Should you still travel to Greece?

It’s rare that backpackers need to worry too much about foreign economies, but if you have a trip to Greece booked for coming months you might be feeling uncertain about whether or not you should go. We’ve bit together some advice to help make that decision easier.

Please note: the situation in Greece is changing all the time. This information is correct at time of writing.

So what’s going on?

Due to severe economic problems there is a chance that Greece will leave the eurozone. The current situation means banks are currently closed and Greek nationals have strict limits on their finances. There is a lot of uncertainty, and the situation is changing all the time.

Can you cancel your trip?

Unfortunately airlines and tour operators have no obligation to offer a refund if you decide not to travel to Greece. If you cancel, you will lose whatever amount you have already paid, whether that’s just a deposit or the full amount.

If the Foreign Office issues ‘do not travel’ advice you may be able to cancel your trip and reclaim your money.

Check with your airline or tour operator to be sure.

Could you lose your money?

If you’ve booked a package holiday or tour you’ll be ATOL protected, which means you won’t lose your money or be stranded abroad if your operator goes out of business.

If you’re travelling independently – booking your own flights, accommodation, etc. – you will not be protected by ATOL. Your credit or debit card company may protect you against some of the loss, and travel insurance can also provide partial cover in this situation.

Are ATMs still working?

The accessibility of cash machines in Greece is very unreliable. Withdrawal limits set by the government only apply to bank cards issues by Greek banks, but there are reports of many ATMs running out of cash completely.

It’s recommended that you take enough cash to cover your stay, including a little extra in case of emergency.

Are credit and debit cards being accepted?

Cards should still work as normal, but some smaller places might insist that you pay with cash. You need to be prepared for the possibility that banking services could become limited or unreliable at short notice.

If Greece does leave the euro the switch to a new currency will not be instant. Card companies should be prepared to adapt quickly to any change, but there might be short-term issues.

What if you get robbed?

If you are concerned about carrying extra cash, make sure you don’t carry more than your insurance policy covers. Different policies will cover you for different amounts.