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First trip to Italy/money question

My husband and I are taking the Venice/Florence/Rome tour in October. My husband and I are disagreeing on how much money to withdraw at Venice airport ATM. He is always concerned we won't have enough cash on hand and I am concerned about theft/ending up with too many euros at the end of the trip. I know we will be able to take out money multiple times throughout the trip, so my long-winded question is how much cash do you keep on hand when traveling? We plan to use a money belt (tried it on last night...ugh.)

Posted by
3580 posts

I usually keep €200 or so on hand. On the tour most expenses are already paid. You will be paying for the meals that aren't included and any personal spending you choose to do. Some places will take credit cards, but not all.

Posted by
365 posts

Hi Gacllc1997:

Unlike many travelers on this forum, I am not comfortable with having no local currency when I arrive. On my past few trips, I have taken the equivalent of $500 in local money. My bank does not charge me a fee to get the money. This way I have more than enough to cover any immediate expenses. I usually only have to withdraw money once on the trip. I do however, use my debit card for purchases as well. I have never had a problem with using my debit card. On my trip to Paris last December I used both the chip and swipe options.

I use the $500 as my primary spending money, and since I go on RS tours. I don't have a lot of additional expenses and have found that the $500 has usually covered most of the daily stuff. It is the jewelry and chocolate that uses the debit card ;-).

If you have Euros left over, just save them for the next trip, or buy that last minute souvenir at the airport.

Posted by
15640 posts

I'd say 280 EUR to start. That way you will get at least a few smaller bills. That would be the normal amount of "walking around" cash I'd get at home. Top off when you get below 40 or 50. I always keep the left over as starter cash for the next trip. If you don't foresee coming back in the next several years, time it so you just have bit left when you get to the airport, and spend the remainder on treats at duty-free.

Posted by
6251 posts

There are ATMs everywhere...it's not as if there is only one chance to "guess" correctly how much you'll need for the entire trip. I take out money only as I need it, carry the minimum possible to get by, and try to pay for items by credit card whenever I can. I'm not very risk averse though...yet I've never had issues with accessing money on my travels. Part of the reason I don't take out a lot of cash is because I don't want large bills, which are more problematic than they're worth...no one wants to break them.

Posted by
5217 posts

Take the max amount you can each time you use a bancomat, whatever that maximum is. I want to minimize the number of transactions, because they take up precious time. Having too many euros at the end is not a problem - there are ways to deal with that.

Posted by
2353 posts

Without knowing how long you will be there it is difficult to say. We usually take 300 to 400 Euros. If towards the end of the trip I see I have a lot left I will pay cash for things I might have charged or I just take it home for the next trip.

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks to all for the feedback, this is very helpful. I hadn't thought about the large bills issue, so I will plan to pull out an amount with that in mind. What is the smallest denomination an ATM will issue? 20? Also, do you use a money belt? Thank you again for your input.

Posted by
930 posts

We withdrew 500E a pop at atm's when in Europe last fall but we spent a week and a half on our own before the tour started and used cash for museumkaarts and train travel as well as any meals we ate at restaurants. I didn't want to have to be hunting down atm's all of the time while trying to see the sights and participate in tour activities once the tour started and we had a few additional excursions at extra cost arranged by our tour guide. We flew with no euros as my credit union doesn't do foreign exchange and then hit a bank owned atm at the airport. We kept the majority of money in our money belts and each carried about 50E daily in our purses for incidentals and lunch. We usually had a good bit of that left but not always. I purposely returned home with the euros I had left (about 180E) since I knew I wanted to go back to Europe this year and am glad I did as we will have some large expenses right at the start.

Try putting your money belt on backwards so it lies in the small of your back - less noticeable as you won't have a bulge on your stomach and it didn't bother me wearing it this way. Hubby used the hidden pocket and you could too even if you don't wear a belt by pinning it inside the waist of your pants with something big and flat like a kilt pin. I just used the money belt on transit days.

I loved every city on your tour and you are going to have a fabulous time!

Note - at every atm I used it asked me how I wanted my bills and I always chose a mix of 50's, 20's, 10's, and maybe some 5's. I never received a 100E note.

Posted by
4150 posts

Nance is right about wearing your money belt backwards. A RS guide suggested that years ago (Thanks, Jennifer!) and it's a great tip. I honestly forget I have mine on. And this last trip, my DH finally tried it, and he went to bed with it on because he forgot it was there!

You don't use your money belt for daily pocket money, just for stuff you want to know is secure, like extra euros.

Posted by
983 posts

We take out 500 € each time we visit an ATM. 50 goes to me (wallet) , 50 goes to husband (wallet) and 300.00 goes in the money belt at the beginning of each morning we reload our wallets if needed so we always have 50 each, unless we know we will need more cash. On our last 13 day trip we took out 1500€ total which included payment for an apartment and gifts and that was plenty. We just wanted some pocket money for incidentals, everything else went on a credit card. We are each prepared to lose the 50 €. OHHH and the money belt is not used daily, only when traveling between towns and we need to be on a train, plane or bus. I did land up with some Euros, which means I now have some pocket money for our next trip.

Posted by
23 posts

Well, this is super helpful, as I envisioned having to wear the money belt every day.😝 I purchased the necklace style money belt for me, which I think now was a mistake. Got husband the hidden pocket one. I will plan to modify mine somehow. Feeling more comfortable about how it all works, so thank you.

Posted by
2352 posts

I like to land with somewhere around 100Euros on me. I carry them over from the last trip, but at one point I was getting them from the bank or AAA before I left. It's kind of pricey as far as fees or exchange rates, but worth it as I don't want to be worrying about ATMs at the airport. I have enough for a cab and a day of touring, where I will see about a million ATMs.

Then I like to get somewhere around 300 each time - but not 300 exactly, 280 or 320 because of the larger bill issue. If I find an ATM that offers 10s then 310 but that's rare. Just like here, 20 is a common minimum. 300 is a balance between minimize ATM trips and fees but not so much that loosing it would kill me. I mean I can't really afford to loose 300, but better than 1000!

Posted by
5399 posts

@gacllc1997 -- no, you don't have to wear the money belt every day, so I just wear mine on days when I don't want to lose my money, credit cards and passport ( in other words, I wear mine ALL THE TIME when I travel, and don't find it uncomfortable.) Because my Schwab debit card waives all ATM fees I get about €300 at a time unless there is a specific reason for needing more cash.

Posted by
7798 posts

I wear mine ALL the time, particularly when traveling in big cities. I am not one that is comfortable with leaving cash or passport on a hotel room safe.

When I landed in Paris this time I had 400 left over from last time. My next withdrawals were 300€ from each of my debit cards. I carry 50-100€ for my day money depending on what my plan is for the day. I stuff the rest in the money belt. For some reason it does not bother me to have that much cash in a money belt whereas at home I would never have that much cash on hand.

Posted by
11613 posts

You can extend your neck wallet to a length that you can comfortably wear cross-body, like a holster.

Some bancomats have their own limit (often E250) per transaction, so you will have to do multiple transactions. Some do not give you a choice of denominations, but an amount like E250 or E240 should get you some 20s. The bancomat will not tell you that you have exceeded their limit, it will just refuse the transaction (even if the machine offers higher or "other" amounts), so just try again with a smaller amount.

Posted by
524 posts

I took both my neck wallet and money belt. I also wore my belt backwards and it never caused a tummy pooch. However, there were a few time when traveling I wore the neck wallet , when I knew I'd need my documents. Glad I had it. But I always used the money belt when touring.

We took 400 euros over and then decided it wasn't enough and got 200 more at the airport.

Posted by
752 posts

Figure on spending 50 to 100 Euro each, so that's 100 to 200 Euro total each day, depends on how you eat, taxis you take, souvenirs you buy, tickets you buy, hygiene products.

If you buy Euro at your bank before you leave, let them know you want small bills, 5s, 10s, 20s. You can split the bills between the two of you. Consider wearing a RS neck wallet, i wear mine long and tuck it inside my panties and wear a light scarf to hide the ribbons at my neck.

Posted by
983 posts

Laura B-So you carry all your cash, all your credit/debit cards and your passport on you at all times? I would be so paranoid if I walked around with everything on me (my brain just works that way). I always have to have a plan B, which includes taking 2 Credit cards (primary-on me, secondary- stays at the apartment/hotel), two debit cards from different banks (primary & secondary). My last trip the secondary cards were never used and I slept sound every night knowing they were there. My passport stays on me if I feel I need it, just a gut feeling kind of thing (for some reason I had that feeling in Paris, so I kept in on me Oct 2016) . I always have my drivers license on me for ID (and for audio deposits if needed for a site we are visiting) in case I am unconscious somewhere. I love hearing different ways of traveling, I may look into a money belt for me (Husband only has one and is our walking vault).

Posted by
1667 posts

We normally start the trip with €300. I order online from my bank and choose the small bill option. We use the credit card in shops and pay cash for petty items and if eating at a local restaurant even if they take cards. It won't take you long to get the hang of how much cash to get and how often.

We both wear waist money belts with our passports and the bulk of our cash. I usually have a half day's cash on hand, not enough to worry about if stolen but enough so I don't have to advertise my money belt. When I need more, I find an out of the way place to access more from the money belt.

Don't overthink. Practice situational awareness. Keep a low profile. Read up on common scams and rip off tactics. It's good to be vigilant but not to the point of paranoia. I felt safer in Rome and Florence than I do in some parts of Atlanta.

Posted by
23 posts

Great feedback. Zoe-- Thanks especially for tip about hitting ATM limits. I imagine I would have been in a bit of a panic if that happened and I didn't have that info.

Posted by
17165 posts

I haven't seen very many ATMs in Europe that give you a choice of bill denominations. (As someone reported here, BBVA in Spain does offer a choice.) Perhaps that varies by country. I've found that most ATMs deliver as many 50-euro notes as possible then use 20s for the rest. Very rarely, a 10-euro note shows up. Once I even received a couple of 100-euro notes. I hate the 50's and--in my world--the 100's are nearly useless, because I charge any moderate to large purchase on my mileage card and no one in a small market or cafe wants to give 93 euros (or even 43 euros) in change.

To avoid large notes, I make mostly 40-euro withdrawals even though it means three or more transactions per week. My credit union and Capital One (back-up account) do not charge per withdrawal.

As noted above, ATMs are just about everywhere in commercial districts. That includes areas around most tourist sites because the tourist sites attract small shops. You just have to think ahead if you're going to a big green space and may need money. An art market in the middle of a park may be a several-block walk from the nearest ATM. I went on a bit of wild-goose chase in Bulgaria last year when the ATM suggested by an art vendor turned out to be out of order.

Although I'm completely comfortable leaving valuables in my hotel room, locked in my suitcase, keeping an entire trip's worth of cash (hundreds or even thousands of euros) falls in the "unnecessary risk" category to me. I guess this difference of opinion may relate to how packed the trip is. I take long trips and am never rushed unless I'm heading for the bus or train station, so a few minutes for another ATM stop means nothing to me.

Posted by
5399 posts

For Letizia -- yes, I carry all my credit and debit cards, passport and deep-storage cash strapped to my body, since leaving them unattended in a strange place (hotel or apartment) would make ME nervous. One credit card and daily-use cash in a coin purse in my cross-body bag, plus debit card on a day when I plan to use the ATM.

Posted by
7124 posts

As a person travelling solo in. Europe I always withdraw 300€ at a time. So, I'd suggest 500€ then split between the two of you.

Posted by
25 posts

I usually budget for a single person E50 daily as some tours only pay for breakfast and half the dinners; this way there is money for purchases along the way other than food; of course there is the money belt and credit cards; I use the money belt in Italy as lots of pickpockets and have had trouble twice with safes that didn't open and had to get management and once a tradesman to open the safes -- thank heavens it wasn't on a departure day; I keep E50 in a purse each day and the rest in the money belt along with my passport and e-tickets; if I know I am planning to purchase an item and don't want to deplete my funds I take the credit card out of the money belt and put in my purse for that day; pretty hard to get funds out of a money belt while in a shop and everyone is watching and also there is an issue with ATM's as they are not as common as in America; we seem to have one almost around every corner or at our banks but I certainly haven't seen as many in Europe; had a woman once on tour who only took out E50 each time and almost every place we stopped we had to help her find a bank machine - yikes! If your bank charges for withdrawals and for foreign currency (other than for the exchange rate) that is also sometime to think about.

Posted by
256 posts

We just returned, we took $100 a day in euros and it worked out fine.

Posted by
11983 posts

See how much your bank charges you in fees for each out of network (and international) ATM transaction. In most cases to minimize ATM fees it is best to minimize withdrawals by withdrawing as much as possible at each withdrawal.

Theft is not a big issue in Venice, and having too many euros at the end of the trip is not an issue either. Just pay your last hotel in cash so that you are left with just enough money for the taxi ride to the airport and little more. You can also exchange euro back in the US or keep some for your next trip if you plan to go back the following year.