Europe is amazing for it’s big cities, museums, famous points of interest, food, wine and it’s people. Once you have seen the main attractions what is next? PLENTY! There are thousands of small cities. Some are in the mountains, some at the beach and others just inland in a valley. Think about what you like most. Do you love to see mountains or beach or both. Do you want a quiet town with locals or a popular small town with tourists. What kind of food do you like? These questions help you decide on where to take your next vacation. Remember that most of Europe’s real treasures or not on tour stops. To reach them you have to get out on your own and seek them out. Travel with your spouse or friends or relatives. Enjoy this experience with someone.
Do you speak a second language? That may help determine which country you pick. If you don’t speak a second language, no problem. English is spoken to some degree in all the bigger cities and to a lesser degree in smaller towns. Learn some basics like please and thank you, Good day, how much, etc. You can survive on your own. Buy a guide book that covers the areas you will visit. Familiarize yourself with the attractions you are interested in. Don’t set a hard schedule. The purpose of vacation is to relax and enjoy. If you find a small town that is exciting, change your schedule and spend more time there. Be spontaneous.
Shop for airline tickets. The prices change drastically over time. I have found cheaper fares 10 months out when they are first available. Then they go up sometimes by several hundred dollars. Then at the last minute if seats are available they drop again. Not everyone can travel last minute but if you can you can get some substantial discounts. The same is true with hotels. If you book airline and hotels together on a site like Orbitz, you can get great discounts on the hotel. Shop for european hotels not American ones. Make sure you have a private bath. Don’t worry about small rooms (they are very small). You are going to spend the night only. During the day you are out enjoying your city.
Shop banks for dollar to Euro exchange. The rates jump all over the place. DO NOT EXCHANGE AT THE AIRPORT! The rates there are outrageous. Banks in Europe have good rates but hotels are usually very high. Get a credit card that does NOT charge an extra fee for foreign transactions and use it. You can use your ATM card in ATMs in Europe to get cash as well. When you leave don’t cash your Euros back to dollars unless you never plan to return to Europe.
Rental cars can be expensive but you can find deals. The cars are small. We Americans travel with VERY big suitcases. four people and four big suitcases won’t fit in most European cars. Get a diesel if possible. The fuel is cheaper and you get much better milage. Once there forget about checking your itinerary all the time. Relax and enjoy the country you chose, the cities, the food and the people. Remembers Bars are not the same as in America. They are family places. In the morning you go to a bar for a pastry and coffee. At lunch time you can get a sandwich with a soda, beer or wine and at dinner you can get sandwiches and a drink. All day long you can stop for a coffee or drink and a light snack. Some serve ice cream.
Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy ..
George & Jo Anne