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For many, getting to a new destination is their top priority. It can be exciting and fantastic – but scary if you have an emergency. Fortunately, there are ways to help prevent disaster, including carrying the right amount of cash to avoid getting into trouble.
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We spoke with travel experts around the world to determine how much you should bring to cover unexpected expenses. While the suggested amount will vary depending on where you’re going, most people agree that cash is almost everywhere. So whether your next vacation is a journey through the Swiss Alps or sipping a margarita by the pool, we’ve got you covered.
Here’s what our experts say about how much cash you should keep in storage during a travel emergency.
Carry cash with you, but hide it
Solo female travel expert Kate McCulley, publisher of AdventureKate, notes that she keeps “$100 in my suitcase” and recommends keeping up to $300 if you’re going to less developed places.
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During her travels, she finds that “the dollar is king no matter where you are, and it can easily get you out of an emergency.” She also keeps a backup credit card in case of unexpected emergencies or theft, but recommends traveling Those who insist on using Visa or Mastercard because some countries do not accept American Express.
Also, especially going to Cuba, she said, “you need to carry enough cash for the entire trip, because Americans can’t use ATMs or credit cards anywhere.”
When cash gets you in trouble
Josh Brand, author of A Backpacker’s World, recommends “always” carry $80 to $100. This should include unplanned transport and accommodation costs, he noted. He did warn travelers not to carry too much, as the money could be lost or stolen.
For travelers to international destinations, Brand said they “absolutely should convert to their local currency,” especially in places like Southeast Asia where it may be more difficult to use the U.S. dollar. Also, smaller or independently owned companies may not accept credit cards or U.S. dollars from less developed countries.
cash and credit
Anna Krizova, a travel blogger at Camino Adventures, agrees that “the amount of emergency cash you need depends on where you’re going.” She always carries two credit cards and cash for emergencies. When traveling in Europe, she recommends carrying 50 to 200 euros (currently equivalent to 50 to 200 dollars). In the US, she said the cash amount should also be between $50 and $200.
International travelers who have the opportunity to pay in U.S. dollars or local currency should break down their emergency reserves into small denominations and exchange half of them into local currency, Krizova said. Travelers to remote areas should be aware that they may have “limited currency exchange options”, so she said you should exchange all funds into local currency.
When looking to exchange currencies, travelers need to pay attention to exchange rates. “Exchange rates at airports and bus terminals, as well as exchange offices near city centers or tourist attractions, are lower than in less popular places,” Krizova said.
Get ready for your next trip
Now that you know exactly how much cash you should keep on hand for a travel emergency, you can get busy booking your next trip. Our experts agree that around $100 should get you through most unforeseen circumstances.
Remember: you want enough money to cover any unexpected expenses, but not so much that losing it could bankrupt you. Make the most of your hotel safe and split your money between your luggage so you won’t be broke in the event of loss or theft.
When in doubt, you should have enough cash on hand to ensure you don’t starve or get from point A to point B. If you want to hedge your bets, carry at least two points cards in addition to cash – one for everyday expenses and one hidden in your luggage for unexpected expenses.
Lastly, make sure you don’t use your emergency funds for anything other than emergencies.
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