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Off We Go to Europe!

by J. Money on Thursday, May 20, 2010

off to europe we go

Good morning everyone! It’s a beautiful day here in J. Money-land as we embark into the wide world of Europa :)  10 Days of relaxing, beer-festing, hanging out with friends, and just being good ol’ American tourists.  I haven’t packed a thing yet, but who cares – we’re on vacation!

And it’s damn good timing too. Between almost losing my job and questioning my addiction to blogging, I’ve been needing a release like no other (that sounded dirty, didn’t it?). Time to go spend a little money and remember what it’s like to be alive again!

But before I get outta here I wanted to share a few thoughts with ya:

  • Alert your banks & credit card companies. This is the FIRST thing I do now whenever it’s time to escape the country.  I call ‘em up and let them know I’ll be in countries X,Y,Z on the dates of blank & blank so that they don’t ring the fraud alarms!  The last thing you want is for your cards to be shut off when you’re thousands of miles away strapped for cash.  Believe me, it’s not fun ;)
  • Travel Insurance. I’ve never bought it in my life, but something tells me this time around it may have been smart to do so….but seriously, what are the odds that a Volcano would erupt?!
  • Currency exchange. A friend told us it was smarter to hit up the ATMs in the countries we’ll be in rather than make any exchanges at the airport or the bank (which I think you need to do a cple weeks ahead of time anyway?). I’m not sure if there’s any truth to this, but we’re gonna find out really quick! :) I’ve had no time to do jack squat…
  • Cell phone usage. PREPAY for data and calling and whatever else your cell phone provider offers!  Checking a 2 paragraph email overseas costs more than my lottery ticket addiction!
  • Copies, copies, copies! It’s a good idea to make copies of your passports, drivers licenses, credit cards, and all the other goodies  just in case something happens to them.  We usually keep ‘em in our safe @ home so that if ever they’re needed we can just ring up a family member.
  • Spend Money! If you’ve been a good little boy or girl and budgeted in some money to be spent on vacations – USE IT! Enjoy the fruits of your labor and allow yourself some breathing room while away. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every now and then, just don’t go overboard. Although only you know what overboard means ;)

Whew, that felt good!  One last hurrah before I skip outta here and gorge on some fun :) Be sure to check back daily though as we got a KILLER line up in the works for you! And give these bloggers the sexy treatment they deserve while I’m gone, okay? If you wanna find me, I’ll be on Twitter taking pictures and causing trouble ;)

Have a most beautiful week guys!!! And pray that the ash clouds stay away!

(photo by david.nikonvscanon. stick figures by J$)


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jolie May 20, 2010 at 10:49 am

ohhh sounds like such fun!! Have a great time. Enjoy the beverages and food. May time pass slow so you can enjoy it longer.

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2 Ciawy May 20, 2010 at 11:25 am

Have tons of FUN! You just inspired me to save a whole lot for a trip.

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3 Brandi May 20, 2010 at 11:32 am

HAVE A BLAST!!! I can’t wait to read all about it :)

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4 Christine May 20, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Have fun!!!! Good pointers for out of the country trips! Thanks!

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5 Jake May 20, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Have a great time man! With the dollar inching up the last few days, you seem to have lucked out with not doing the exchange yet/ More Euros for you!!

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6 Miss Jane May 20, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Have a safe trip, have fun, and take a lot of photos!! :)

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7 Jenna May 20, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Have fun! Make sure when your leaving hotels / place where you are staying you grab a business card in case you get lost. That way you have the address!

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8 ctreit May 20, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Have a good time! Tell me what you think of the original Budweiser made in Budvar, Czech Republic, and sold all over Europe.

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9 Stella May 20, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Have a great time! We’ll miss you…

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10 Donna May 20, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Have fun and relax. Can’t wait to see some pics!

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11 Stephan May 20, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Have a blast! and spoil yourself, its vacation after all

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12 J. Money May 20, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Thx guys! Lots of pics and lots of fun – Roger that.

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13 Cap May 20, 2010 at 10:11 pm

ATM is definitely the way to go. Was in Italy last month and my Schwab ATM rocked out. Just check before hand on which machines may have fees in % vs. flat rate. I found a few from certain banks that have absolutely no fee so I was good to go.

Certain countries in Europe will have daily withdrawal limit, regardless of your bank’s limits too, so watch for that.

But yeah, you basically get a much much more favorable exchange rate, and many times it’ll be near or at wholesale currency exchange rate.

Enjoy yourself and don’t let us caught you in any news. Also, please don’t give more reasons why they need to hate Americans :)

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14 Adam @ Sit Down Disco May 21, 2010 at 12:21 am

Not sure how your medical insurance works in the USA, but for most countries, you are not covered outside of your home country. That means that if you get sick or injured overseas, you are liable for any expenses. It’s the only reason I ALWAYS buy travel insurance – for catastrophic injuries. On top of immediate medical care, there is then the cost of being transported back to your home country under a medivac arrangement which can cost in excess of $100,000. Even a broken leg requires enormous expense if travelling internationally (traction, aircraft space, etc).

But if you’re covered internationally, all this means nothing. :)

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15 JMK May 21, 2010 at 1:41 pm

If you haven’t already left, throw a few copies (scan and print) of the front page of your passport in your bag. Many hotels in Europe ask for your passport as they must copy the front page and provide it to the local authorities. Having a copy to give them means you never have to surrender your passport. Some will ask you to leave it with them while you go drop your bags in the room and come back for it later. If you lose your passport a copy can only make the process of dealing with the Embassy to get a new one that much easier.

We intended to minimize our cash requirements and put as much as possible on our CC while we were in Greece, Italy and Germany in 2008. Turned out many small restaurants didn’t take them and we blew through a lot of cash. Even some major museums and attractions wanted cash. If you want to take a cash advance on your CC at the ATM it will only be possible if you have a PIN type card. If not you’ll have to just do a straight cash withdrawl from your bank account. They’ve been using PIN codes on CCs there for years – we only started having them here in Canada in the last couple of years. We still had the old type when we were in Europe and if we couldn’t sign a CC receipt manually we had to pay cash.

Even if the conversion rates are better there, it’s still wise to go with some local cash. When we landed in Rome the train tickets from the airport to downtown had to be paid in cash (this may have changed, but it was a surprise to me). Between the train station and our hotel I passed a museum that sold the 3day passes we wanted to get so I stopped in. Again cash only (4 x 20Euros)… Before we got to our first hotel I’d already gone through a good chunk of the euros I’d brought to get us started. We walked from the station to our hotel, but a taxi would have required cash again. If we’d arrived with no euros at all we’d have had to find an ATM in the airport terminal just to get started, and I suspect those ones specifically meant for travellers don’t have the best rates.

Enjoy yourself!

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16 JMK May 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Should clarrify, put the copies of your passport front page in your carry on bag. We never check bags so I forgot to say it that way. You don’t want your pasport info heading off unsupervised.

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17 Bucksome Boomer May 22, 2010 at 9:29 am

Have a great time (I’m sure you will and didn’t need me to tell you that!). Sorry I didn’t get to meet you this time in DC, but maybe the next time business brings me there.

Excellent tip about contacting your credit card companies when traveling abroad. I always do that as well.

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18 J. Money May 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Haha, thanks guys :) You all are full of great tips too! (esp you Cap. and I’ll have you know I did not give them a reason to hate Americans more! haha…I left them with some pretty sweet dance moves too!)

I’m adding one more tip to this list too – Allow 1 extra day off to unwind from the trip!!! If I had to work today I’d be a goner. Thank goodness for Memorial Day…

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