Getting to Europe is easy but can be expensive for most of us. See my tips on cheaper airfares. Once there, you need to move around between countries, between cities in a country and around a city. There are many ways to do this including:
- Metro (Subway)
- Car Services for hire)
- Motorcycles or Vespas
- Tour Busses (Hop on Hop Off)
Watch the YouTube video below for ideas on using these modes of transportation:
Categories: Airplanes, Amalfi Coast, BLOG, Boats, cars, Driving in Italy, Europe, Ferries, Funicular, General Travel, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Madrid, Metro Travel, Phones, Seville, Smart Phones, Spain, Trains, trams, Travel Guides, Traveling without a tour, Valporetti, Vaporetto, Venice, VLOG, Walking, Water Taxi, YouTube
Tags: Airplanes, Boats, Car Services, cars, Cars for Hire, Europe, Ferries, Funicular, Hop on Hop off Bus, Italy, Metro, Motorcycles, Spain, Subway, Tour Busses, Trains, trams, Transportation, Walking
Being connected is important tool of us. We are on vacation but we want to be connected to:
- Stay in touch with the office
- Check on an illness in the family
- Facebook, text or email your status to family & friends
- Keep up with your texts and emails so you don’t return home to hundreds of unread items
We typically have caffè at a local bar with free WiFi. We can spend a little time over breakfast catching up and telling everyone what we are doing. Jo Anne is in sales and sometimes needs to keep in touch with customers. In this case we either buy a data plan from our provider or rent a WiFi box in Italy. One such company is Witourist. The box comes in 3G and 4G versions. It allows up to 5 devices to connect to its WiFi signal.
If you have economical ways to stay connected in Europe let us know.
George & Jo Anne
We get really tired of the airfare scams going on in the airfare business today. Basically all the discount sites offer the same airfares as the airlines except at last-minute when seats are unsold. The discount sites offer good deals in packaging hotels in with an airfare. We get emails about airfares from Philadelphia to Rome all the time. The normal fare is between $1200 and $1350 roundtrip per person. The emails state airfares as low as $750. If you click and go to the site there are never any $750 airfares. There may be $950 which is still good, right? Wrong! These airfares have long layover stops in some city. Some layovers are as long as 11 hours. After a 7 to 8 hour trip, do you really want to sit in an airport for 11 hours and then fly another 2 to 3? To us it isn’t worth the savings. We can go non stop to Rome from Philadelphia in 8 to 8.5 hours. Then we are in Italy ready to rent a car or take public transportation.
You don’t want to start a vacation of a lifetime with a horrible travel itinerary. If the savings are important to you, then stay at the city your plane lays over in for a few days. This way you’re not stuck in the airport and you can begin your vacation. Some airlines may up the price if you get off in the layover city. Check first.
European air trips are long for most Americans that have never flown over the pond. There are ways to make the flight go by fast:
- Sleep if you can. Even if you can get a few hours it will help.
- Watch movies. Most of these planes have monitors in the back of the seat in front of you. You can select movies free from a large list of titles.
- Play games. These plane entertainment systems have games as well as movies.
- Read a book. This is the perfect time to catch up on your reading.
- Write your own book or those letters you have always wanted to write.
- You can catch up on email or Facebook time. Most airlines offer internet WiFi on their planes for a small price.
Before you know it breakfast is being served and then you are landing at your destination. Enjoy your travels.
George & Jo Anne
Exchange rates display, seen at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, Thailand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When we travel to Europe we get hurt by the current poor exchange rates. The dollar and Euro started out equal. 1 dollar got you 1 Euro. Today the exchange rate is $1.37 gets you 1 Euro. You are loosing 1/3 of your money in exchange rates. What makes it worse is those rates are published best rates. If you exchange at an airport, as many Americans do, the rate is much worse. If you go to Europe once a year or once every two years, don’t exchange your Euros back to dollars! Keep them in your pocket for the next trip. This will protect you from an even higher exchange rate in the future. Credit cards have hidden exchange rate fees! First they usually charge higher than the published rate but not too much. Then they hit you with a Foreign exchange fee. These combined fees mean you are paying very a high rate for all you spend in Europe. Get a Credit Card that does not charge fees. I use Bank of America’s Visa card.
Historically exchange rates look-alike the DOW Jones Market fluctuations. This link shows you historical values.
George & Jo Anne
Categories: Europe, Exchange Rates
Tags: Bank of America, Credit card, Credit Cards, Currency, Europe, Exchange rate, Fee, Financial Services, No Tour Touring, Visa
Subregions of Europe (UN geoscheme) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Have you been searching for cheap airfares to Europe? Beware they are all the same but marketing tricks can suck you in. Buying your airfare a year in advance, when they are first available, can cost a big premium. There are some rules to know:
- Off season – If you travel outside the normal tourist season you can get substantial discounts. The destinations are much less crowded as well. You do have to be aware of climate or you could end up in a snow storm.
- Discount Sites – Theses sites usually offer the same prices as the airlines if you are buying only an airfare. They can provide discounts if you add in hotels or car rentals. Hotels can be at a substantial discount.
- Last Minute Travel – If you are retired or have a job where you can travel on a moments notice, you can save substantially. Be aware you might also be locked out from over booking. Airlines drop prices as the departure date nears and there are seats available. The more seats open the more discount they will offer.
- Look 3-4 days around your departure date – Checking prices before and after your departure date may help to find cheaper fares. Flying Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday instead of weekends can save you money. Most airfare sites offer an option to take the dates you entered and show you 3-4 dates on either side. They then highlight the cheapest fares.
Doing your homework and being a little flexible can save you a lot of money. Maybe even your hotel costs.
George & Jo Anne
Categories: Air Fares, Europe, General Travel
Tags: Airfares, Airline, Europe, Fare, Low-cost carrier, No Tour Touring, Recreation, Tourism, Transportation, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Wednesday
Image via CrunchBase
If you have a smart phone or are thinking of getting one and you are planning a trip to Europe, take it with you. I have an iPhone 5 and call AT&T before going. I can get reduced call costs in Europe, a data plan for Europe and texting for a fee. The phones work fine. We have had no problems at all. If you are at a hotel with WiFi, you don’t need a data plan and can text other iPhones for free using the WiFi. I have apps for subways, translation (Google translator) and sightseeing. If you get lost just use your map app and plug-in your hotel. Make sure you have it set to walk not drive (unless you are driving) and get instructions back to your hotel. You can use this to find museums, monuments and gardens as well or just an interesting restaurant.
The subway apps are fantastic. I use the Paris Metro App to find the nearest metro stop to where I am and then to plot a course on the metro to where I want to go. It tells you which direction to take train, how many stops to go, which trains to switch to and your final stop. The map app can then pick up from the metro stop to your destination.
Your smartphone becomes your European guide book but so much more powerful than any book could be.
What did we do before smart phones?
Categories: France, General Travel, Italy, Paris
Tags: Android, Apple, AT&T, Europe, Google, IPhone, iPhone 5, Italy, No Tour Touring, Smartphone, Tourism, Travel and Tourism, Travel Guides, Wi-Fi