Hundreds of ATMs have reportedly run out of cash, as Greeks rush to remove their money from the country’s shaky financial system. Though foreigners are not subject to the 60-euro limit, there are reports that they still run into the same empty cash machines as the locals. But not every traveler has experienced troubles this week in Greece, and there are practical steps you can take to prevent any headaches.
A handful of American travelers who are clients of Ronnie Liadis, president and owner of Liadis Travel, based in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, had no issues during these last few days in Greece, when the country essentially shut down its banks. These include travelers to Crete, Santorini and Athens.
“I had clients who just returned yesterday,” Liadis said, adding that no problems except long lines for gas on Greece’s largest island of Crete.
Here are some travel tips to Greece:
1. Purchase euros ahead of time
“U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry more than one means of payment (cash, debit cards, credit cards), and make sure to have enough cash on hand to cover emergencies and any unexpected delays,” the State Department announced.
Liadis recommends travelers get euros before departing the U.S. at your bank or use your ATM card if connecting in another E.U. country.
2. Call your credit card companies.
With travel to any country, jetsetters should advise your debit or credit card company that you will be out of the country so they don’t flag your card if they see unusual activity, Liadis said.
3. Make sure your ATM card can be used outside the U.S.
This is another simple tip for American travelers to nearly any other country.
4. Find out which of your credit cards do not charge a fee for foreign currency transactions.
Travelers can sometimes choose to be charged in other countries with their local currency or U.S. dollars. If you decide to be charged in your home currency, you could be charged a fee from your bank of 3 to 7 percent. Some credit cards have no fees.
5. Make a copy of the information pages of your passports and keep them in separate part of your luggage.
In case anything happens to you or your passport, it’s helpful to have copies and to leave a copy with a friend in the U.S.
The State Department encourages U.S. citizens in Greece to enroll in its “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.”
“By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy or nearest Consulate to contact them in the case of an emergency. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Athens,” the State Department said.
6. Be cautious of protests
Greece, like many European countries, has peaceful demonstrations frequently, Liadis said. The U.S. Embassy in Athens posts the planned demonstrations on their website: athens.usembassy.gov.
As part of its security message to travelers on Sunday, the State Department said it recommends Americans “maintain a high level of security awareness and avoid political rallies and demonstrations as instances of unrest can occur.”
“Exercise caution and common sense: Avoid the areas of demonstrations, and if you find yourself too close to a demonstration, move in the opposite direction and seek shelter. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence,” the State Department said.