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Author: naclegirl

Joined: 4/23/2013
Posts: 1
GCT Trips Taken: 0
OAT Trips Taken: 0

April 23, 2013

I would like to know what is the best way to get local currency (e.g. koruna in Czech Rep; forint in Hungary), how much should one carry for incidentals and how difficult is it to use the local transportation (e.g. trams, metros) in Prague and Budapest? Must you have the local currency in order to use the local transportation? Thank you for any help.

 

 

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 526
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

April 23, 2013

 ATMs are common in Prague and Budapest, but, as it is here, they dispense larger bills, so you really need the hotel cashiers to break them to smaller denominations. The transportation systems in both cities are very good, but I'm not sure if they would accept foreign currency, and if the do, the exchange rate would probably be terrible. When we were there, in 2002, it was difficult to exchange Hungarian currency in the Czech Republic. Most places that deal with tourists will accept dollars, but the exchange rate may not be advantageous. Excess local currency can always be used as a part of the tip for the Program Directors.

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
GCT Trips Taken: 7
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1999

April 23, 2013

I've been relying on ATMs to get local currency in Europe for years so I consider it the best way. Other people never use ATMs but I don't know why. Generally, you need to purchase tickets or passes for public transportation either from machines or sometimes newsstands using local currency. How easy it are to use depends on whether you have previously used public transportation and have done some research on what's available and how it works in the specific places you will be visiting. Do some internet searching and you will find more than enough information.  Also, PDs usually provide some orientation on using public transportation. If you ever need help, start asking local people waiting at stops or on the vehicles and you will soon find someone to help you.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 242
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1995

April 23, 2013

Some local bus/subways/metros allow credit cards to purchase the daily/multi-day cards for transportation.  In Singapore, where I lived, I just put mycredit  card in and out came a card, then I could just get my trans. card updated when I wanted to add money.  In Lucerne, we took a train to Bern and I used my debit card (as a credit card) and purchased two tickets that way with a return.  Was pretty easy.  Our PD took us to the train station (she didn't have to, but wanted to show us how to  use the ticket machine.)  Most transits use the card system which is good way not to get out coins or paper money each time to board/depart the bus/train.

 

Author: jl.anderson

Joined: 3/17/2010
Posts: 83
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

With OAT/GCT: China, Peru, Ecuador, Ukraine, Russia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, plus 40+ more countries on my own.

Traveler Since: 2007

April 23, 2013

Barbara:

May I suggest you consult Rick Steves European travel guides for practical information as to currency and using local transportation.  I know there is a Prague version and a Best of Eastern Europe version.  It's just good reading to learn these travel skills even if you are going to be with a GCT group.  

I have traveled on the local transportation in both Budapest and Prague.  I always use ATM's to get local currency.

Judy

Author: rwhansen

Joined: 3/5/2010
Posts: 66
GCT Trips Taken: 5
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2010

April 24, 2013

We have been to Prague three times and have obtained local currency from ATMs both at the airport and banks on the streets.  Use an ATM/debit card from your bank or credit union, and before leaving the US, inform them of your travel locations so they don't freeze your card due to suspected fraud.

It would also be best to carry two ATM/debit cards in the event one card is frozen.  We just returned from the UK, where in spite of informing of our travels, withdrawals were frozen for one of our cards.

While in Prague, we have taken both trams and subway without a currency problem.  As with any foreign country where stops are named in their native language, note the spelling on a map of the transit system so you know where you are and when to get off.

Author: garyrr

Joined: 8/25/2012
Posts: 125
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 16
Countries Visited:

Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe, S Africa, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Belize, Panama, Peru, New Zealand, Greece, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy, Ireland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Zambia

Traveler Since: 2000

April 24, 2013

As for ATM cards - remember most US banks charge a ridiculous fee "per transaction" (often $5).  However, there are internet banks (eg  Ally Bank, Capital One, etc) that offer free checking (or money market) accounts with ATM cards that do not charge anything for using another bank's ATM.  In addition, some (Ally for one) adds a maximum of 1% conversion fee (sometimes less - depending on where you are) -  others (namely the brick & mortar local banks )  will charge up to 3%.     So - do your homework on line -  and consider opening one of those accounts.  You can consider it your "travel" account so that you aren't using your regular account - should there be an issue with fraud, etc -   your only exposure is what you have in your "travel" account.

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