Let me say first, right off the bat, that if you’re already a seasoned international traveler, the information here is probably nothing that you don’t already know. In fact you could even probably give me a few pointers! But if you haven’t ventured outside the US, here’s a few tips I’ve learned:
- First, just go ahead and get this out of your system: things are significantly more expensive in Europe than the US, and particularly in Disneyland Paris. Just accept this. When you’re paying $3-4 for about 8oz of Coke, remember these words and go to your happy place…
- As you set out your budget, whatever you decide upon, increase it by about 50% to get a more realistic idea of what you will end up spending.
- Well before your trip, investigate what options you might have through your regular bank for international spending. Some banks, like Bank of America and others, have partner banks in Europe that can significantly reduce your service charges for banking services like ATM’s.
- No matter what card you plan to use, it’s a good idea to call the customer service number prior to leaving, to let them know your travel plans. When they see Continental charges for $10 ice cream cones start rolling through it should prevent them from putting a hold on your funds.
- While in Europe, having a chip and PIN card is worth its weight in gold (almost). Magstripe cards are generally harder to use, though while at Disneyland Paris you should have little to no trouble paying with almost anything. If your bank can’t issue you a debit card with chip and PIN, consider applying for credit cards geared towards travelers. You can usually get these cards with chip and PIN, and they also will often have minimal or no Foreign Transaction Fee, which brings us to:
- MAKE SURE you look into whatever Foreign Transaction Fees your method of payment will charge. The aforementioned credit cards usually don’t have a fee. Cards like the American Express Platinum don’t either. These fees will usually run anywhere from 2.5-3.0% of your purchase for EVERY purchase for the convenience of converting the currency electronically, so the savings will really add up as you enjoy your $20 quick service cheeseburger.
- If you don’t have access to a bank chip and PIN or can’t get/don’t want a new credit card, another option is to visit a Travelex currency exchange. There you can preload a chip and PIN cash card in the currency of your choice (well, currently about 5 choices). Sometimes having a built-in limit is good for self-control when you see the perfect $50 T-shirt. If you go this route, just have a backup fund source because there is no such thing as overdraft or extending your credit limit if you empty the card.
- Did I mention it’s expensive?
Hope this is helpful! Next topic will be arrival at the resort and the hotels.