Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Headed over the Atlantic for the summer? Some ideas for your European gallivanting.....


Plans for Europe this summer? Congratulations! My roomate is heading to France, Turkey, and Poland (lucky girl!) and I was putting together some ideas that might help her plan her trip....thought I'd share - I found them really helpful!

Here are a few websites to keep in your back pocket:

  • Kayak.com - This is a great website that gives you the pricing for several discount travel providers and regular airlines. It doesn't give you the pricing for Expedia.com, which I'd also check out.
  • Venere.com – For booking hotels - With this, you pay in person when you check out of the hotel. They take your credit card number online to reserve the room , and you pay when you check out. This was always easier, especially if my plans weren't confirmed.
  • Tripadvisor.com - Once I find a hotel on venere.com that I like, I like to look here for comments, travelers' ratings and more photos. They tell the truth!\
  • Studentuniverse.com – GREAT for university/college students who are travelling

Also, check craigslist.com in case you’ll be in a place for more than 3 or 4 days – it might be worth exploring to see if there’s an open apartment that someone is renting out. I did this twice in Italy , and it was SO much cheaper.

And I’d really encourage you to build a profile on http://www.couchsurfing.com/. Even if you don’t need a couch to surf, check it out, as there are always postings of what is going on in a city; plus, you can do searches and find someone in the city to show you around. That was ALWAYS such a great experience. When I went to Munich, I made arrangements to meet with 4-5 people a day!!! First, I’d have breakfast with someone, visit a museum with someone else, take a walking tour, go to a beer garden, do lunch, enjoy a soccer match – all with friendly European couch surfers – it was great!!!

You probably already know, but just a few pointers to really drive home:

  1. BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE!!!! Remeber the ash? It's still there. Also, for your transatlantic flight, check out the airline's policy for covering flights that the airline has to cancel.
  2. Pack light, light, light!!!! European airlines have lesser weight standards for baggage, and they charge way more if your bags are over the limit.
  3. Everything’s more expensive – just be prepared for sticker shock.
  4. Look around for some concerts now – all the best artists are on tour during the summer! I was close to getting tix for an Erykah Badu concert in Paris . It was a soldout show, so we caught the International Jazz Festival there instead :)
  5. No need for heels – Paris was ok, but other European cities with their historic cobblestone and fancy stonescapes can (and will) kill your shoes.
  6. Don’t buy the Eurorail Pass. It’s a rip off. You’ll do SOOOOOOO much better with just getting a regular train ticket like the rest of the European population.
  7. Take the train instead of flying if you can. It always puts you in the center of the city.
  8. If you take Ryanair, just know that most of the airports that they use are way outside of the city (and you can’t pack ANYTHING bigger than a backpack).

That’s all I can think of for now - be sure that you take great pics! Will look forward to your traveling posts soon!

ciao for now!
a

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