Well, I survived my two-week trip to Greece and Italy. I feel especially grateful for this considering I flew Air France just two days before the crash, which included a connecting flight to Paris. I did get one scar, though on my right shin from a comedic collision with a bicyclist in a busy Florentine piazza, but at least I have some great stories to tell.
Before heading to Italy, I was warned by many about gypsies and the sneaky tactics they use to steal money. My sister, who was my travel partner, and I were pleasantly surprised to spend a week in the country without any gypsy encounters. Even better, we only encountered one pay toilet; last summer when I went to Europe, I found them all over the place.
My Capital One credit card, which I use for international traveling because it has no foreign transaction fees, served me well. I was disappointed with my Bank of America debit card, though. Last summer, I was told that if you used the ATMs of BofA-associated banks, including Deutsche Bank, Barclay’s and BNP Paribas, you wouldn’t be charged a withdrawal fee (although there is still a foreign transaction fee). I checked BofA’s Web site and those banks are still listed as fee-free.
I used ATMs from these banks several times during the trip, but when looking at my account online, I see that I was charged $5 withdrawal fees. I’m not pleased, so I’m planning on calling soon to ask about it.
|Cash Passport cards are prepaid, reloadable cards you can purchase in almost any currency. They are great for traveling.
Because the trip was celebrating my sister’s graduation from college, my parents gave my sister several Cash Passport cards in euros before we left. They are prepaid, reloadable cards that you can purchase in practically any currency, and they are branded with the Visa and MasterCard logo. This allows you to use it as a debit card just about anywhere, or use it to withdraw cash from an ATM (there are fees, though).
You can check your balance online, and you can opt to have two cards with two different numbers linked to the same account. It’s great for someone young who doesn’t have a credit card and doesn’t want to use a debit card while abroad, too. It’s also much safer than carrying cash.
But sadly, now it’s back to the real world.