Maybe I’ve gotten a little too blasé about traveling. What was once approached with actual penned lists, which were meticulously cross checked, has become a much more casual affair. I select a few favorite items of clothing and then flesh out my travel wardrobe while trying to remain committed to a color scheme. Navy blue has been my go to palette one last couple of trips. I toss in toiletries and any necessary electronic gadgets or chargers and go. Simple.
Getting out of town for my most trip was complicated by home and business responsibilities. There were some banking tasks that would need to be accomplished in my absence so I went through my wallet to leave ATM cards for those taking care of business while I vacationed. It seems I should have paid more attention to what I was doing…
We arrived in Barcelona Saturday morning after what had been a long day of work and travel. I approached an ATM in the airport and fumbled for my bank card to make a withdrawal…and it wasn’t there. I checked again, looking in compartments and pockets where I knew it wasn’t going to be and tried not to panic. Hmmm. Somehow I had left all of my ATM cards at home. How was I going to solve this problem?
I had 80 euros in my wallet from last year’s trip to France and both a Visa and an American Express card. On a European vacation many years ago my ATM card wouldn’t work at most of the bank machines I encountered and I resorted to taking cash advances on my credit card. I’d just do that again. I’d get dinged for some bank fees, but whatever. Simple.
Except, it was the weekend and there weren’t any banks open. Not a big deal, we’d just wait it out until Monday, right? My credit cards should cover us, I thought, as we grabbed a cab to get us to our accommodations. No problem. I was so confident that come Monday we’d be able to access cash via a cash advance which I could pay off immediately electronically, that I went ahead and spent 40 euros cash on the cab when the driver balked at my Visa card. It’s all good, except…
Monday came along and none of the banks I went into (there were 4 attempts on my part) would perform a cash advance transaction. My only option was to use an ATM, but I had never bothered to set up a pin, which once again left me high and dry. Now, though, I had even less cash. We were down to my last 20 after an indulgent cab ride home on Saturday night. Yes, we had spent 60 of our 80 euros on cab rides.
What did we do? We basically charged everything, which was fine because I had expressly obtained my Visa card because it came without fees for international transactions. As a matter of fact, I was earning cash back on my purchases. Not having cash definitely was a crimp in my style, but by no means was it the end of the world. We figured it out and ultimately a lack of cash didn’t translate at all to a lack of fun. Lesson learned. It won’t happen again.