We’re getting ready to take a trip to Italy this summer (which I’m very excited about) but since it’s been a very long time since I was in Europe, and I’ve never been to Italy, I’ve been a little stumped on some of the travel preparations.

I’ve got the basics covered (passports, plane & train tickets, apartments rented, dog kennel reserved) but that’s about it. What’s tripping me up is the money thing. How much will I need to bring, and in what form? Should I bring travelers checks in Euros? Should I just plain bring Euros? Should I stick with the Capital One credit card I got, since there are no currency conversion fees? Should I just use ATMs there and withdraw money from my checking account? Or maybe do a combination of all of the above? I just don’t know, and I need to make up my mind quickly so that I can get things in motion.

I’ve heard (from a co-worker who was just in Italy) that they have a very cash-based society. Both of the apartments we’ve reserved have specified that we must pay in cash, so I’m inclined to believe this. For someone who doesn’t usually even have an entire dollar on me, that idea is a little nerve-wracking, especially since I’ve also heard many comments about pick-pockets. I’m trying to keep some perspective though: after all, when I went to Manhattan I also received many of the same warnings from people that lived there, and I had no problems.

If you’ve been to Europe recently (or Italy especially), how did you handle the spending money aspect?