A spokesman for Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis confirmed to CNN this morning that Greece will default to the International Monetary Fund, and Greece's bailout agreement with Europe expires tonight at midnight Central European Time. With Greek banks remaining closed today and the country's financial future uncertain, the country's tourism industry is already suffering. If you're in Greece or have plans to go, here's what you need to know.
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1. Bring Lots of Cash
Cash is king in Greece right now. The U.S. State Department warned travelers in a security message Sunday that there could be disruption not just to ATM services but to credit-card processing. Currently, ATMs withdrawal limits are capped at 60 Euros. Carrying Euros is the safest bet, but many businesses are accepting U.S. Dollars as well. Travelers report that some hotels are asking for cash payments in advance this week.
2. Avoid Protest Areas
For security reasons, it’s a good idea to avoid popular demonstration locations such as Syntagma Square in Athens, which is in front of the Old Royal Palace where Greek Parliament is located. “Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence,” the State Department message says. Check the U.S. Embassy website to learn about upcoming demonstrations.
3. Get Travel Insurance
If you aren’t already on vacation in Greece, it’s a good idea to invest in travel insurance before your trip. There are a lot of types of insurance out there, but Trip Cancellation Insurance is probably the most important one to consider if you haven’t booked yet — that way, if things escalate further and you decide you’re not comfortable traveling, you can get your money back. Make sure to read our full rundown on the types of travelers insurance available.
4. Consider a Package Deal
The advantage of a package deal is that most of your costs — often including airfare, hotel stays, and even meals — are paid upfront before you even leave your home country, so there’s less of a chance that your hotel or activity guide will ask for your precious out-of-pocket cash.
5. Sync Up with Your Embassy
It’s a good idea not only to know the location of your embassy, but to enroll with your embassy, if possible, so that they know where you are in the event of an emergency. The U.S. Department of State offers the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program for this purpose.