Earlier this week I wrote about the potential danger of traveling to Thailand without sufficient cash. The discussion in the comments section took me by surprise: how much cash is reasonable when traveling abroad?
Some mocked the $300-600 cash requirement for entering Thailand, claiming it was irresponsible to ever travel with anything less. Others, like me, pointed out that in this age of credit card and ATMs, there is no reason to carry wads of cash.
Cash is prone to loss and subject to money changers who invariably offer an exchange rate worse than an ATM. I hate carrying cash and changing cash and therefore avoid it where possible.
There are exceptions. I am forced to use cash in Germany at far more places than I’d like because Germans are so backwards when it comes to using credit cards. Step over the border into Switzerland, France, or the Netherlands and you can pay by credit card for anything, anywhere. When I went Cuba, I brought plenty of Euros (U.S. Dollars are penalized by 10%) because credit card and even ATM debit cards are not accepted. Other places, like visiting Burma, also required hard currency.
But for most of the world, you’re fine with a credit card and even when you need cash, an ATM is not far away. I always carry about $200USD of emergency cash, just in case, but that is most certainly a risk I am willing to take over the risk that I’ll lose the cash or be the victim of a horrible exchange rate scheme or even in receipt of counterfeit money (both have happened).
How about you? How much cash is reasonable to take along with you on a vacation? Do you feel you are “risking it” by relying upon credit cards and ATM machines?