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Help with traveler's checks and suggestions on places to visit in Europe

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by dreunc1542, Jan 3, 2007.

  1. dreunc1542

    dreunc1542 Active Member

    Here's the situation:

    I am going to be studying abroad in London next semester. The school I go to has a school over there, but they do not have dorms or anything like that for us to live in. We have to find our own flat once we get over there. While I, and most everyone I've told this to, think this idea sounds ridiculous the school has been doing it for 35 years and said they've never had a problem with it. It was suggested to us that we have 2,000-3,000 dollars in traveler's checks for when we get over there, especially for our security deposit and first month's rent. We will have to make those payments within the first week of getting over there.

    Where I need help is figuring out what to do as far as traveler's checks. Does it make a difference whether I get them in dollars or pounds? I feel like having them in pounds would make the process of using the checks smoother. The problem is, I'm having trouble finding a place where I can get the checks in pounds. I talked to someone at the currency exchange at the airport near me and she said they could get me checks for 1,050 pounds. The only problem is the rate she gave me was much higher than the current exchange rate. When I questioned her on it, she gave me a reason but it sounded like B.S. The more I waffled, the more she brought the price down but it's still about 150 dollars more than what it should be. I feel like I should go elsewhere or just get american checks from my bank, but I'm not sure. So any suggestions as to what I should do would be much obliged. Also, if people want to suggest places to visit and such while I'm in Europe I would take those as well. The places that I would like to go, as of now, are: Prague, Paris, Seville, Athens, Dublin, throughout Italy and the Dalmation Coast.
     
  2. three_bags_full

    three_bags_full Well-Known Member

    You can't take a bad trip in Italy or Germany.
     
  3. Dyno

    Dyno Well-Known Member

    Granted it was 18 years ago, but I lived and worked in London for a summer when I was in college and had to find my own flat, too. It actually wasn't very hard to find something decent, clean, furnished and cheap (again, that was 18 years ago, but if your school still has people doing it, it must not have changed that much). Are there other people from your school going over? Finding roommates before you go over might make things a lot easier and cheaper.

    The school over there might be able to offer assistance in opening a bank account with a British bank, which is what I did after I started working. If that can't be done in time to get yourself into a flat, then I would get traveler's checks in pounds, not dollars. I don't know where you are, but is there an American Express office anywhere near you? You might even be able to order travelers checks online. I haven't used them in many, many years, but regular banks used to carry them, too. You might have to order them in advance.

    As for good side trips, definitely take advantage of being over there to explore as much of Europe as you can. There are a number of low cost carrier airlines over there that run fare specials that are insanely cheap.

    London is an amazing city. The summer I spent there is one of the high points of my life and I've been back a few times since. If you want any more info, feel free to PM me.
     
  4. writing irish

    writing irish Active Member

    Lots of places don't take travelers checks, although your school makes it sound like in London the landlords do, although I have no idea about that. Best thing to do, I think, is to have the money in a bank account and withdraw it from an ATM when you need it with a Visa Check Card or the like. Yes you pay an ATM fee, but when dealing with money abroad, you generally have to end up forking over a service charge to someone at some point.

    Always change currency at a bank, preferably a bank not near an airport/train station/etc. You'll always be getting screwed over changing money at one of those little currency exchange places.

    You sound like you have a shitload of money, kid.
     
  5. dreunc1542

    dreunc1542 Active Member

    I know a few other kids from my school going, so the roommates thing is no problem. And yes, I plan on seeing as much as possible. I only have class Mon-Wed so I have 4 day weekends to travel.
     
  6. dreunc1542

    dreunc1542 Active Member

    Not so much. I just happened to work my ass off in high school and got a real nice scholarship that helps out with these type of things.
     
  7. writing irish

    writing irish Active Member

    Well, if you're not a trust fund baby, watch out for London. It is indeed a wonderful city, but it's very, very expensive.

    Say hello to Paul Weller and the lads for me.
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Mighty_Wingman

    Mighty_Wingman Active Member

    Go East, young man.

    Not only is Eastern Europe waaaay cheaper -- and Easyjet has plenty of cheap flights every day -- but the people are friendlier and it's not crawling with tourists. Plus, the women are so beautiful as to boggle the mind.

    Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland, Lithuania, even Bosnia...all great, and cheap. Great food, delicious beer, cheap lodgings, unbelievably gorgeous scenery and of course hot chicks. Austria's more expensive and Slovakia's a little bleak, but they're still nice. My one regret is that I missed Bulgaria and Romania, which are supposed to be a blast.

    If you're not interested in straying that far afield, Paris is a must. I really believe everyone should see Paris and Rome once in their lives. Barcelona's great too...I don't know anyone who's had a bad time anywhere in Spain or Italy.

    As for traveler's checks, I've always used ATMs. There were some fees, but nothing totally outrageous, and it cut waaaay down on the problems of changing money. Plus you don't have to worry about losing your traveler's checks somewhere or dealing with places that don't take them.
     
  9. writing irish

    writing irish Active Member

    Good call on Central/Eastern Europe, Wingman. What you say is true. Beautiful women, beautiful cities, beautiful countryside and Pilsener. Hard to go wrong.
     
  10. dreunc1542

    dreunc1542 Active Member

    I'm starting to look into Eastern Europe more and more. At first I was looking at just Western, but now I realize how expensive that is.
     
  11. HeinekenMan

    HeinekenMan Active Member

    If you're so inclined, you might try some camping. I remember taking some camping trips when I was a tiny tot. It's not exactly luxury, but then most folks don't spend their time in a hotel room when they're vacationing.

    I'd definitely throw Germany in there. Try hitting an Octoberfest, if you'll be there at that time. There are tons of castles in Europe, and some are must-sees. There are amazing churches as well, most Gothic, I believe. I'd definitely do France and Italy as well. But don't just hit Paris. Remember that there is a lot to see in smaller European cities, and much of it will cost less.

    I enjoyed going to Loch Ness in Ireland, but I'll let folks with more knowledge advise you on whether to hit that neck of the woods.

    And stay away from chain stores. Buy your breads and pastries and such in a bakery, buy your meat in a butcher shop, buy your cheese in a cheese shop.
     
  12. OTD

    OTD Active Member

    Last summer when I went to Europe I was advised to bring some travelers' checks because of some switch in the ATMs there that meant I might not be able to use them. This turned out to be not the case, but of course no one wanted my U.S. travelers checks then. I ended up dumping them on the long-term parking on the way home.

    ATMs are very plentiful and the exchange rate is usually OK.
     
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