We live in a wonderfully diverse world and one of the greatest benefits of travel is the opportunity to experience different cultures and lifestyles. No one likes to be stereotyped as a “Tacky Tourist” or an “Ugly American.” Yet, people who are polite, patient, and pleasant at home sometimes behave in ways that are inappropriate, rude and offensive during travel. Try these tips to make sure travel etiquette on ship and shore is up to par:
The well-prepared traveler doesn't depend on any one method of travel funds. A combination of all four travel funds offer the peace of mind of knowing that your travel needs for pleasure and in an emergency are covered. Here are some additional money smarts for handling cruise travel funds:
Credit or charge cards are a fourth important source of cruise travel funds. The most widely accepted credit cards are Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Discover. Using a credit card also offers the benefit of a wholesale bank exchange rate and many credit cards offer perks like cash rebates or airline mileage.
Most importantly, when you use a credit card for purchases, you get some form of purchase protection. Never pay for a purchase to be shipped without using a credit card. Pay cash and fail to receive the goods…you are out of luck. Use a credit card for purchase and you have some “insurance.” Check with your card company before leaving to determine what travel benefits and protection are offered.
Even if you are opposed to using credit cards on a daily basis, cruise travel experts strongly recommend that you take at least one major credit card with a high available balance for travel. If you have a medical emergency or another type of emergency, a credit card is a must-have.
Whether you are cruising close to home or across the world, an ATM is a convenient and easily accessible source of cash. Even with the usage fee; you typically get a best rate of exchange since cash withdrawals from an ATM are at the wholesale bank rate. There are literally thousands of automatic teller machines linked through systems like Cirrus, Star, Honor and Visa. (Learn what systems an ATM card is valid with before leaving on your cruise.)
Most ATM cards also function as debit cards when making purchases. A debit card does just what it says. It debits your checking account for the amount of the transaction. Since most debit cards are processed through the Visa or Mastercard system, it is as easy to use them for purchases. That said, they do not offer the purchase protection or benefits of major credit cards. They are the same as paying cash.
Finally, do not depend on just an ATM card for your travel dollars. ATM systems can be “down” or a card's magnetic strip can be damaged and access to cash is cut off.
Travelers check usage has declined since the introduction of ATM/debit cards. However, many travelers still choose to get some “emergency” cruise travel funds in the form of American Express Travelers Checks. If you use travelers checks as your primary travel funds, you will get the best exchange rate at an American Express office, bank or post offices. Avoid the exchange bureaus on every corner in port shopping areas. They have the poorest rate of exchange and there are extra handling fees or per item fees for exchange transactions.
Heads Up: Do not keep your receipt with the traveler's checks. Have your travel companion carry the receipt for your checks and vice versa. If you are traveling alone, keep the receipt in a separate bag.)
Whether you are cruising in the
Always plan to carry a cushion of cash. That said, carrying too much cash is dangerous. Never flash your cash. Purchase a good money belt or neck pouch before you travel and never carry more cash than you can afford to lose.
Travel experts recommend taking $20 in $1 bills. Regardless of the local currency, $1 bills are usually welcomed. Also when traveling with cash, ask for crisp, undamaged bills. Old and worn paper currency or bills that have been defaced with words or drawings are illegal or may not be accepted in some international locations.
Some travelers get foreign currency before leaving on their cruise. However, most local banks do not keep foreign currencies in stock. It must be ordered in advance for a fee. Most international cruise ships have an automatic teller machine (ATM) onboard with currency for each port of call and there are plenty of ATMs in ports around the world.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|