How do I pay for stuff abroad?
The short answer: use your card.
Check with your credit card company and see if they charge any foreign transaction fees. If so, we recommend applying for another credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees. Once you determine which card you are going to use abroad, call them and tell them the dates of your travel so they will know its you making purchases abroad and not block your credit card.
Also check with your bank to see if you can use your debit card for purchases. They may have friendlier foreign transaction fees than your credit card company. Also check about their fees for withdrawing money from an ATM abroad. For example, our U.S. bank account charges us $1 for using an ATM plus 1% of the amount withdrawn. When we withdraw $100, they charge us $2; that’s better than in the States! Also let them know your dates of travel so they don’t shut down your account.
If you have 2 cards that you can use abroad, you should be all set. One should be fine, but in the event you lose it or if your company puts a hold on your account (despite your best efforts by telling them you’re abroad), it is great peace of mind to know you have a back up money option.
How much cash do I need?
Just bring some U.S. dollars to get you through the American side of your travels if you’d like. Credit cards are accepted just about everywhere now, so maybe just $20 for that coffee and muffin at the airport.
Don’t worry about having cash to exchange at the Currency Exchange booth in the airport. ATMs rarely have fees in Europe (other than what your bank charges). Currency Exchange booths typically give you a poor exchange rate and charge a fee. Plus, just about everywhere takes credit cards.
Once abroad, find an ATM, pop in your card, and withdraw some Euros. The things you may want cash for are street vendors (gelado for 3.5 euros!), buying that postcard for 1 euro, or the 3 euro bus ticket. Start with $50-$100. You can always withdraw more if need be. This way you have a bit of cash for small purchases and you’re not walking around with lots of bills in your wallet.
How much money should I budget?
Your main expenses will be the trip fee and your flight.
Beyond that, you’ll need to book your train tickets to Chamonix and train tickets from Chamonix to wherever you’re going after the trip is over. Train lines from major cities, i.e Paris to Chamonix or Zurich to Chamonix may be about $75-$150.
You’ll also want to budget money for eating and drinking the local fare. You can easily get by on a budget of about $25-$30 per day for dinner and a drink or two. You can go cheaper than this if you choose cheaper items. For example, you can grab a sausage, baguette, cheese, and a bottle of wine from the grocery for about $15 and make that last for a couple of days. It’s up to you!
Take a look at the Choose Your Own Adventure activities and prices. If you want to paraglide over Chamonix (do it!), be sure to budget in that activity fee.
Lastly, budget in any spending money for odds and ends. A postcard is 1 euro. There’s TONS of shopping options in Chamonix for clothes and shoes. Birkenstocks are about 100 euros. So consider if you want to set aside any shopping money for souvenirs or the must-have find in the shops.
Double check the “What’s Included” section. Remember that most of the food and all of the transportation and lodging during the trip is included.