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Travel tips

Currency exchange for a trip to Europe

Nov 20, 2015 by Courtney Keller

Getting ready for a trip to Europe? One important aspect you’ll want to plan ahead for is currency exchange. Here are a few pointers to get you prepared for dealing with money matters, from checking the value of euros to dollars to changing your currency while on tour.

a hundred US dollar bill, a ten US dollar bill, and a 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 euro bills

1. Look up your destination country’s currency

While many countries in Europe use the euro, it’s a good idea to double-check what currency is used in the country or countries you’ll be visiting. Nineteen European countries operate on the euro, but many popular destinations including England, Sweden, Croatia, and the Czech Republic do not. You’ll find currency information in the “on-tour info” tab when looking at any of our tours to Europe.

2. Check the current exchange rate

The exchange rate tells you how much of one currency is equivalent to one dollar. Since it’s based on many factors—including supply, demand, stability and more—this conversion rate is constantly fluctuating. You can easily find the current exchange rate of euros to dollars online at sites like or by running a simple Google search. Downloading the Go Ahead app or another currency converter app is a great idea if you’d like to check the exchange rate while you’re on the go.

3. Give your bank a heads up

Let your bank and credit card companies known when you’ll be traveling internationally and where you’ll be going. You can either call, go online or visit your local bank to do so. Be sure to ask if any foreign transaction fees apply to the use of your debit or credit cards internationally as well, so you can avoid any additional fees your banks may charge. Don’t forget to bring the phone number of your bank along while you’re traveling, just in case you need to contact them.

4. Consider ordering euros before you leave

If you’d feel more comfortable arriving at your destination with a little cash on hand, you can order euros you’re still at home. Check with your bank to see what options they offer, or use another organization such as AAA. Keep in mind that this step is up to you and doesn’t always get you the best exchange rate—it’s not necessary to obtain euros before traveling to most European countries.

5. While traveling, use your debit card at an international ATM

Once you’re in Europe, you can use your debit card at an international ATM machine. You’ll find these machines at many airports, hotels, and throughout many cities, but remember that your bank may charge a foreign transaction fee. Avoid the currency exchange counters and kiosks at the airport. These typically don’t use the best exchange rates and may charge additional service or conversion fees. When in doubt, ask your Tour Director for help or to point you in the direction of the closest ATM.

6. Bring your credit card, too

While you’ll want to have some smaller currency on hand for tipping your Tour Director, bus driver and local guides, you will be able to use a credit card at many restaurants and shops in Europe. Keep in mind that Discover and American Express are not as widely accepted overseas.

With these currency exchange tips in mind, you’ll be all set for your trip to Europe!

Know before you go
About the author | Courtney Keller
A lover of travel since studying in France, Courtney strives to inspire others to get out and see the world. When she’s not writing, she’s trying new restaurants, reading, doing yoga, baking, walking her rescue pup, or planning her next trip.