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Old Apr 7, 12, 3:43 pm   #376
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Originally Posted by fredandgingermad View Post
i'd get a travel wallet that can be worn underneath clothing rather than carrying a wallet in your pocket or in a bag

agree on the card issue, only in chain type places have i been able to use Amex, normally in Europe and the UK i use Visa, Mastercard or cash
Cool.. I've got Infinite Visa as well as the Amex. and yes, the wallet underneath would make sense, as there are quite a few professional pick pocketers.. but I wear my wallet in the front pocket because my wallet is so huge with all of the mile collection methods and cards.

I'm planning to withdraw money from bank accounts on an ongoing basis.. Sounds like ATMs are pretty accessible.. but want to double check.
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Old Apr 7, 12, 4:46 pm   #377
 
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Empty the wallet of all those cards, keep only the essentials (credit and ATM cards, airline one if it gives you lounge etc). Random hotel loyalty etc write them on one wallet card or have them in your phone, you do not need all the cards. Day to day my wallet has a gazillion cards, but traveling you don't need you HBC / Chapters / Costco / Moviewatchers etc cards.
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Old Apr 9, 12, 10:15 am   #378
 
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Originally Posted by Ancien Maestro View Post
Cool.. I've got Infinite Visa as well as the Amex. and yes, the wallet underneath would make sense, as there are quite a few professional pick pocketers.. but I wear my wallet in the front pocket because my wallet is so huge with all of the mile collection methods and cards.

I'm planning to withdraw money from bank accounts on an ongoing basis.. Sounds like ATMs are pretty accessible.. but want to double check.
Yes, of course we have ATMs around. Just like in North America, however, the one you are seeking may not be in the area, and residential neighbourhoods have fewer than commerical centres. If you follow my advice, you will be very well covered by BNP Paribas in France, and relatively well covered in the UK and in Germany. But always have cash on hand, and especially remember that you may have to pay for using the bathroom and plan for that. If not dining out, I carry at least 50 Euro in France and 100 Euro in Germany in my wallet.

I actually don't agree with 'money belt' type things.

I see many people lifting their shirts to look at the cash on their belly whilst waiting to pay for a coffee. It's like announcing 'I have enough cash to need to hide it, but I'm not hiding it very well!'

The key is to be smart, and pack common sense. Yes, there are pick pocketers, but they look for the very easy targets, and there are a lot of those travelling around 'Europe' in peak season. I shake my head at how clueless they appear, and how easy they make it for someone to take advantage of them.

My standard advice for travel anywhere includes
- Don't engage. When the woman runs up calling 'speak English?!' just walk by. When the person 'finds' a gold ring on the ground and asks if it is yours, just walk by. When the person with the card table invites you to play a round, just walk by. There are a range of common 'scams' and they prey on the obvious inexperienced or first time visitor. I am amazed at how many fall victim
- Don't wear a backpack. A bulky backpack makes it difficult for you to find things, and the access is not in your view so it makes it easy for someone to remove items in a queue, on a train, in a station, etc. And too bulky items are prohibited in some churches and museums
- Dress appropriately. If you look like someone who has taken the time to research and respect local culture and norms, you will be less of a target. The person who insists on wearing shorts for dining in nicer restaurants or for touring cities/museums/churches stands out (and may be denied entry into some places)
- Do learn a few phrases and use them. If you walk up to the coffee counter (or to me) in France, or in Germany, or any non-English speaking country, and without even saying a local greeting launch into your locally accented English, it makes you a target. See point above: someone who takes some time to learn about local norm/customs is less of a target
- Be organised. Read about how to use ticket machines in advance. Print off directions or a map. Jot down the tube stations/metro stations you will need. Standing in a metro station blocking traffic, or taking 10 minutes to purchase a ticket, or shouting 'Doesn't ANYONE speak English?!' all mark one as an inexperienced traveller
- Blend in. All of the above really leads to this. The more you blend in, the less of a target you become. Nobody will ever mistake you for a local, but if you take some time to do some research, you will appear to be somewhat prepared and again, less of a target
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Old Apr 9, 12, 2:35 pm   #379
 
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Originally Posted by exbayern View Post
Yes, of course we have ATMs around. Just like in North America, however, the one you are seeking may not be in the area, and residential neighbourhoods have fewer than commerical centres. If you follow my advice, you will be very well covered by BNP Paribas in France, and relatively well covered in the UK and in Germany. But always have cash on hand, and especially remember that you may have to pay for using the bathroom and plan for that. If not dining out, I carry at least 50 Euro in France and 100 Euro in Germany in my wallet.

I actually don't agree with 'money belt' type things.

I see many people lifting their shirts to look at the cash on their belly whilst waiting to pay for a coffee. It's like announcing 'I have enough cash to need to hide it, but I'm not hiding it very well!'

The key is to be smart, and pack common sense. Yes, there are pick pocketers, but they look for the very easy targets, and there are a lot of those travelling around 'Europe' in peak season. I shake my head at how clueless they appear, and how easy they make it for someone to take advantage of them.

My standard advice for travel anywhere includes
- Don't engage. When the woman runs up calling 'speak English?!' just walk by. When the person 'finds' a gold ring on the ground and asks if it is yours, just walk by. When the person with the card table invites you to play a round, just walk by. There are a range of common 'scams' and they prey on the obvious inexperienced or first time visitor. I am amazed at how many fall victim
- Don't wear a backpack. A bulky backpack makes it difficult for you to find things, and the access is not in your view so it makes it easy for someone to remove items in a queue, on a train, in a station, etc. And too bulky items are prohibited in some churches and museums
- Dress appropriately. If you look like someone who has taken the time to research and respect local culture and norms, you will be less of a target. The person who insists on wearing shorts for dining in nicer restaurants or for touring cities/museums/churches stands out (and may be denied entry into some places)
- Do learn a few phrases and use them. If you walk up to the coffee counter (or to me) in France, or in Germany, or any non-English speaking country, and without even saying a local greeting launch into your locally accented English, it makes you a target. See point above: someone who takes some time to learn about local norm/customs is less of a target
- Be organised. Read about how to use ticket machines in advance. Print off directions or a map. Jot down the tube stations/metro stations you will need. Standing in a metro station blocking traffic, or taking 10 minutes to purchase a ticket, or shouting 'Doesn't ANYONE speak English?!' all mark one as an inexperienced traveller
- Blend in. All of the above really leads to this. The more you blend in, the less of a target you become. Nobody will ever mistake you for a local, but if you take some time to do some research, you will appear to be somewhat prepared and again, less of a target
In the UK I find specific ATMs harder to find, because the UK banks have an agreement that their customers can use each other's without a fee. E.g. there (and to use Canadian bank examples to keep it familiar), CIBC wouldn't charge me for using a TD ATM, nor would TD levy a charge. It means there seem to be fewer ATMs for each bank around compared with, say, Toronto. You will find an ATM, it just may be one you have to pay for.

Money belts I have mixed feelings about. I agree they scream tourist target, and, as most women in Europe carry a handbag, I feel comfortable doing the same, even in notorious cities such as Barcelona. For a guy, if you do wear a jacket, an inside pocket is the safest place (just watch things like hanging your jacket on a chair if you do this). Carry the minimum of cards etc. make sure you have a copy of the numbers and call centre number in case they get lost separate from them.
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Old Apr 9, 12, 3:07 pm   #380
 
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Re moneybelts. The correct way to use one is not to dig into it every time you'd normally use a wallet, thus making yourself a target. You should put a reasonable amount of spending money in your wallet, and use the moneybelt for extra cash--such as when you've just made a big withdrawal at an ATM--as well as your spare ATM card, spare credit card, passport if you're carrying it, etc. When you need to move money or anything else from the moneybelt to your wallet, you should do it somewhere like in a restroom or a dressing room in a shop or, if that's not possible, when inconspicuously hidden in a corner somewhere.

I often do use one when I travel. True, I don't use one at home, and it's also true that the locals probably aren't using one. But dealing with the consequences of being pickpocketed are not nearly as inconvenient or annoying when you're at home as when you're on the road.

When I did have have my wallet taken in Palermo, with minor injuries to myself, I was very glad that after leaving the ER I still had my passport, a credit card, and travellers checks (this was years ago), so that I didn't have to go through the rigamarole of replacing them and I wasn't left with no resources. I guess the alternative is to keep everything in a hotel safe, but that's not always available--for example, when you're travelling between destinations--and it's not always convenient if you want ready access to those things.

I really don't care if anybody else uses a moneybelt or not, but it works for me, even if other people think I'm an idiot.
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Old Apr 9, 12, 3:37 pm   #381
 
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When I did have have my wallet taken in Palermo, with minor injuries to myself, I was very glad that after leaving the ER I still had my passport, a credit card, and travellers checks (this was years ago), so that I didn't have to go through the rigamarole of replacing them and I wasn't left with no resources.
But you bring up a good point. Years ago, ATMs were not common, nor were credit cards, and thus people carried more a lot more cash, (or travellers cheques, which are becoming obsolete).

Travelling now is different in western 'Europe'; it is easier to access cash on a regular basis, even with no fees, and hence people are less likely to carry everything with them. And even though nobody wants to be the victim of crime, replacing even a passport can be easier now than it was in past, with electronic communication. (I also advise scanning passports and emailing yourself a copy so that you always have it accessible, should the worst happen)

I don't think that all people with moneybelts look like 'idiots', but I can think of several people I saw recently who did look completely clueless. A few months ago I was driving through a small German town popular with American tourists, and an older woman was walking along wearing a neck wallet hanging down the front of her jacket, and it looked to be quite filled with things. Now, a small German town isn't likely to have a lot of petty crime, but she looked like such an easy target for a petty thief, or even just someone who saw her as an opportunistic crime of snatch and grab. I just wondered at the lack of common sense of someone who would wear a pouch with money visible hanging around their neck, completely exposed. It was like someone carrying their money and valuables in a plastic bag, entirely defeating the purpose of a moneybelt.
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Old Apr 9, 12, 4:50 pm   #382
 
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I normally divide things between purse and money belt, but i agree if you go in them too often it makes things obvious
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Old Apr 9, 12, 5:17 pm   #383
 
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Originally Posted by exbayern View Post
I actually don't agree with 'money belt' type things.

I see many people lifting their shirts to look at the cash on their belly whilst waiting to pay for a coffee. It's like announcing 'I have enough cash to need to hide it, but I'm not hiding it very well!'
I use those horrible things under certain circumstances, at times when I might be vulnerable - for example when I'm carrying my luggage to a train, or I'm in transit in a crowded place. I never take cash or cards out of them in public, I'll only remove them in a private place so nobody sees that I'm wearing one. I only use them to carry excess cash for later in my trip, never as a source of money for shopping, restaurants etc.

I've worn them on overnight trains, but they can become damp with perspiration if they're worn too long when it's warm. They are never comfortable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by exbayern View Post
My standard advice for travel anywhere includes
- Don't engage. When the woman runs up calling 'speak English?!' just walk by. When the person 'finds' a gold ring on the ground and asks if it is yours, just walk by. When the person with the card table invites you to play a round, just walk by. There are a range of common 'scams' and they prey on the obvious inexperienced or first time visitor. I am amazed at how many fall victim
"Don't engage" is one of the smartest pieces of advice that anyone could give. A total stranger accosting you in the street is probably not going to have your best interests at heart. This is true all around the world, from the friendly, chatty western lady on a motorcycle in Phuket who is really trying to set you up for a time-share seminar, to the "deaf" girls in Paris who want you to sign a petition.
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Old Apr 11, 12, 12:08 pm   #384
 
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I use those horrible things under certain circumstances, at times when I might be vulnerable - for example when I'm carrying my luggage to a train, or I'm in transit in a crowded place. I never take cash or cards out of them in public, I'll only remove them in a private place so nobody sees that I'm wearing one. I only use them to carry excess cash for later in my trip, never as a source of money for shopping, restaurants etc.
+1 You're taking a tour and paying, at the end, with cash. Your
re shopping for expensive items and will be paying cash (maybe a mistake). You just went to an ATM machine and are bringing cash back to your hotel or cruise cabin (safe). Maybe your in transit and may fall asleep on a plane or train. Those are the times you use a money belt. Might even be a good idea to go to a bathroom when you add, or subtract, cash. Money for small purchases goes in your pocket. Some (paranoid?) people carry a "decoy" wallet for pickpockets. Small amount of cash and some worthless cards.
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Old Apr 11, 12, 3:12 pm   #385
 
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I would just like to say Lewis that when I visit your home state (or any state in the US), I don't carry money in my bra.
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Old Apr 27, 12, 7:53 am   #386
 
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The OP is staying at the Plaza in NYC and is looking for lower cost accommodations in London. Today's NY Times has an article concerning London and the Olympics. Suggestions on how to get tickets, flights and where to stay.

One option which hasn't been mentioned in this thread.

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You can even pitch a tent at designated sites in the city. Camp In London, a pop-up campsite on a field in Walthamstow, East London, is just four miles from the heart of the city and a less than 10-minute free shuttle bus ride from the Olympic Park. Pre-erected tents cost 40 a person or you can pitch your own for 15 a person. For more campsites visit www.2012camping.co.uk.
This will offer AMs family the complete range of accommodations during the course of his extensive vacation. A good way to offer balance during the trip. This will ensure maximum conversation value about the trip, both before and after. A full range of experiences.
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Old Apr 27, 12, 8:33 am   #387
 
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The OP is staying at the Plaza in NYC and is looking for lower cost accommodations in London. Today's NY Times has an article concerning London and the Olympics. Suggestions on how to get tickets, flights and where to stay.

One option which hasn't been mentioned in this thread.



This will offer AMs family the complete range of accommodations during the course of his extensive vacation. A good way to offer balance during the trip. This will ensure maximum conversation value about the trip, both before and after. A full range of experiences.
Well, that is a great budget suggestion. I'm in London this week, and instead of my usual Mayfair flat am in a rather large (for London) hotel room in one of the top properties. This room is actually I consider a bargain at 750GBP during the Olympics, and very centrally located. Similar locations can be still had for around 400GBP.

The challenge however will continue to be finding rooms which
1) permit more than 2-3 people in the room (yes, toddlers are counted at most locations)
2) have two beds in the room

Especially during the Olympics I suspect that hotels will be vigilant to confirm number of persons to both maximise revenues as well as avoid fire code violations.

Of course, when tent camping one doesn't need to worry about number of beds... OP was looking several times at the ranch at Disneyland Paris, so tent camping may be something he would consider. Europa Park has a great budget option ranging from shared floor space in a tipi, to space on the floor of a wooden wagon, to shared space on the floor of a log cabin. They are extremely popular and they had to expand in recent years to add more options.
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Old Apr 27, 12, 1:28 pm   #388
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Originally Posted by exbayern View Post

I don't think that all people with moneybelts look like 'idiots', but I can think of several people I saw recently who did look completely clueless. A few months ago I was driving through a small German town popular with American tourists, and an older woman was walking along wearing a neck wallet hanging down the front of her jacket, and it looked to be quite filled with things. Now, a small German town isn't likely to have a lot of petty crime, but she looked like such an easy target for a petty thief, or even just someone who saw her as an opportunistic crime of snatch and grab. I just wondered at the lack of common sense of someone who would wear a pouch with money visible hanging around their neck, completely exposed. It was like someone carrying their money and valuables in a plastic bag, entirely defeating the purpose of a moneybelt.

I agree.
If you add up all my trips together, out of the last 9 years, I spent 3 years of my life traveling in foreign countries, from Albania to Zimbabwe. Not once have I worn a money belt.

here is why:
a) its inconvenient
b) it makes you an obvious target
c) I never got why people put their passports there, a thief is not interested in your passport, but if its packed away with cash, they are not going to pick and choose
d) When I go out, especially when booze will be involved, I never carry a wallet, just one card and some cash in my pocket, usually in different pockets too. Its crazy to take all your crap out when roaming around the worst pickpocket places like Italy and Spain. When required by law, like Kyrgyzstan for example, carry a half page copy of passport as well.



I do however, own a couple of these, they are great for storing large bills. If you gonna rob me, you gonna have to take my pants off.

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Old Apr 28, 12, 9:41 am   #389
 
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After a Saturday of fighting start of season tourists, I hope that I won't be back in London until September (much as I love London...)

There were queues of up to 3 hours at LHR T5 immigration this week for non-EU/UK visitors (with no sign that the government is looking at reducing this - they claim to have 'strong plans for the Olympics' but what they are, nobody knows, and certainly if this week and previuos weeks are any indication, best of luck)

At 9am the queue for the ticket window at the tube station I entered was blocking the entire entrance. The ticket machines were all blocked with people trying to use the machines but obviously not able to figure them out. I suspect that this Olympics will see more 'clueless tourists' as London is somewhat of an 'easy' Olympics compared to Beijing, Rio, etc.

On another thread, OP said that TfL would just put on extra trains. That gave some of us a chuckle. I used at least six stations today, and in each one had to use stairs and/or elevators. At one station there was a man in a wheelchair who had gotten off a train (which was not level to the platform) and was angrily discussing with a worker how he could get to his destination. There are few accessible stations on some lines, and their suggestion that he 'get out of his wheelchair' was rightfully met with disgust when he pointed out that he is paralysed and that is not an option. Using a stroller during these crowds, with many stairs, will be a serious challenge.

While many of us will avoid London during the Olympics, I still foresee some very challenging times especially using public transport. (And regarding taxis, the queue at Paddington was longer than I have seen it at that time of day/week and overflowed well out of the queue area)

Again, I think that the Olympics can be an exciting time to visit, but one has to be realistic and prepared.

And to tag onto Lewis' post, there is a youth hostel very well located at Carter Lane with family rooms starting at about 25GBP with kids eat free (no idea of the rates during Olympics, or if they even have availability) I haven't used a hostel in London (although I do have vague memories of tent camping a few decades ago, perhaps near Wimbledon, or it may have been for a festival somewhere else)
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Old May 7, 12, 7:45 am   #390
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Originally Posted by emma69 View Post
Money belts I have mixed feelings about. I agree they scream tourist target, and, as most women in Europe carry a handbag, I feel comfortable doing the same, even in notorious cities such as Barcelona. For a guy, if you do wear a jacket, an inside pocket is the safest place (just watch things like hanging your jacket on a chair if you do this). Carry the minimum of cards etc. make sure you have a copy of the numbers and call centre number in case they get lost separate from them.
+1

I have also emailed numbers/phone numbers to myself (odd parsing of numbers, email title that doesn't reflect contents). This is in the unlikely event that somehow I lose everything (including my backup copies). I include a scanned copy of my passport page. Worst possible scenario, I've lost everything, if I can logon on somewhere, I can access the necessary info. It also keeps it out of the hands of someone else (I have worried about a copy of my passport being lost/stolen and misused, let alone account numbers).

I think some folks also fail to understand the distinction between 'money belt' (under clothes, not accessed in full view of the public) and 'fanny pack' worn in the front and accessed all the time. I'm leery of jacket pockets because I'm more likely to forget a jacket than a purse or pack (or money belt!)
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