by HawkeyePierce » Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:39 pm

rjbraun wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:45 pm
When using your credit card, decline an offer to have the charge converted to USD; better to pay in the local currency (EUR or CHF in Germany and Switzerland, respectively).
This is important. It's known as "direct currency conversion" and is pitched as a convenience to you, but in reality it's a chance for the merchant and their bank to rip you off. DCC can add 2-8% to your bill! Always decline.

If you aren't given the chance to decline, you can dispute the transaction with Visa and Mastercard. Merchants who don't give you an option are breaking the rules and you'll usually have a pretty easy time winning the dispute.

Topic Author
createplayact
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by createplayact » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:23 pm

Thanks all for the advice!
oxothuk wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 2:28 pm
If possible, stay your last night at a hotel which you have NOT prepaid in advance. That way you can use the hotel bill to soak up any leftover currency you have at that point.
I was wondering about this. We've already pre-booked our three hotel nights (the rest of the time we'll be staying with friends). If we overwithdraw, Is there any way I can deposit our unused swiss francs and / or euro?
fortfun wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:39 pm
I think Schwab ATM card is slightly better than Fidelity's for International. I'd recommend one of each. You keep one and spouse keeps the other. That way, if you have any problems or lost cards, you have a backup. That's what we did last summer. Plus, I got $100 for opening the new Schwab account. Only use it for international travel. Many places, in Germany don't take cards, so you will definitely need to use the ATM there. Switzerland is a little better about taking cards. You should take at least two cards each. Keep one locked in hotel for emergency. Also, we took 1 page copies of our passports. It expedited the checkin process at hotels, hostels, vrbos, etc. Have fun! I really recommend the middle Rhine and Lauderbrunnen regions.
Have fun! I really recommend the middle Rhine and Lauderbrunnen regions.
What's better about Schwab's? Also, we are spending two days in the Lauderbrunnen region. Looks like beautiful country! :)

LifeIsGood
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by LifeIsGood » Mon Apr 15, 2019 5:44 am

Don't forget to notify your ATM and credit card providers of the dates you will be out of country and what countries you will be visiting. Most providers have a way to set up travel alerts on their web sites.

alfaspider
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by alfaspider » Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:37 am

I wouldn’t overthink the cash situation. The advice about places not accepting cards is a bit outdated- it’s rare to find a place in Germany or Switzerland that does not accept cards and you could conceivably get by with no cash at all. The only caveat is that small purchases like paying for public toilets use contactless payment systems, which don’t work with many U.S. cards. Also, Oktoberfest is cash only.

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NavyIC3
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by NavyIC3 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:32 am

I was wondering about this. We've already pre-booked our three hotel nights (the rest of the time we'll be staying with friends). If we overwithdraw, Is there any way I can deposit our unused swiss francs and / or euro?

You can always exchange money at the airport on the way home. This is not the best thing though because the exchange rate is not great and you have to pay a commission but at least you end up with dollars.

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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by eddot98 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:49 am

NavyIC3 wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:32 am
I was wondering about this. We've already pre-booked our three hotel nights (the rest of the time we'll be staying with friends). If we overwithdraw, Is there any way I can deposit our unused swiss francs and / or euro?

You can always exchange money at the airport on the way home. This is not the best thing though because the exchange rate is not great and you have to pay a commission but at least you end up with dollars.
Our plan is to come home with about 40 or 50 euro, so that on our next trip we are not running to an ATM as soon as we land. It’s worked well for us.

mmmodem
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by mmmodem » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:54 am

As above already stated.

5. Notify your banks with travel dates so they don't deactivate your cards due to automatic fraud alerts.

We went to Europe for 2 weeks a couple years ago and paid for just about everything with credit cards. I wasn't worried about fraud as most restaurants we went to had handheld credit machines so we were in sight of our credit card at all times. A travel agent told us once that you really only need about ~50 Euros worth of cash. This will get you a taxi to 99% of any place you need to be in an emergency. That's all we carried and we wasted it away on trinkets on our last day in Paris as we never needed it.

It probably needn't be said anymore but make sure your cards have a chip in it. A lot of places were surprised our US credit card had a chip in it. I think this is common place now in the US (finally) but I still have two cards that do not have a chip.

Oh and free WiFi was so plentiful that we didn't need an international phone plan. Google maps works without need for cellular coverage. Just pre download the maps at the hotel. There was always a familiar fast food joint at the next corner we could use to text back home. Even without a phone plan, I think my wife was able to Facebook every minute detail of our trip back home at least once every 2-3 hours between meals.

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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by SRenaeP » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:43 am

alfaspider wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:37 am
I wouldn’t overthink the cash situation. The advice about places not accepting cards is a bit outdated- it’s rare to find a place in Germany or Switzerland that does not accept cards and you could conceivably get by with no cash at all. The only caveat is that small purchases like paying for public toilets use contactless payment systems, which don’t work with many U.S. cards. Also, Oktoberfest is cash only.
I wouldn't call it rare. I was in Germany in September and encountered plenty of places that were cash only. Offhand, it is probably the place I used my CC the least of any other place I've been. It is highly unlikely the OP can get by with no cash.

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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by SRenaeP » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:46 am

dsmclone wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:54 am
3. I always hear about how important it is to have a credit card with chip and pin. This hasn't been my experience. I will say that almost everywhere seems to accept cardless payments so using something like Google Wallet works wonderful.
Chip and PIN is important if you want to use unmanned kiosks found at train stations, gas stations, etc.

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KSOC
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by KSOC » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:34 am

fortfun wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:39 pm
createplayact wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:17 am
The wife and I are taking our first international vacation (Switzerland / Germany). Here's the advice I gathered online over the past few weeks, which also led me to the Fidelity Cash Management Account.

1. There's no need to stuff my wallet with foreign currency before leaving and pay high conversion fees in the States. I can just use ATMs to pull local currency once over there.
2. I'll use the Fidelity Debit card linked to my CMM account to withdraw local currency with no ATM fee and low currency exchange fees.
3. Credit card use at local restaurants, etc isn't as common as in the States. I should plan to pay for more with cash. I do have a no-fee CC to use if possible.
4. I bought an international SIM card for my wife to use pre-paid data on her phone. (I'll have full capabilities for text / talk / data with Verizon on my work phone).

Sound reasonable as far as this working well? Any other key things I'm missing?
I think Schwab ATM card is slightly better than Fidelity's for International. I'd recommend one of each. You keep one and spouse keeps the other. That way, if you have any problems or lost cards, you have a backup. That's what we did last summer. Plus, I got $100 for opening the new Schwab account. Only use it for international travel. Many places, in Germany don't take cards, so you will definitely need to use the ATM there. Switzerland is a little better about taking cards. You should take at least two cards each. Keep one locked in hotel for emergency. Also, we took 1 page copies of our passports. It expedited the checkin process at hotels, hostels, vrbos, etc. Have fun! I really recommend the middle Rhine and Lauderbrunnen regions.
Good tip on the Schwab Bank. Zero Foreign Transaction Fees. I think I'll need to open an account before our trip overseas.
Too soon old, too late smart.

HawkeyePierce
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by HawkeyePierce » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:40 am

SRenaeP wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:46 am
dsmclone wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:54 am
3. I always hear about how important it is to have a credit card with chip and pin. This hasn't been my experience. I will say that almost everywhere seems to accept cardless payments so using something like Google Wallet works wonderful.
Chip and PIN is important if you want to use unmanned kiosks found at train stations, gas stations, etc.
A lot of these now accept Apple/Android Pay, which gets around the chip+pin problem. I was able to use Apple Pay at an unmanned Renfe train ticket kiosk in Madrid a few months ago with a chip+sig card.

If you do want a chip+pin credit card, First Tech Credit Union has one with no annual fee.

My travel wallet contains the following, in descending order of how much they get used:

1. Citi Premier Mastercard.
2. Schwab debit card.
3. First Tech credit card (only when I need chip+pin).
(then a big jump in how often each item gets used)
4. Chase Sapphire Preferred
5. First Tech debit card.
6. Barclays AAviator Mastercard.
7. $300 in USD.

Mastercard often has *slightly* better FX rates than Visa, but it's not a huge difference.

Items 4-7 are my backups in the event one of the first three fails (ATM eats a card, stolen, whatever). I keep them separate from the first three. When I was recently in Spain I just carried a few euros and my phone since Apple Pay was nearly ubiquitous. Left all the cards in a hotel safe. In countries where contactless isn't as common I usually only carry one credit card when I'm walking around plus a little in local currency.

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lthenderson
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by lthenderson » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:45 pm

dsmclone wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:54 am
2. I never had a problem using ATM's until about 2 trips ago. My card kept getting declined and I couldn't figure out why. I later figured it out that I was trying to pull out more than the maximum. Know your limits and convert them to Euro.
I would add that in some countries, the limit you can withdrawal can be significantly less than your limit here in the U.S. I have visited some third world countries where the limit was less than 20% of the limit in the U.S. which took me quite awhile to figure out. Also, sometimes my ATM card won't work at certain ATM's and will in others. When you find one that works, make note of the bank associated with it which makes finding one easier the second time around.

alfaspider
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by alfaspider » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:48 pm

SRenaeP wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:43 am
alfaspider wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:37 am
I wouldn’t overthink the cash situation. The advice about places not accepting cards is a bit outdated- it’s rare to find a place in Germany or Switzerland that does not accept cards and you could conceivably get by with no cash at all. The only caveat is that small purchases like paying for public toilets use contactless payment systems, which don’t work with many U.S. cards. Also, Oktoberfest is cash only.
I wouldn't call it rare. I was in Germany in September and encountered plenty of places that were cash only. Offhand, it is probably the place I used my CC the least of any other place I've been. It is highly unlikely the OP can get by with no cash.
I suppose it depends on where you are. Rural communities are probably more likely to be cash-based. Card worked everywhere for me when I was in Munich and Stuttgart last fall.

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midareff
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by midareff » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:53 pm

Converters and chargers for cells, tablets, cameras. Very comfortable shoes.. and avoid the lug type soles which can catch on uneven surfaces. Flat sole sneakers recommended for long days on your feet. Download area maps before hand on Here We Go, snap a screen print before you leave your hotel so you know where you were. Another useful app is Where is Public Toilets. Make sure you have so 50 Euro cent or 1 Euro coins before you leave the hotel for the day .. public toilets can charge or be scarce in Europe when and where needed.

bluebolt
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by bluebolt » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:16 pm

If you don't have Global Entry, download the mobile passport app if you are returning to a port of entry that accepts it:
https://mobilepassport.us/

Take a photo of your passports and store in Google Drive or email to yourself. In case they get stolen/lost, it will expedite getting a replacement.

Bring a rechargeable USB lithium battery. Helpful to top up your phones when you're on the road.

I found the following adapter useful:
https://www.amazon.com/Ceptics-CTU-9C-E ... B01N14AV3K

Many people (myself included) swear by their noise cancelling headphones on long flights.

Download Tripadvisor and Yelp and use them to help find good restaurants. If you are bringing any guidebooks, buy them for Kindle and view on your phone/computer instead of carrying the book.

Download the Google Translate app.

Starfish
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Starfish » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:41 pm

createplayact wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:17 am
The wife and I are taking our first international vacation (Switzerland / Germany). Here's the advice I gathered online over the past few weeks, which also led me to the Fidelity Cash Management Account.

1. There's no need to stuff my wallet with foreign currency before leaving and pay high conversion fees in the States. I can just use ATMs to pull local currency once over there.
2. I'll use the Fidelity Debit card linked to my CMM account to withdraw local currency with no ATM fee and low currency exchange fees.
3. Credit card use at local restaurants, etc isn't as common as in the States. I should plan to pay for more with cash. I do have a no-fee CC to use if possible.
4. I bought an international SIM card for my wife to use pre-paid data on her phone. (I'll have full capabilities for text / talk / data with Verizon on my work phone).

Sound reasonable as far as this working well? Any other key things I'm missing?
I would have 2 CCs and 2 debit cards (with different banks), just in case.
Don't forget to inform your bank and CC company about travel plans. It happens that they block your cards and you will be 30 minutes on the phone with a guy in India, on a horrible phone line. Not fun.
CC usage in Europe is still very high, although probably less so than in US.

I am curious about the Verizon thing. Verizon sues CDMA which does not exist in Europe. Do you have a world phone (like all newer Iphones)?

Scrapr
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Scrapr » Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:43 pm

T mobile has coverage in Europe. No need to find a SIM card. Fairly economical too. I picked up a bunch of these Euro plug converters.

https://www.target.com/p/travel-smart-c ... gL3uPD_BwE

They are really cheap. I got some off E bay. Very handy to have and spread around to other tourists if needed

I don't know an answer but my phone went off a few times in the middle of the night. Because it wasn't late back home.

MJS
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by MJS » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:10 pm

createplayact wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:23 pm
... If we overwithdraw, Is there any way I can deposit our unused swiss francs and / or euro?
You will have one to two [dull] hours in the airport before your flight home. Keep some cash for tips, then spend any remaining marks or euros in the shops, duty-free stores*, restaurants, spas, coffee shops, breweries or bars, or possibly visit a gym, museum or garden.

* This way you don't have carry gifts around throughout the trip.

bungalow10
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by bungalow10 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:26 pm

Our Capitol One Venture credit card and Capital One 360 debit both served us well while we lived and traveled in Europe. You have good advice here - let the card do the conversion, not the merchant.

Carry minimal cash, no more than 100 Euro. Pickpockets are common.

To avoid looking like a tourist, and be comfortable, wear Adidas Superstars, Stan Smiths, or Vans. Slim fit pants and fitted tops.

If you have Verizon, international calling and data is $10/day. Well worth it.

Take a power adapter. One should work, plus a couple of USB charging cables. Don't expect clothes irons or hair dryers at hotels - you will find some but they aren't ubiquitous.

Google Translate and Google Maps are your new best friends.
Last edited by bungalow10 on Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Jazztonight » Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:26 pm

Our plan is to come home with about 40 or 50 euro, so that on our next trip we are not running to an ATM as soon as we land. It’s worked well for us.
Euros are not going anywhere anytime soon. It's okay for you to hang onto them for your next foreign trip.

Even though their currency is regularly devalued, we always have Mexican pesos in our house and take them with us--we travel to Mexico virtually every year. We're not talking about that much cash, but it's nice to have when you land in the country and need to tip someone who helps you out (e.g. push the wheelchair, etc.).

I agree with using an ATM inside a bank or at the airport. In a large supermarket also works for us.

Depending on the country you're traveling to, use your judgment about whether to pay in cash or charge.

Your American or Canadian passport is very valuable. Protect it. (I learned that the hard way.)

Have a great trip!
"What does not destroy me, makes me stronger." Nietzsche

mikemikemike
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by mikemikemike » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:03 pm

Haven't seen this posted yet (apologies if redundant advice), but...

Relax and have fun! Some things will be different than you expect, and some will be confusing. That's part of the magic of exploration. Relish the chance to see something new. Don't take yourself too seriously. Worry about money after you come home (if at all).

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whodidntante
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by whodidntante » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:08 pm

In Germany, you'll need cash outside of really nice restaurants and hotels. Since I tend not to eat at very nice restaurants, I need lots of cash.

I have used my Fidelity CMA card to get cash overseas dozens of times. They did shut off my card twice. So:
1) make sure you call to set a travel notification. Unfortunately there is no way to do this online, in spite of me making fun of them for it each time I call.
2) bring at least one backup ATM card

bluebolt
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by bluebolt » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:10 pm

Starfish wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:41 pm
I am curious about the Verizon thing. Verizon sues CDMA which does not exist in Europe. Do you have a world phone (like all newer Iphones)?
Verizon uses LTE which is a worldwide standard.

They are retiring their 3G/CDMA network at the end of this year:
https://www.verizonwireless.com/support ... se-218813/

Starfish
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Starfish » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:18 pm

Jazztonight wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:26 pm
Your American or Canadian passport is very valuable.
In what way? EU passport is equal or better for traveling. What else?
If somebody steals your passport is probably by mistake.

Starfish
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Starfish » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:19 pm

bluebolt wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:10 pm
Starfish wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:41 pm
I am curious about the Verizon thing. Verizon sues CDMA which does not exist in Europe. Do you have a world phone (like all newer Iphones)?
Verizon uses LTE which is a worldwide standard.

They are retiring their 3G/CDMA network at the end of this year:
https://www.verizonwireless.com/support ... se-218813/

You are right, and I assume all phones by now are "world phones".

ResearchMed
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by ResearchMed » Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:39 pm

eddot98 wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:49 am
NavyIC3 wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:32 am
I was wondering about this. We've already pre-booked our three hotel nights (the rest of the time we'll be staying with friends). If we overwithdraw, Is there any way I can deposit our unused swiss francs and / or euro?

You can always exchange money at the airport on the way home. This is not the best thing though because the exchange rate is not great and you have to pay a commission but at least you end up with dollars.
Our plan is to come home with about 40 or 50 euro, so that on our next trip we are not running to an ATM as soon as we land. It’s worked well for us.
We do this, too.

However, if we end up with various currencies (less common, now, with the Euro, but still possible depending upon where one travels), we don't instantly exchange them for home currency.

Instead, on a "next trip", instead of having exchanged used currency back to US$, we'll exchange, say, Euro's and Pounds for Japanese yen directly (in Japan), and save the middle transaction fees.
It's a good way to get rid of notes (coins are often not accepted at exchanges) for any leftover miscellaneous currencies, such as Norwegian Krone or whatever, that wouldn't be accepted anywhere else - unless we are planning a return trip relatively soon.

This was a lot more annoying in the past, with each European country having its own currency, so I could end up with Pounds, Lira, and both French and Swiss Francs, with one relatively small trip.

RM
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Scrapr
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Scrapr » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:18 pm

Rick Steves has a bunch of info on traveling in Europe

Look way over on the right side. Helped us a lot

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-forum

If traveling by train look at https://www.seat61.com/

lots and lots to see there. He really can lay out a schedule to make train travel easy

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Sandtrap
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:48 pm

You might find a lot of info from experienced Bogle Travelers on this thread posted by a newbie traveller.
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=270281&hilit=travel

the tips for pickpocket proof clothing are great
also
"pacsafe" backpacks are amazing.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Sandtrap » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:49 pm

whodidntante wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:08 pm
In Germany, you'll need cash outside of really nice restaurants and hotels. Since I tend not to eat at very nice restaurants, I need lots of cash.

I have used my Fidelity CMA card to get cash overseas dozens of times. They did shut off my card twice. So:
1) make sure you call to set a travel notification. Unfortunately there is no way to do this online, in spite of me making fun of them for it each time I call.
2) bring at least one backup ATM card
ATM card as in Debit Card?

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whodidntante
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by whodidntante » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:54 pm

Sandtrap wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:49 pm
whodidntante wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:08 pm
In Germany, you'll need cash outside of really nice restaurants and hotels. Since I tend not to eat at very nice restaurants, I need lots of cash.

I have used my Fidelity CMA card to get cash overseas dozens of times. They did shut off my card twice. So:
1) make sure you call to set a travel notification. Unfortunately there is no way to do this online, in spite of me making fun of them for it each time I call.
2) bring at least one backup ATM card
ATM card as in Debit Card?
Not all ATM cards are debit cards. Debit usually refers to the ability to use the Visa/Mastercard network for purchases and debit card cash advances.

criticalmass
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by criticalmass » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:57 pm

Starfish wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:18 pm
Jazztonight wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 7:26 pm
Your American or Canadian passport is very valuable.
In what way? EU passport is equal or better for traveling. What else?
If somebody steals your passport is probably by mistake.
An EU passport doesn’t get you access to USA territories without additional security checks. Passport theft is real for USA passports, and Schengen passports, and Canadian passports among others. Just be careful with it.

Even if it’s just “lost,” replacing a passport while abroad is a huge hassle and expensive, unless you are staying next to a friendly consulate with appointments available in a reasonable time frame and you have enough time to deal with it before departure or your next flight or hotel check in.

criticalmass
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by criticalmass » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:06 pm

fortfun wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:39 pm
createplayact wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:17 am
The wife and I are taking our first international vacation (Switzerland / Germany). Here's the advice I gathered online over the past few weeks, which also led me to the Fidelity Cash Management Account.

1. There's no need to stuff my wallet with foreign currency before leaving and pay high conversion fees in the States. I can just use ATMs to pull local currency once over there.
2. I'll use the Fidelity Debit card linked to my CMM account to withdraw local currency with no ATM fee and low currency exchange fees.
3. Credit card use at local restaurants, etc isn't as common as in the States. I should plan to pay for more with cash. I do have a no-fee CC to use if possible.
4. I bought an international SIM card for my wife to use pre-paid data on her phone. (I'll have full capabilities for text / talk / data with Verizon on my work phone).

Sound reasonable as far as this working well? Any other key things I'm missing?
I think Schwab ATM card is slightly better than Fidelity's for International. I'd recommend one of each. You keep one and spouse keeps the other. That way, if you have any problems or lost cards, you have a backup. That's what we did last summer. Plus, I got $100 for opening the new Schwab account. Only use it for international travel. Many places, in Germany don't take cards, so you will definitely need to use the ATM there. Switzerland is a little better about taking cards. You should take at least two cards each. Keep one locked in hotel for emergency. Also, we took 1 page copies of our passports. It expedited the checkin process at hotels, hostels, vrbos, etc. Have fun! I really recommend the middle Rhine and Lauderbrunnen regions.
What made a Schwab debit card better for ATM use for you than a Fidelity debit card? Exchange rate at ATMs should be exactly the same. Fidelity reimburses any terminal charges right away. With Schwab, you wait until month end. Fidelity charges 1% FTF for purchases, but I’d avoid using Debit cards for purchases.

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Elric
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Elric » Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:22 pm

Scrapr wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 6:43 pm
T mobile has coverage in Europe. No need to find a SIM card.
Their pre-paid plans do, but their pay by month plans don't include international. I used an Orange Holiday sim on my last trip because of this. Worked great for voice and data, and I'll be using it again when I go back (the latter requires additional registration and small periodic fees to keep the number valid, but it worked out cheaper than a new sim, given my timing).

You're getting great recommendations. I found we used more cash than some others are saying, but we probably could have used credit cards more. I do like picking up some local cash at the arrival airport at an ATM, even if not the cheapest conversion. I just feel a lot more comfortable with some local currency in my wallet.
"No man is free who works for a living." | Illya Kuryakin

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Sandtrap
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:20 am

whodidntante wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:54 pm
Sandtrap wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:49 pm
whodidntante wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:08 pm
In Germany, you'll need cash outside of really nice restaurants and hotels. Since I tend not to eat at very nice restaurants, I need lots of cash.

I have used my Fidelity CMA card to get cash overseas dozens of times. They did shut off my card twice. So:
1) make sure you call to set a travel notification. Unfortunately there is no way to do this online, in spite of me making fun of them for it each time I call.
2) bring at least one backup ATM card
ATM card as in Debit Card?
Not all ATM cards are debit cards. Debit usually refers to the ability to use the Visa/Mastercard network for purchases and debit card cash advances.
Thanks.
I am a bit old school and have not used an ATM machine since I don't know.
What are the safest ATM cards to use for travel?

Shallowpockets
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Shallowpockets » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:36 am

I use a Scwab debit card. Reimbursed ATM fees. However, I am writing this to address security that many people have about their cards.
I plan on the approximate amount I will need to withdraw in total per ATM during a trip. I only have about that amount plus a buffer in the account. Should the ATM card be compromised I am then only liable for that maximum amount. Usually $2k is sufficient to cover my costs. So it my account is drained for any reason that is all it will be.


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Sandtrap
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:41 am

Shallowpockets wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:36 am
I use a Scwab debit card. Reimbursed ATM fees. However, I am writing this to address security that many people have about their cards.
I plan on the approximate amount I will need to withdraw in total per ATM during a trip. I only have about that amount plus a buffer in the account. Should the ATM card be compromised I am then only liable for that maximum amount. Usually $2k is sufficient to cover my costs. So it my account is drained for any reason that is all it will be.
Great info!!!!
I have a Schwab brokerage account. Will inquire about the card.
Do such ATM cards work globally?

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Sandtrap
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Sandtrap » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:43 am

Good stuff!!!
Mahalo!
j :D

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Watty
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Watty » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:56 am

Scrapr wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:18 pm
Rick Steves has a bunch of info on traveling in Europe

Look way over on the right side. Helped us a lot

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-forum

If traveling by train look at https://www.seat61.com/

lots and lots to see there. He really can lay out a schedule to make train travel easy
+1 On Rick Steves, here is his money tips page.

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money

Read what he says about using a money belt since pickpockets can be a problem in Europe.

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/ ... -moneybelt

The key for me is to have multiple sources of money and to replenish your cash when you get down to the equivalent of a couple of hundred dollars in the local currency.

As someone mentioned be sure that you and your spouse carry different cards just in case a wallet or purse is lost.

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fortfun
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by fortfun » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:13 am

criticalmass wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:06 pm
fortfun wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:39 pm
createplayact wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 11:17 am
The wife and I are taking our first international vacation (Switzerland / Germany). Here's the advice I gathered online over the past few weeks, which also led me to the Fidelity Cash Management Account.

1. There's no need to stuff my wallet with foreign currency before leaving and pay high conversion fees in the States. I can just use ATMs to pull local currency once over there.
2. I'll use the Fidelity Debit card linked to my CMM account to withdraw local currency with no ATM fee and low currency exchange fees.
3. Credit card use at local restaurants, etc isn't as common as in the States. I should plan to pay for more with cash. I do have a no-fee CC to use if possible.
4. I bought an international SIM card for my wife to use pre-paid data on her phone. (I'll have full capabilities for text / talk / data with Verizon on my work phone).

Sound reasonable as far as this working well? Any other key things I'm missing?
I think Schwab ATM card is slightly better than Fidelity's for International. I'd recommend one of each. You keep one and spouse keeps the other. That way, if you have any problems or lost cards, you have a backup. That's what we did last summer. Plus, I got $100 for opening the new Schwab account. Only use it for international travel. Many places, in Germany don't take cards, so you will definitely need to use the ATM there. Switzerland is a little better about taking cards. You should take at least two cards each. Keep one locked in hotel for emergency. Also, we took 1 page copies of our passports. It expedited the checkin process at hotels, hostels, vrbos, etc. Have fun! I really recommend the middle Rhine and Lauderbrunnen regions.
What made a Schwab debit card better for ATM use for you than a Fidelity debit card? Exchange rate at ATMs should be exactly the same. Fidelity reimburses any terminal charges right away. With Schwab, you wait until month end. Fidelity charges 1% FTF for purchases, but I’d avoid using Debit cards for purchases.
They gave me $100 for opening the account. Also, there's a Schwab in town if I need to deposit cash, since I can't with Ally. Otherwise, they sound much the same.

Scrapr
Posts: 269
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Scrapr » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:13 pm

Our neighbor kid is doing study abroad in Florence. She was "studying" (having a latte) at an outdoor cafe when a woman came up & waved a newspaper in her face. Leaves with her phone. The student next to her was fast enough to grab her own phone before the woman got it too. Made our neighbor very upset.

Starfish
Posts: 950
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Starfish » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:48 pm

Scrapr wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:13 pm
Our neighbor kid is doing study abroad in Florence. She was "studying" (having a latte) at an outdoor cafe when a woman came up & waved a newspaper in her face. Leaves with her phone. The student next to her was fast enough to grab her own phone before the woman got it too. Made our neighbor very upset.
So they saw her? Why they did not recover the phones on the spot?

Starfish
Posts: 950
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Re: Newbie international traveler

Post by Starfish » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:50 pm

Sandtrap wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:20 am
whodidntante wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:54 pm
Sandtrap wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:49 pm
whodidntante wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 8:08 pm
In Germany, you'll need cash outside of really nice restaurants and hotels. Since I tend not to eat at very nice restaurants, I need lots of cash.

I have used my Fidelity CMA card to get cash overseas dozens of times. They did shut off my card twice. So:
1) make sure you call to set a travel notification. Unfortunately there is no way to do this online, in spite of me making fun of them for it each time I call.
2) bring at least one backup ATM card
ATM card as in Debit Card?
Not all ATM cards are debit cards. Debit usually refers to the ability to use the Visa/Mastercard network for purchases and debit card cash advances.
Thanks.
I am a bit old school and have not used an ATM machine since I don't know.
What are the safest ATM cards to use for travel?
Using ATMs is old school. I use them only ~2 times a year. Apple pay is new(er) school.

PS: all the Rick Stevens thing is a ploy to sell money belts. Money belts are a target for pickpockets not a way to defend against them! No european had used one these contraptions ever.
I travel 3 weeks every year in Europe (for almost 2 decades now) and I have never own such a thing and nothing was ever stolen from me.

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