Money and how much to take is always a question when going on vacation especially when going overseas. The simplest answer is to take as little as possible since you won't be using it until you get home.
You will have a better idea of how much to take after reading what I like to do when I am planning a European vacation. Because there are ATM machines everywhere to get cash and is where I get the best exchange rate for my money I normally don't take a lot with me. My bank doesn't charge to exchange dollars for Euros so I get some before I leave so there is no reason to take much of my home countries currency. However there can be a few exceptions for you depending on where you live.
All banks Are Not the Same
All banks are different so it could cost you more money than it is worth to get Euros from your bank before you leave or maybe your bank doesn't offer that kind of service at all. This would cause you to take more cash with you to exchange at the airport. If this were the case I would probably take about 300 dollars, which will give me 200 to exchange for euros and the other hundred can be emergency money or for the cab ride from the airport to my home when I get back but of course that amount is up to you.
I know many people have said they found an ATM machine in an airport in Italy but I haven't seen them out where they are easily seen thus the reason for taking extra cash if you couldn't get euros at home. I would not recommend exchanging much more then 200 at the currency exchange booth at the airport because of the high cost for the exchange. It is better to get a little at first then find an ATM later to get what you need.
Are Foreign ATM's Different
Something everyone should know is most foreign ATM's will take money only from your checking account. Unlike US bank ATM's which gives you a screen with the option of taking from your checking or savings. I did find one that would let me take from either but that was it. So before you leave put your vacation money in your checking account so you will have access to it. Another thing to do is check with your bank to see if your ATM card is the new kind with a chip inserted into the card. Many of the banks in Europe including Italy have updated ATM’s in them that only read the new cards with a chip, Some ATM’s will also only take ATM cards that are debit ATM cards.
Another thing you want to do before you leave is check the exchange rate. Clicking on the picture of money will take you to a exchange rate calculator, so you will know how much the money you have in the bank is worth in Euros. The exchange rate calculator can convert any currency to another so it doesn’t matter what country you are from.
I like to check in 2 ways. I first check how much my total travel budget is worth in euros so I can decide if it is enough or want to put in more. Example as of this typing, 1000 dollars is worth around 737 euros. Then I check how much the money I would be getting from an ATM will be in us dollars. Example I enter into the rate calculator that I want to see what 100 euro's is in US dollars.
The rate changes every day so don't use the figure I am using here and at the time I am writing this it would be $135.6 dollars for 100 euros. Every time I get 100 euro's from an ATM $135.6 dollars will come out of my account and I would have to double and triples this amount if I take out 200 or 300 euros. Also euros spend just like dollars in most ways. If you buy a soft drink in the US and it costs 1 dollar the same thing in Italy will cost you 1 euro. The difference is the euro is worth when I typed this $1.35 so your 1 euro drink is costing you $1.35.
Keep track of the ATM receipt, they only tell you what you took out in euro's it won't convert for you or give you an account balance. Unless you have gobs of money and don't need to keep track of your spending you will want to write down what comes out of your account when you use the ATM. You certainly wouldn’t want to make a withdrawal thinking you have only taken out 700 of your 1000 dollars when it is really 700 euros which depending on the exchange rate could be around 900 dollars or more. You can see how easy it could be to run out of money if you don’t convert your ATM withdrawals.
More things to consider
I like to get either a Visa or Master Card travel card not a gift card for a few reasons. I like to pack one in my carryon bag and keep it there as emergency money just in case my wallet is lost or stolen, that way I would at least have some money to hold me over till I can get things resolved. Another is parents will give one to each of their children telling them this is for them to buy whatever they want while on vacation but once they spend it all their not getting anymore. This seems to be a good way of controlling how much your children if you have any can spend and they won't be asking for money every time you turn around.
If you like this as an option check with your bank to see what they do. My bank does not charge a fee for one of these cards as long as you have an account with them otherwise there could be as much as a $5 to $10 dollar fee on a $100 dollar travel card which could cost between $105 and $110 dollars.
As far as credit cards go you should call your credit card company and tell them you are going overseas on vacation so they will know that your card number hasn’t been stolen when a merchant checks for authorization on a purchase otherwise your card may be declined.
The last thing about money I want to tell you is, if you have never been overseas before when you get change from buying anything you will notice that the smallest paper euro is a 5 euro bill. Everything else is in coin so looking at your change you will see a 2 euro coin a 1 euro coin and the rest is pretty standard as far as change goes.
I hope you have a better idea of how to handle and budget your vacation money and how to use Foreign ATM's and convert your money once you withdraw some.
I invite you to read many of my other article to get even more prepared for your vacation and don't forget you can book everything on line right here.