Credit, debit or cash? Clients often ask how best to pay for items when traveling internationally.
My answer really depends on where one is traveling. In most cases, I suggest using a credit card as often as possible. Credit cards subject you to the least amount of risk (banks cut off fraudulent use very quickly), and you get the most favorable exchange rates.
I usually take two cards, in the event one is declined for some reason. One card is sufficient if you are traveling with someone who also has a card that can be used as your back up. Just make sure the cards have a large enough credit line to cover your big expenses (hotel, car rentals, etc.). Keep in mind some locations require a deposit that may eat into your credit availability.
Advise your bank or credit card company where you will be traveling; otherwise it is almost guaranteed that your card will be declined, especially after the first purchase. These days notification can be done online. Also be sure to use cards without a foreign transaction fee. Those pesky fees add up quickly if you use your card often.
Another question that comes up quite often is the need for a PIN when using a credit card. Quite frankly, I have never needed a PIN for regular purchases. However I have heard of some locations requiring it. I request a PIN from my card company just in case.
Credit cards, though, are not perfect in all situations. When traveling to more remote areas or smaller towns that don't attract as many tourists, shops (smaller shops especially) may not accept credit cards. In many towns, including big cities, payment with credit cards require a minimum purchase, so if you are wanting a few post cards or a bottle of water, you'll either have to purchase more items or use cash. Credit cards are also the least best option to get local currency as they often come with higher fees and interest charges.
So what about debit cards and cash?
When visiting Amsterdam or Brussels (or this general area), add a couple of days to your itinerary so you can include a visit to Bruges.
I promise - you will not be disappointed.
Bruges is well known for its canals, cobblestone lanes and beautiful medieval buildings. The Old Town is wonderfully well preserved and home to unique and architecturally stunning buildings.
The only downside is that this town is not so secret any more. Everyone seems to know about it. The town's charm draws over 2 million visitors per year, especially in the summer months. We visited in early May, and while busy, I didn't find it overwhelming.
One of the fastest growing markets in the travel industry these days is multi-generational travel. It could be because 10,000 boomers are retiring every month, and many love to travel. Maybe they realize how quickly time passes by, and now is as good a time as ever to tackle that bucket list. Maybe they realize how travel brings families together, reconnecting and strengthening bonds.
Whether its three generations (grandparents, children and grandchildren) or two (grandparents and grandchildren, parents and children, aunts and nieces and nephews), there are many destinations that can be explored together to create memories you just can't stop talking about.
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder