European Travel Tips
By Kent St. John
GoNOMAD TRAVEL EDITOR
A European adventure is many travelers first overseas adventure.
The chance to explore so many different cultures and world-class sites
within easy reach of one another greatly justifies that choice. However,
with that choice comes higher prices, and bigger crowds, and planning
is necessary. Here are some tips that will help you visit Europe more
cheaply and with fewer tourist headaches.
CROSSING THE POND CHEAPLY
Peak summer season travel means peak airline ticket prices. If possible,
try to schedule your European trip to the shoulder or off-season. Departing
in May or September can save big dollars on airfare. If you are traveling
during the summer, look at alternative ticketing. The goal is to cut between
20%- 30% off the regular airline fares. This is the time to check out consolidators,
discounters, and charter tickets. Some of my favorites European ticket websites
are Tiss.com and
The city you fly into can be a big factor in finding a low cost ticket. Try the larger cities also favorite consolidator destinations -- such as:
POINT TO POINT
Europes small size and well-developed transportation make it easy for even short-term visitors to get around vast distances. A lot depends on the time you plan to spend in each location. For example, if you are staying in one city for a period, do not buy a daily metro or tram ticket: buy a 2, 3 or 7-day pass.
Train travel in Europe is one of the best ways to get around. But no matter if you are using a Eurail pass or taking a single train trip, there are some things about train travel in Europe you ought to know.
- Many cities in Europe have more than one station; for example Paris has six mainline stations. Make sure you know what station serves your destination.
- European trains run on military time -- the twenty-four hour clock. Try to become familiar with the times.
- Reservations may cost a few dollars more, but can be well worth the cost, especially during holidays. Making an outbound reservation when arriving to a city is also a good idea.
- Reservations are also needed for couchettes (sleeping bunks). Most night trains leave in the evening and arrange to arrive the next morning, regardless of the distance.
- Most high-speed trains will require a reservation and -- even with a train pass -- an added fee.
- Sometimes trains are split up and going to different destinations. Make sure you are on the right car. This is especially common during night travel.
GOING MY WAY
All through Europe there are services that hook up travelers with drivers. This is a great way to meet some of the locals and see the countryside. Inquire about ride-sharing services at tourist offices and hostels.
Ride-sharing services numbers:
- Paris- Allostop 42-26-0066
- Amsterdam -- International Lift Center 020-622-4342
- Vienna -- Mitzfahrzentrale 0222-587-4225
- Zurich -- Mitzfahrzentrale 261-6893
Many cities have branch offices.
NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP
One of the biggest joys of traveling Europe is the variety of accommodations. There are however some basic rules that can help you make the right choice, be it hostel, pension, or a charming two star hotel.
- Always ask to see the room you will be renting. The owners or staff may not show you the cheapest room first unless you ask. If it isnt right, work your way up.
- Always ask the total cost, with tax and any extras like breakfast.
- Take a moment and monitor fellow guest if possible. This is a great way to judge a property. Asking a guest about their stay will also speak volumes.
- In many places in Europe there is a discount if you stay more than three nights. Ask.
- Railroad station locales often have the largest concentration of hotels, though they may be noisy.
- In many cities, the later you arrive the least likely you will find that perfect room. Try to arrive early.
- If all else fails, go to the local tourist office. Tourism Offices not only have access to hotels you might not know about, but they can also find you a room in an otherwise sold-out property or city. You may spend a little extra for the convenience of having them do the legwork, but it will give you more time to actually enjoy the city.
As in all travel, your attitude will make the difference between a good trip and a great trip. There is nowhere else quite like Europe; where a bad day can turn so dramatically into a great night. If your room isnt that great
remember that nearby are great art, food, wine, and experiences.
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