Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
You may want to ask this question in the Long Distance Hiking forum instead. We can move it for you if you like-just post that request here. Also, try sites like WhiteBlaze or some of the other long distance trail websites that have similar forums.
Don't get me started, you know how I get.
When thru-hiking, a debit/credit card is VERY helpful. It's still my preferred method of paying my way. HOWEVER, on the Appalachian Trail, you'll occasionally encounter a small store or hostel which cannot process cards.
For this reason, I generally try to carry $40-80 cash on me as well as 2 or 3 checks. (Yes, that's right, I've encountered a number of places which aren't equipped to process plastic but will accept personal checks - both on the AT and on the Colorado Trail last summer as well.)
It pays to research the trail you have in mind. The AT in the south is a good place for cash or check. Many of the hostels don't take plastic. It appears that the John Muir Trail is another good spot for such - it appears Muir Trail Ranch (where I intend to resupply with a pre-paid mail drop) doesn't take plastic.
Loc: Santa Cruz CA, Sierra Hiker
There was this time...we were hiking the JMT. Had a bit of cash, figured we didn't need plastic so didn't bring it. Several hrs into day one suddenly I hear my husband stop walking behind me. I stop and look at him and I think he's having a stroke due the blank look on his face. We forgot the shelter he says. No probs say I ..we'll hitch into town 1st resupply and get something. We make 5 days into 3 easily, hitch into town and attempt to call daughter who has plastic at home. No ans home or work, phone company won't do collect calls on cells! Finally we do a collect call to someone else we know who authorizes a 3 way conference and we get my daughter who calls the store we are enr to and we get shelter. Morale of the story, besides making a list and checking it twice....bring cash and plastic!:) Dee
tho i haven't had the experience of need while hiking, i do carry cash ($40) and my credit card # written down in my journal. i figure i don't need to carry the actual plastic card. anyone have a problem with just giving your #?
i have had a problem while car traveling- places that don't take plastic. where i live you can buy anything with plastic, and my life has been simplified by using plastic rather than cash. that habit got me into trouble in rural areas where the store/gas station does not take plastic. therefore, if i'm traveling into a rural area, and i know i'll need to buy something (food, gas, etc) i take what i think i'll need plus an extra couple hundred. now, that's a wad i wouldn't want to have to carry backpacking!
what about traveler's checks? any problem using them?