Traveling around Europe can be crazy and chaotic, but with a little planning and some great travel tips, you can enjoy yourself and avoid extra hassles and costs!
Flying within Europe is cheaper than flying within the US. There are several low-cost airlines that fly from Europe’s capitals as low as €75! (about $108). Some airlines fly to smaller cities, (ie: Bratislava, Slovakia) where you can take an airline bus to the nearby, larger city (ie:Vienna, Austria). These can cost as little as €20 (about $20). The way to get these great deals is to make sure you plan ahead. If you plan at the last minute, theses airlines could get expensive!
The next best thing to flying within Europe is taking the train. It’s efficient, fast, easy on your wallet and a great way to see the deepest corners of the country. I suggest reserving a seat if you will be taking a long-distance train ride, as there is nothing worse than standing in the middle of an aisle for 4 hours. You can always book at the last minute with trains, too, because prices normally do not change. However, last minute booking makes it hard to reserve a seat. One of the best deals is the Eurail, offering travel in five countries for as low as €268 (about $380). The Eurostar is another alternate when traveling to or from the UK and France and has lines in other countries, as well. Keep in mind, though, that booking last minute Eurostar tickets can get as expensive as flying, so remember to book in advance!
There is no special website to search for good hotel deals in Europe. I would advise that you find one located in the center of the city to avoid taxis fares. This also allows you to sight see as you walk to and from your hotel, rather than spending your time using public transportation. It’s good to keep in mind that some older hotels still have shared bathrooms, so remember to read carefully or ask about this when booking and I would suggest you get your own bathroom. If you are backpacking, consider staying in hostels to save money.
Please use public transportation to your best advantage. I am a huge advocate of public transportation, because it not only gets you to your destination, but it’s also cheap. Europe has one of the best public transportation systems, so take advantage of it. Most of the stops have guards, especially at night, for your protection and most cities offer a day-pass or something similar. It is important to remember that after a certain hour, most public transportation stops and only a few buses drive along the main routes after this time. Make sure to remember the time when you’re out and about!
Always use taxis that are licensed and make sure they have meters. Some eastern European taxis do not have them and some hesitate to use them, if they do. I advise you to ask them, even repeatedly, to turn them on. Taxis are usually not that expensive, but it does depend on the distance and time of day/night.
The majority of Europe uses the Euro (€), but some countries still use their own currency. Most countries accept local money and the Euro. Check the banks for the currency rate between the EURO and the Dollar or go to www.xe.com for the latest rate.
Keep in mind that in a foreign country the food is going to be different and it may settle on your stomach differently than it will with the locals. This is normal! For less expensive places to eat, avoid restaurants around major tourist attractions. Those places usually bump up their prices just because of their location. Most restaurants have a menu in their local language and English and, sometimes, in other languages, too. Don’t be afraid to ask the waiter/waitress for one in a different language. Sometimes it’s fun to go to “authentic” restaurants. For instance, in Munich, Germany you have the famous Hofbräuhaus. It’s always packed and at times you may have to share the table with total strangers; enjoy some fun Bavarian music, clinging your maß (1 liter beer, which is about 34fl oz) and making great memories.
Traveling can be fun and it can be stressful, but you can always avoid the latter part by taking a little extra time to plan!