It is an uncertain time in Greece right now. But should you cancel that nice summer vacation you’ve been waiting all year long?
Here’s my short answer: NO.
I spent 11 days in Greece at the height of the country’s financial crisis in 2015.
Here’s what I read and heard before my July-August trip: Protests. Banks closed down. Panic. Greece likely to default on its debts. Greece may exit the European Union.
But throughout my times in Greece, I kept on wondering…
“Where is the financial crisis???”
Really, if you haven’t been following news about the Greece debt crisis, you wouldn’t even notice that there’s a problem. The Greeks are friendly, the shops are operating as per normal, the cities remain peaceful and the islands as beautiful as ever.
We never felt unsafe or threatened. Not a penny was stolen from us. There were no signs of a civil unrest about to break. Okay, one time a lady at Plaka tried to do the ‘flower scam’ on us—but that’s not something you wouldn’t encounter in Paris or London either.
Money is not a problem. Greek banks have allotted maximum withdrawal of 60 Euros per day for Greek bankcards, but foreigners aren’t held to the same restrictions. What about the long queues in front of ATM machines you heard in the news? The most I saw was a queue of, like, 7 people at the island of Paros.
Bring extra euros just in case. If you’re really worried that your credit cards may be rejected and ATMs may be drained empty, having plenty of liquid cash at hand will certainly solve your problem. Just be discreet and don’t draw any unwanted attention on it.
Even if Greece lost the euros and return to drachmas, it won’t happen overnight. Your euros are likely to still be accepted during the transition. A currency as strong as euro would be preferred by most businesses, in any country, during economic uncertainty. Chances are… your euros will hold higher values than whatever currency they are putting into action. That could only mean one thing: cheaper holiday.
Review your travel insurance. Before going to Greece, make sure if anything bad does happen, you are covered under their policies.
Continue to monitor the news. Things may change in the future and you don’t want to catch yourself in an ugly situation. Stay alert in case the situation escalates. Avoid areas where strikes or protests could happen.
It would be ignorant to dismiss the impact of the financial crisis on the locals. It is a difficult time, but the Greeks are civilized, peaceful and hospitable people.
The Greek economy thrives on tourism, and the much-needed injection of your cash streams into their economy is the country’s best shot for recovery. Go there on a holiday, spend your money on local businesses and don’t forget to have lots of fun. As long as you exercise common sense and standard safety measures, there’s no reason to feel fearful.
What’s your take on the subject? Share your Greece experience with us.