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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cece's Advice #1: Double Check If Ticket Machines Take Bills

Throughout my trip I ended up having multiple moments of stress which I feel could have been avoided if I had known a few simple things beforehand. Therefore, I've created a list of advice for other travelers to read and maybe use if they travel abroad.

Cece's Advice #1: Double Check If Ticket Machines Take Bills

When I first arrived in Paris I had to make the decision of A) getting cash from the ATM, then purchasing my train ticket or B) charging the ticket to my debit card, therefore incurring only one ATM withdrawl fee either way. I chose option A so that in case I couldn't find a BNP Paribas (where Bank of America doesn't charge fees) near my hostel I would still have some cash on hand. So I withdraw cash from the ATM and make my way over to the ticket machine. As I select the train ticket and it asks for money I see that the machine only accepts coins. I swear under my breath, "God damn it" before thinking 'I don't have coins. What the hell??' There are a number of different machines in the ticket area and I see some are actually change machines. 'Wooo. Maybe this isn't as bad as I thought.' But it is. ALL of the machines are Out of Order. Another round of light swearing... So I go back to the machine and charge the ticket to my card. Grrrrr.

It turns out that Bank of America only charged me the 3% and not the $5+3% for the train ticket purchase, but at the time I didn't know that so it put a slight damper on my first morning in Paris. It also caused me to waste a bunch of time at the ticket machines just as my second incident with ticket machines did. After figuring out that the Velib bike system in Paris was not going to work, I decide to get a book of 10 Metro tickets. I go to pay yet there is no bill slot. Of course there isn't a bill slot...why would you want to pay for 11.60Euros in with a 10Euro bill+change? Grrrrr... Luckily, the Paris Metro sells tickets at the windows and I was able to purchase the book of 10 there, but the machine not taking bills wasted about 5 -7 min of my life. I know you're thinking "It's only 5 min" but it feels a lot longer in the moment, and all the frustration the ordeal created made it a lot worse. Had I known about the machines not accepting cash, things would have gone that much smoother.

So in conclusion...double check if ticket machines, especially in France, accept bills. It might save you 5 minutes, it might save you 15 or 20 (depending on if you have to stand in line for a window). Either way it will certainly help you have a smoother, stress free trip!

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