It can be difficult to know how much cash to bring when going abroad. Generally speaking, exchanging about $200 USD is a good idea, unless you know you are going on quite a few excursions where you will need to pay cash. There will be ATMs wherever you go and the exchange rate is usually good. You can always exchange any unused cash once you return. Remember, from Tip 85, exchange some small bills/coins so that you can use it right away when you land.
Considering that I typically use my debit or credit card, I rarely carry cash with me. If I do think about stopping at the ATM to get cash, I end up with a bunch of $20 bills. This is not so helpful when you’re faced with tipping situations during travel. Be sure to have a stash of smaller bills with you to show your appreciation for the bag handlers who assist you at the off-site parking lot, the airline terminal and at the hotel.
It is helpful to let your credit card company know you are traveling even if only a few states away. The bank’s fraud protection often proactively freezes your account if they notice unusual charges. I had to follow up with mine once just inside the Disney gate after charging our breakfast purchase nearby. Not a fun way to start the day.
Is it better to pay in foreign/local currency or your home one when given the option at the check out counter? Experts agree the conversion rate and fees are better if you pay in the local currency. So next time you get the option, chose the currency of that country and not your own. More on dynamic currency conversion here.