I am heading down the road toward vacation, the windows open, warm summer air filling the car, the radio fueling the relaxed mood and E-ZPass® paying the first electronic transaction of the trip. The cashless vacation has begun!
First let me rewind…before departing for this trip and in my last blog post, I challenged myself to a sensible cashless vacation. Was it possible to travel to the Adirondacks and back without having to use cash?
The planning included how to manage my traveling finances. Since this was a domestic trip and cards would be widely accepted and ATMs common, it would make it easy to rely on these two options. Paying with a card is secure and allows me to track spending through Internet Banker.
As the trip moved into Lake George, spotty cell phone and wi-fi coverage forced me to track my debit card transactions the old fashion way– with a pen and the checkbook ledger — rather than online.
In the bustling town of Lake George, restaurants and hotels were more than happy to accept a card as payment. Even a spontaneous kayak rental on a quieter section of the lake, far from anything that seemed to be able to process a card, was able to accept my debit card as payment right on their dock.
Moving from Lake George, north and west through Saranac Lake, a lunch stop at a mom and pop deli and a glorified roadside farmers market all accepted debit and credit cards, no problem. The cashless vacation was proving to be a success. But, past Saranac the towns became thinner as the forest grew denser. Once in Tupper Lake, cell phone coverage was totally gone, and looking out from the road it was a spread of trees woven with tributaries from the vast lakes.
Approaching the campsite and the last leg of my vacation, I had to pay in cash for the remote location where I wanted to camp. At this point the cashless vacation ended and a new adventure down the path to the campsite began.
As I sat around the fire that night, I thought about my trip thus far. A cashless vacation is really possible. And it took me really far. You might have already known this, but I just wanted to prove it to myself. Not to say that cash doesn’t have a place. Over the last week, splitting bills with friends, tipping service industry employees, good ol’ coin parking meters and ferry crossings still rely on cash. But, that’s the great thing about so many spending choices; you can use whatever one takes you down the path you choose to travel.