Taking a trip to Europe is becoming increasingly popular in these days of low-cost air fares. Time it right, and you can get return flights super cheap, and once you’re there, the short hops between European cities can be equally cost effective.
Passports, visas and insurance
Getting those tickets at the right price demands plenty of advance planning. First and foremost, make sure you have passports for all travelers – if not, keep in mind that it can take up to six weeks to get one. If you are staying in the Schengen zone, you will not need a visa, but you should look to get covered with Schengen Visa Travel Insurance. Again, make sure this is in place well before you travel.
Booking your flights
If you are planning a multi-stop tour, those cheap, cheap flights you see advertised online will only be available if you book well in advance. It is always possible to get flights within Europe at short notice, but expect the prices to be considerably higher. Work out your schedule and get the flights, hotels and car hire booked early.
Consider a road trip
If military-style planning is really not your thing, there is an alternative. It is possible to see far more of the European countryside if you are traveling on four wheels instead of by air, and this also allows you to be more flexible in your planning. Driving from one country to another is simple within the European Union so if, for example, you collect a rental car in Paris, you can use it to visit Brussels, Amsterdam, or perhaps Geneva. Always double check with the hire firm that taking the car out of the country is OK, but nine times out of ten, this is no problem, provided you return it to its original place of origin.
Getting around the cities
While a car is ideal for long journeys, you will not want to be behind the wheel in the big cities. Fortunately, most have excellent public transportation infrastructures, including the Paris Metro, the London Underground and the fabulous trams in Brussels. If you go to Amsterdam, then do what the locals do and hire bicycles for the whole family – it really is the best way to get around!
These days, there is little point messing around with currency exchange before you go, as any European city will be geared up to accept your credit card and you can use a choice of ATMs. You should, however, contact your bank to let them know you will be overseas, as sudden unexpected transactions from the other side of the world can trigger anti-fraud measures and cause them to block your card until they have confirmed it is really you using it.
While you are on the telephone to them, check what, if any, charges will be incurred for using your card either to make payments or withdraw cash overseas. That way, you can work out the most cost-efficient way of dealing with day to day expenses.
Thank you for reading.
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