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How do you travel with money on the Camino?

2020 Camino Guides

marclynnette

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May (2013)
I have yet to see any posts about how people keep track of their funds on the Camino. Does everyone carry 3000 euros on them? I assume the hostels don't take VISA? What are the safest ways to do this? What tips do you have for people carrying all that money with them? Do you ever leave your bag alone in a hostel? Is it safe? :?:
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
Hola,
We put most of our money onto a cash card. It works like a debit card but is not linked to our bank account. For us in the UK loading the card with euros was free. There was a 2euro charge for each withdrawal from a cash machine, which we minimised by always drawing the maiximum daily amount. We could check online for the balance if we wanted to, but most of the time we just recorded our withdrawals plus 2euros as a running total. Our daily limit was 250euros.
We also carried a credit card for places where it was accepted. We informed our card provider of our travel plans and also that we would be using the card for accomodation/travel/ but no white goods etc..
We took enough cash (in euros) to give us about 3 -4 days money and withdrew money from machines before we really needed it. We preferred not to use the card in cafes etc as a debit card as that could make it difficult to know what we had spent, but it can be done; fee free.
Cards and cash, apart from sufficient for that day were kept in a secure money pouch with our passports, and never left anywhere.
Hope that helps,
Buen Camino
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
LePuy, Frances, Aragones, Ingles, Vezelay, Toulosana, Muxia, Fisterra, Portugues, Sanabres
Do you ever leave your bag alone in a hostel?
Not with anything of value in it!!

ATMs generally will only give you 300 Euro per day, enough for about 8 days for me. There are plenty of ATMs along the way to withdraw additional funds.

Be sure you have a 4-digit PIN. If your PIN is longer, you will not be able to get money in Spain anyway, anyhow. Even your debit card and your passport will not help you at a bank. No PIN, no money.

Cards with chips in them may be a different matter. I don't have one of those. I did have to float a loan to a companion because he had a six-digit PIN, and we tried everywhere to get money. You cannot!!
 

jirit

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2007,
Via Francigena Italy, 2008,
Jakobsweg Austria 2010,
Camino Frances 2011,
Le Puy to Lourdes 2012,
Via de la Plata 2013,
Future:
Ökumenischer (Via Regia), Germany,
Lycian Way, Turkey
Hello marclynnette

I normally take a debit card and 2 credit cards. However I pay for almost everything in cash. The only items I pay for with VISA are train tickets and the like.

Use the debit to withdraw cash as needed. Plan ahead since not all villages have a suitable ATM machine. Ensure that your home bank knows that you are traveling in Spain and ask them to raise your daily and weekly withdrawal limits to say 1,000 and 3,000 dollars respectively. This means you should be able to withdraw from the ATM machine 500 euros each time and probably up to 1,500 euros for the week. The latter weekly limit would only be needed in case of an emergency, since 500 euros per week for one person is more than enough.

Even though your home bank may set you up for the higher withdrawal limits, not all local Spanish banks will let you take this much out - the average normal limit is about 200-300 euros. However my experience is that if I use a large European international bank in Spain I normally have no issue taking out the higher amount of 500 euros.

You normally find the larger international banks in the larger urban cities, hence the need to plan ahead.

In all cases carry this money and any other important documents in a money belt and keep this with you at all times

I carry a small collapsable day pack and carry important hard to replace items in this when I leave the hostel
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
I also carried a small USB key with copies of my passport, driving licence, airline ticket reference numbers, medical prescription and any other documents as necessary. This was in my possession at all times. I wouldnt advise carrying large ammounts of cash, €300 is more than enough. I didn't keep track of spending, you are going to spend what you spend, support the locals and tip well.
Buen camino.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Be sure to keep your moneybelt with you when you are not wearing it; take it into the shower in a zip-lock plastic bag and put it in your sleeping bag at night. Always carry some Euros in small denominations; breaking a 50 Euro bill in a remote village can be impossible. However gas stations will often make change even if you do not buy gas!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I opened an online bank account at Charles Schwab and I LOVE IT!

It allows me to withdraw 500 dollars each day and there are NO ATM FEES

Once a month, I get a refund of ALL fees, even those in Europe.

I do have to mail my deposits in, but I have checks and they provide free postage envelopes to make deposits.

I am VERY happy with this account.

Also, the exchange rate they give on dollars/euros is excellent, MUCH better than Bank of America was giving me!!! I believe it is the actual exchange rate of the day.

The last thing I love about them is that when I call for any problems at all I get a real live human being to talk to and they are actually helpful.

I love it love it LOVE it!
 

hotelmedicis

Commercial Interests
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2001 (+more)
VDLP 2013, 2018
3000 euros?

Just go to any Spanish bank and open a non-resident bank account. This is very easy. Anyone can do it with a passport, etc. Put all your money in your account and they give you a card. Off you go.

See this link and scroll down for lots of good information about opening a bank account in Spain as a non-resident.

http://www.exploreseville.com/living.htm#3
 

eku_79

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
aug/sept 2013
Hola,

since I'm going to walk Camino for the first time (from Astorga), I was wondering about paying systems in Spain.
I understand that paying for the nights in the albergues you must need cash. And also ppl suggest to have some coins for the drinks machines and such. BUT is there any chance to pay with credit cards as well? I have EC/MC and Amex (the last one won't work that much probably).
Most ppl are talking about withdrawing money from the ATM but I would like to avoid itas much as possible, cos it costs extra money for me.
Just I've got used to have no cash and pay only with my cards (very convenient and secure), how is it on the Camino way?
Thanks in advance!
 

Packinglight

Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2014)
July-August 2019, Pamplona-Santiago
I haven't walked the camino yet, (will be in summer 2014) but I have lived in Europe for 6 years this round (lived in Britain in the early 90s too) and I can echo the need for small bills/Euro coins,4-digit PINs, and cash.

When traveling outside of the Euro zone, I write up a mini index card as a cheat-sheet for conversions. If I am in Hungary, for example, I have one side of the card listing 1,2,5,7,10,12,15,20,25 Euros (my currency) and what that converts to in Forints. The flip side of the card has Forint to Euro conversions. One glance at my little pocket card and I know roughly what my dinner is costing me.
For those using the Euro for the first time I recommend doing the same with your own currency.
And, for the sweet love of God, please don't try to use US dollars in Europe! My adopted city gets a lot of US visitors and it's amazing how many think they can use their money in another country. Imagine a Japanese person walking into a 7-11 in Texas and being upset the store won't accept his yen lol!!

When I was making frequent trips to Europe before moving here, I always wore a money belt. Mine is a thin cotton one. Since I run hot at the best of times, I can get a soggy passport even on normal plane/train travel. The best thing for sweaty-money syndrome is keeping everything sealed in a ziplock inside the money belt.
Also, I keep the belt contents at the small of my back. I don't have the flattest of tummies and it can be obvious under clothes when worn in front.
I NEVER go into it during the day: money from an ATM goes in my bag or pocket until the nearest toilet. I only look at my cash/cards inside a toilet stall or in a private room at night. Cash for that day only goes into a wallet/coin purse in a deep, ideally zippered pocket.
I have seen tourists pulling out their money belts on the street, at ATMs, at restaurant tables. Stupid. Why wear one, if it's being used as a wallet? Then use a normal wallet and at least seem local.
I don't have camino experience yet, but I do have plenty of travel experience.
I've been traveling alone (female) since my late teens, in the 80s, and I prefer to be efficient, relaxed and confident than marked as an easy prey.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 1917, Camino Portugues 2020
I have yet to see any posts about how people keep track of their funds on the Camino. Does everyone carry 3000 euros on them? I assume the hostels don't take VISA? What are the safest ways to do this? What tips do you have for people carrying all that money with them? Do you ever leave your bag alone in a hostel? Is it safe? :?:
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 1917, Camino Portugues 2020
I usually carry 100 euros per day on the Camino. This is carried as follows assuming a 60 day Camino or a total of 6000 euros. I carry 3000 euros concealed and sewn into a "secret" place in my back pack. I also have a leg pouch which straps around the calf with two straps and Velcro. This holds one credit card, an ATM card, and 2000 euros. In an neck pouch carried under clothing, I carry my passport and 1000 euros and a second credit card. In a wallet carried in a zippered pants pocket I carry money for several days. I spend down the wallet money first, and replenish from the neck wallet, and eventually the leg pouch. Except for the back pack stash, I am never separated from the neck wallet or the billfold. Works for me. The billfold is a "give away".
 

Roland49

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2019 July
I have yet to see any posts about how people keep track of their funds on the Camino. Does everyone carry 3000 euros on them?
Nope! I took 250€ on the plane to Biarritz and that lasts up to Logroño, maybe I could have walked to Burgos with the remaining cash. In Logroño I walked to the nearest ATM and withdrew another 150€. That got me to Leon, where I filled up with 200€ again. That lasts until Santiago de Compostela.

I assume the hostels don't take VISA? What are the safest ways to do this? What tips do you have for people carrying all that money with them? Do you ever leave your bag alone in a hostel? Is it safe? :?:
Very few take VISA or Master. I had a Debitcard and a Mastercard with me. Never used the Mastercard. The Debitcard was just fine. It's a bit tricky, because you have to be aware that there will be surcharges to the drawn money depending on your bank.
I took all valuables (money, cards, camera, mobile) with me (in waistpack) and left only my backpack with my clothes and travelgear in the hostels. In the 27 days on my Camino I didn't hear from any theft. It is quite safe.+

Even if you are travelling more luxurious than me, I would withdraw no more then 500€ at once, mostly in small notes that I would split up to different pockets.

Hope you will have fun planning and on your Camino!
 

Donjek

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012 SJPdP - Fisterra
I used a debit card at ATMs and withdrew the maximum in order to keep fees low.

Check with your bank to make sure your card will be compatible.

Albergues operate on a cash only and will have problems dealing with large denominations.

There are stretches where there are no ATMs available for several days of walking.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, May-June (2017)
Ingles, June (2019
Leon-Sarria, June (2019)
Le Puy-Santiago (2023)
It seems that all the access to cash questions have been answered, I personally carry 2 cash cards and 2 credit cards, I like redundancy. As far as leaving things in an albergue, I have one bag, my “go bag” that is always with me. It contains the things of value or difficult to replace, mobile, money, cards (when they are not on my person), etc. I use a very lightweight day pack. I may leave my backpack but my go bag never stays behind, even in the shower.
 

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
On the CF I tended to leave everything on my bed or in my bag when I went for a shower, for added security I would hide it under my pillow. I took the view that most pilgrims have a phone, passport and some money so don't need mine. If truth be told, a banana left in plain sight is more likely to vanish because someone is hungry waiting for supper than any material goods. If someone did steal all my stuff I can always get some more.
 

SabineP

Camino = Empathy + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
On the CF I tended to leave everything on my bed or in my bag when I went for a shower, for added security I would hide it under my pillow. I took the view that most pilgrims have a phone, passport and some money so don't need mine. If truth be told, a banana left in plain sight is more likely to vanish because someone is hungry waiting for supper than any material goods. If someone did steal all my stuff I can always get some more.

I do applaud your faith in mankind and fellow pilgrims but personally I would not advice future pilgrims to do the same.
First of all a Camino is no parallel universe. Bad people do bad things. Pilgrims included. But also people with bad intentions who take advantage of the moment and enter albergues to steal valuables.
Secondly , not every pilgrim is able to get some more stuff when things are stolen from them. Lots of pilgrims are on a tight budget and it would break my heart to see they have stop because of no funds.

So, yes take your valuables with you all the time. Only exception I made was once I travelled with a friend and we took care of each others belongings
 
Last edited:
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I use an ATM card.
I never carry more than €200-€300 at a time.
I don't take Euros with me from the USA. I just use the ATM at the airport when I arrive.
I use Charles Schwab so all of my fees are returned at the end of each month.
 

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
I do applaud your faith in mankind and fellow pilgrims but personally I would not advice future pilgrims to do the same.
First of all a Camino is no parallel universe. Bad people do bad things. Pilgrims included. But also people with bad intentions who take advantage of the moment and enter albergues to steal valuables.
Secondly , not every pilgrim is able to get some more stuff when things are stolen from them. Lots of pilgrims are on a tight budget and it would break my heart to see they have stop because of no funds.

So, yes take your valuables with you all the time. Only exception I made was once I travelled with a friend and we took care of each others belongings
I live my whole life with this level of trust, I never lock my backdoor in case I need it as an emergency exit. At home in the UK I never carry cash, every transaction is done on my phone, if someone gives me paper money I just keep it in my wallet until I give it away. Using cash on the Camino was my biggest problem because I was not used to it. I am closer to 60 than 50 yet my kids think I am living dangerously close to technology.
 

Donjek

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012 SJPdP - Fisterra
I use an ATM card.
I never carry more than €200-€300 at a time.
I don't take Euros with me from the USA. I just use the ATM at the airport when I arrive.
I use Charles Schwab so all of my fees are returned at the end of each month.
I would recommend obtaining at least €100 prior to date of travel, particularly if your connections timings are short. I have arrived at airports to find the ATM's inoperable or long lines of people waiting to use the only one that is working. The money exchange kiosks are very expensive. €100 will get you onto local transit and as far as the next ATM locations.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I would recommend obtaining at least €100 prior to date of travel, particularly if your connections timings are short. I have arrived at airports to find the ATM's inoperable or long lines of people waiting to use the only one that is working. The money exchange kiosks are very expensive. €100 will get you onto local transit and as far as the next ATM locations.
You can take a few Euros if you wish, but I've been flying to Europe since the 1970's and/or walking the Camino since 2006 and so far, have never had an issue. There is no exchange rate using Schwab, who reimburses all fees at the end of the month.
 

DeansFamily

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 18/916/10/17 Muxia/Finisterre 18/10-22/10/17 Norte 21/4-29/5/18 Primitive 20/9-5/10/18 VdlP
Get a good “anti skimming” money belt and wear it all the time except for showering where it will be in a zip lock bag in the cubicle with you. We wear our to bed where it feels really dodgy, or secured in your sleeping bag / liner mid way as we have met people who have had their stolen out of the foot of their bag as they slept (Norte last October). We carry 300€ and withdraw it at reputable banks during working hours so we can retrieve our card if something goes wrong and the ATM eats our card. Any amount lower isn’t worth the A$20 bank fee. Our credit card is used at supermarkets and other POS businesses. Do not EVER leave anything valuable to you at albergues. I have seen so many items stolen on various routes, even flip flops and walking shoes. Don’t stress but don’t be complacent either, as there are thieves passing off as pilgrims haunting the main Caminos.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
I have yet to see any posts about how people keep track of their funds on the Camino. Does everyone carry 3000 euros on them? I assume the hostels don't take VISA? What are the safest ways to do this? What tips do you have for people carrying all that money with them? Do you ever leave your bag alone in a hostel? Is it safe? :?:
Hey! I had a 'day wallet' that i carried a couple of cards and a small amount of cash in. I then had a waterproof bag that I kept my passports, remaining cash, etc. in. These both stayed with me at all times. I elaborate on this page of my packing list as to exactly what I used.
 

Kevin Jackson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2020)
First timer here, what do you do as far as having small bills on hand after visiting the ATM? Are albergues and other places willing to make change for big bills? At least here in the States, if I go to an ATM and pull out say $400, it will give it to me all in $50 increments.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
It can be an issue from time to time, many ATM’s will give the option of asking for 20’s. It is always advisable to use the ATM when the bank is open in case the machine “eats” you card, so you ca. walk inside and ask for smaller bills. Having a pocket full of coins is always a good idea too.
 

november_moon

Veteran Member
Places will make change for large bills if they have it - they don't always have it though, or may balk at having to use up a lot of their small money to make change for a small purchase.

My approach is to specify an odd amount from the ATM (like 230 euros, as mentioned) so I am sure to at least get a couple smaller bills immediately. Some ATMs will ask you if you want larger bills or smaller ones, which is nice. Then, I look for opportunities to use my large bills - a busy cafe that I know is likely to have change, at a supermercado, when I am spending more than say 20 or 25 euro so breaking a large bill doesn't take much change. Larger alberques are likely to have change too if they've already checked in a bunch of people - small ones, maybe or maybe not.
 

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