If you’re planning a holiday to Greece the recent economic turmoil may have you thinking twice about whether to go ahead with your trip. Here’s how to prepare and ensure your visit goes as smoothly as possible.
What’s the latest?
Greece’s membership of the Eurozone is hanging by a thread.
After numerous loans from the IMF, ECB and other Eurozone members, Greece is simply running out of money to pay its creditors. The first major deadline is a 1.6bn Euro repayment due to the IMF June 30, which Greece currently has no means to repay.
If an agreement cannot be met it is likely to mean that Greece could be the first Eurozone member to default on its debts. In response to the crisis the Greek Prime Minister has called a vote on whether to accept or reject the latest bailout proposals on Sunday.
What happens if you have already booked a trip to Greece?
While the economic situation in Greece looks bleak there are no travel restrictions in place and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth office has not advised against travel to the country. In reality, most of the tourist areas of Greece are likely to continue operating as normal for the foreseeable future as the tourist industry is a valuable part of the Greek economy and most tourist areas are far away from the centres of any political protests or demonstrations, which centre in Athens.
Can you cancel your trip to Greece?
Yes you can but you probably won’t get a refund if you do. Most insurers don’t consider the current economic issues a legitimate reason not to travel to Greece, so if you did cancel your trip you would be unlikely to get a refund from them.
How can you prepare?
One of the main issues facing holidaymakers travelling to Greece this summer is that banks are closed and a 60 euro limit has been placed ATM withdrawals. These restrictions don’t apply to foreign accounts but many banks are already low on cash and those that do have euros have long queues to withdraw money, so accessing cash while you’re away could be tricky.
This means that if you’re travelling to Greece you need to take cash yourself, ideally enough to cover day to day spending for the duration of your trip.
If you can help it, don’t buy your travel money at the airport because the rates you’ll get will be much worse than if you order online in advance or even visit a high street exchange.
Have a back-up plan
Travelling with large amounts of cash isn’t ideal so it’s sensible to take a prepaid or debit card with you and, if you have one, a credit card too. Card transactions will still be accepted, so use them where you can to avoid using up your cash.
Be aware that some retailers may refuse cards and ask you to pay in cash because it’s in short supply.
Sort out your travel insurance before you leave
If you’ll be travelling with more cash than normal you need to make sure your travel insurance is up to the mark, many insurers restrict the amount of cash they’ll cover so you need to know what your limit is and plan accordingly.
If all your cash won’t be covered, try to keep it safe and avoid leaving your hotel or accommodation with more than you need.
Shop around for the best travel rates
The pound has been strong against the euro over the past few weeks, making it an ideal time to change currency for your holiday; but it’s impossible to predict what the future will hold. The outcome of the Greek vote is likely to have a large influence on the future of Greece in Europe and if the Greek people vote ‘no’ the long term future of the euro itself could be under question.
The only thing that’s certain is that the currency market will be volatile and while we could see the euro soar, it’s quite possible the opposite will happen.
If you need currency now then keep an eye on travel money rates, shop around and order your foreign cash or top up a currency prepaid card when you find a competitive rate you’re happy with.