Heading to Greece?

If the crisis persists, Greece could become a very good deal for U.S. travelers.

At this writing, it isn’t clear whether Greece will default or not. Either way, however, traveling there poses some unusual problems:

  • Unless the crisis is averted, or maybe even if it’s just kicked down the road a few weeks, banks are shutting down some ATMs and limiting the daily withdrawal for locals. For now, banks apparently allow visitors with foreign credit and debit cards to withdraw the usual limits, but some banks are running out of paper currency.
  • Apparently merchants are not accepting credit cards, fearing that bank problems will prevent them from clearing charges.
  • Until the dust settles, take enough cash to get by if the ATMs don’t work or banks close. My guess is that euro, pound, Swiss franc, yen, and dollar currency will all be welcome. But if Greece drops the euro, its replacement currency will likely be unstable, so be sure to keep up with current rates.

Related: Greece’s Unspoiled Escape: The Peloponnese

If the crisis persists, and especially if Greece pulls out of the euro, dollar-equivalent hotel and restaurant prices may fall: Greece could be a very good deal if you’re willing to gamble a bit. But don’t rule out the possibility of widespread civil disturbances, especially in Athens. During prior financial problems, however, the islands remained relatively calm.

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By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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