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Skiathos island in Greece. View of Plakes area.

What does the Greek debt crisis mean for your holiday plans?

You can’t get away from hearing or reading the media articles about the current financial situation in Greece. This may be leaving you feeling confused as to how it may affect you if you are travelling to Greece this summer.

Some of your questions may be; Can I get cash from an ATM? What about using my credit card? Will the Greek banks be open? What if I run out of money and don’t have a credit card? If I’m worried, can I cancel my trip?

Before you set out, it’s worth checking the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for their recent updates and advice on travelling to Greece this summer.

Here are some answers to your questions and a little bit more:

All Greek banks will be closed until at least close of business on 6th July 2015. The Greek government is limiting ATM withdrawals using cards issued by Greek banks to €60 per day. As a foreign traveller at this time, you can continue to withdraw up to your usual limit using a card issued outside Greece, as long as the ATM has been replenished and you are prepared to queue. But there may come a time when the Greek Finance Minister may set a withdrawal limit on foreign bank cards.

The system for paying with debit and credit cards for retail transactions continues to function but remember, not all small shops and restaurants may take credit and debit card payments. It’s best not to rely wholly on one method of payment. Although using a card may seem like a good bet, it’s always an idea to have some cash on you in case of emergency.

ABTA also suggest taking some cash in Euros as well as card payment methods so you’re covered for all situations. They also said, “Any changes would be highly unlikely to happen overnight, any switch to a new currency would take time and Euros would likely be accepted in the interim.”

To ensure you stay safe and your holiday funds secure when in Greece, we offer the following tips:
  • If your holiday funds are mainly cash Euro’s and more than you would normally take, split this on your person so that if the worst should happen not all funds will be gone. However, don’t ask someone else to carry your cash, if they lose it or it is stolen you may not be insured for it.
  • Take extra care at the airport when arriving in Greece and when travelling to your accommodation. This will be when you have the most cash on your person and therefore, pose’s the highest risk of loss or theft.
  • Always use a safety deposit box at the accommodation where you are staying to secure your holiday money. If one is not available, ask at reception if they have a safety deposit box you can use but if not, hide funds out of sight in a few different places in your locked accommodation and don’t allow anyone else into your room that shouldn’t have access to it.
  • Report any loss of theft of cash to the police immediately (within 24 hours) and obtain a full written police report, remember you will need this in the event of a claim. If you cannot report this to the police, ensure this is reported to another authority, such as hotel management if the loss or theft occurs where you are staying and get a written report from them as proof.
  • If you decide to take a day trip do not take large amounts of cash with you. Just make sure that you have enough money to cater for what you are doing that day.

Free Spirit will always suggest not to carry large amounts of cash on your person at any one time, but we appreciate that the current advice being issued by other sources to those travelling to Greece is quite the opposite, in that it is suggesting travellers should increase the amount of cash funds taken in the event that ATMs and banks cannot be used to withdraw money during a trip.

The FCO also advise that there are regular strikes. These are sometimes called at short notice and can cause disruption to public transport in and out of Greece (including air travel and ports). Demonstrations take place regularly in central Athens, and have also taken place in other towns and cities. You should avoid all demonstrations and follow the advice given by local security authorities. See Major pre-planned strikes and demonstrations

If you are thinking of cancelling your trip to Greece because of the financial problems you won’t be covered for cancellation. Bob Atkinson of the Travelsupermarket website says ‘It’s understandable to be worried, and although it might seem good grounds not to go, changing your mind won’t give you a get-out,’ Depending on what type of accommodation you’ve booked, how you paid for it and when you’re due to travel, it’s worth asking your Tour Operator if you are able to move the dates or travel destination.

If you fall ill when in Greece the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to free medical care equivalent to what locals can get. This should cover most medical emergencies — but don’t solely rely on it. Holidaymakers have been urged not to rely on their EHIC because Greece’s poor economy has left local hospitals running out of funds and unable to treat some foreigners. The uncertain state of the Greek public services could leave Britons at extra risk. So take extra precautions and buy a travel insurance policy.

Free Spirit will not only cover you and your travelling companions but also your medical conditions in the event of a medical emergency also your holiday money, passports and valuables will be protected just in case! Terms and condition apply of course with a policy cash limit per person of £200 (Super cover) and £300 (Super Duper cover)! Please note: For insured adults travelling to Greece between now and up to 30th September 2015 we have increased the cash limit to £400 (Super cover) and £600 (Super Duper cover).

It’s worth tooling yourself with as much useful information before you travel so that you can be prepared. Keep checking the FCO website when away for updates and if you have any concerns always speak to your Tour Operator or in the event of a claim your travel insurance claims department.

With a little advance planning there should be no reason for you not to have a wonderful Greek holiday.