Because your money will be originating from a U.S. bank that may charge service fees with each transaction, most U.S. citizens find it less expensive to use cash for daily use. Even in Western Europe, businesses often prefer that you pay in cash. For this reason, many travelers choose to withdraw larger amounts of local currency less frequently from a local ATM, rather than depending on cards for regular use.
Before leaving the US, exchange a small amount of money in your host country’s currency for use your first few days abroad. Contact your bank in advance, as they may need to special order a currency for you. Wait to obtain the bulk of your foreign currency until you arrive in the country. Be careful where you exchange your funds abroad; use banks whenever possible, especially banks in partnership with your home institution (to get the best rate).