Tips, Tricks, and Advice for Budget Travel to Europe
From the basics of planning and going to making the most of your holiday.
Millions of Americans travel to Europe each year with the peak season being summer. Start planning your trip now to get the most from it. Budget, of course, is an important concern and with a few tips and tricks, almost anyone can afford a vacation to Europe.
One of the first items to check off your pre-travel list is determine who is going with you. If traveling with a significant other, you may want to research Bed & Breakfast accommodations, private rooms at hostels, and low-cost hotels. A solo traveler or a small group of friends would save money by using youth hostel dorm rooms along the way. The hostel network is huge in Europe and hostels provide clean rooms, travel-minded clientele and modern services such as Internet, online reservation, and smart lockers.
Make sure everyone going (or interested in going) applies for a passport. Go to your local Post Office to pick up an application. You will need to supply passport size photos and an original birth certificate when you file. Allow two months processing time, however 2-4 weeks is common before the summer rush.
Travel agents still exist. They are professional and offer a personal service not found through a computer. Whether you book online or with an agent, start looking at fares now. Travel expert Peter Greenberg suggests “When it comes to economy seats, the sales start coming around March and April. But for those of you who are flexible with your travel, it can pay to wait until the last minute. That’s when airlines need to unload inventory so start on top of deals through airfare alerts and flash sales.”
Consider an “open jaws” ticket. This type of travel refers to flying into one European city, say London, and home from another, such as Frankfurt. This way, travelers do not have to backtrack to their first city, thus saving time and transportation costs.
Besides a passport, you will want to take each of the following if you have them: driver’s license, student identification card, and hostel membership card. If you rent a car, you will need a government issued license or an International Driving Permit. In Europe, your Michigan Drivers’ license is fine. Students can save money showing their ID card. Museums and buses are two examples that usually offer a student rate. If you plan on using hostels, purchase a $28 membership with Hostelling International – good for one year.
Take all your documents, itinerary, and credit cards – basically your “wallet items” – and photocopy them twice. Swap with your travel partner or if going solo, put in your luggage. Leave the other copy at home with a relative. If you were to lose your passport, go to a U.S. embassy and provide the copies. To be on the safe side, scan everything and email it to yourself.
Packing, Luggage, and Safety Tips will be highlighted in Part Two of this Series on How to Budget Travel to Europe.
Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at Michael@RochesterMedia.com