Tips to save money and time traveling in Europe

When To Go in a Car or on a Bike

For out-of-the way places or for an unusual travel schedule, a rental car or bicycle might work the best. In England on the Moors for example, it might be best to rent a car. The castles and moors sprinkled among the hills do have limited bus access, but a rental car would make it possible to see the sights without having to be on a timetable.

Information Kiosks Help Travelers Find Their Destination

Information centers located in various shops, restaurants, and even post offices make getting around even easier. Of course, train, bus, and metro stations always have an information booth staffed by multilingual experts in the local transportation and visitor information for the curious traveler. Look for the big blue “i.”

Getting Around by Bus or Metro Avoids Crowded Streets

In large cities such as London, Paris, or Madrid, it’s easy to get around on the bus or underground subway systems. When staying longer than a day or two and wanting to stop frequently to see various sights, a pass for three, four, five or more days might be more economical. In small towns, usually stopping at the centrally located rail station and walking saves gas and allows visitors to find unusual sights along the way that they might otherwise miss. For example, in Bristol, UK, on the walk from the train station to the Youth Hostel, one can visit the first US consulate in Britain established in 1792.

Tour on the Bus When the Weather is Stormy

Another option, especially on rainy days, is the city bus tour, offered in most major cities in Europe. A one or two-day pass allows visitors to see various sections of a city with dozens of on/off stops with one ticket. In Paris, the city is divided into four sections: the Paris Grand Tour including the Louvre, Notre-Dame, Saint-Michel, Eiffel Tower; Montparnasse – St. Germain including Luxembourg Palace, Montparnasse, and the Latin Quarter; Montmartre including the local hot spots; and Bastille including Notre-Dame, Ile Saint-Louis, Bastille-Opera and the National Library. Be sure to save Montmartre until last to enjoy the ambience of the evening nightlife.

Train Passes Purchased in Advance Provide Economy and Flexibility

To go from city to city, a Eurail Pass (or BritRail pass in the UK) is a great way to travel. Purchasing a pass in advance eases the budget while traveling around Europe. To save hotel costs, reserving a couchette and sleeping while traveling allows more time to visit the sights by day. When ordering either the Eurail Pass or BritRail Pass from Rick Steves, he’ll include a free DVD explaining how to make the most of European travels in three easy sections: Travel Skills, Part I talks about how to handle red tape, exchanging money, and traveling by air or car; Part II talks about taking tours vs. traveling solo, planning an itinerary, communicating, and safety; Part III helps with finding accommodations, eating well, and surviving the big city.

Boat Rides Offer Comfort and a Relaxing Pace

Another way to travel in Europe is by boat. Many cities offer boat tours and sometimes they discount the price when shown a Eurail or BritRail Pass. There are harbor boat tours in Barcelona, Spain and Plymouth, England, river tours in London and Paris and along the Rhine River in Germany where the banks of the river are dotted with castles. Also to save a little money, crossing from England to France on a ferry is also discounted with a train pass.

Sometimes it’s more convenient to take a short trip by air. Prices in Europe are very reasonable and if saving outweighs the expense, it might just be worthwhile. But no matter what mode of transportation is taken, traveling in Europe is as easy as getting on and off.

Flights in Europe

Flying between cities is the best way to maximize the amount of time spent in each city by minimizing travel time. Flying is also one of the most affordable travel options with flights in Europe starting at just a penny plus tax on discount airlines.

Discount airlines offer cheap, no frills flights between European cities. Ryanair has many flights between the United Kingdom and other European cities. EasyJet and Wizzair offer flights between major European cities. SkyEurope offers the most affordable flights within Eastern Europe.

When booking flights, check what time public transportation runs until in the arrival city. The cheapest flights are usually late in the evening but travelers can run into problems if public transportation has stopped running since the discount airlines use airports that are slightly outside the major cities.

Trains in Europe

The train system is extensive and convenient. Trains in Europe are comfortable and perfect for relaxing. Sleeper cars are available on overnight routes so travelers can travel while they sleep and wake up in a new place.

To get the best deal on train travel within Europe, a rail pass should be purchased. Eurail offers customized rail passes depending on travel needs. Discounted rates are available for students and youth. A fifteen day rail pass costs 332 euros for youth under 25 years old and 511 euros for adults.

Rail passes do not include a nominal reservation fee for major train routes in Europe. Travelers need to reserve seats on popular train routes a few days ahead of time, especially in peak months. Sleeper cars also require a reservation and Eurail pass holders will be charged a fee.

Driving in Europe

Driving in Europe is a great way to see the smaller cities and the beautiful countryside. Obtaining an International Driving Permit is strongly recommended and can be purchased in one’s home country. It is wise to familiarize oneself with road signs and driving laws in Europe prior to the trip.

Some of the casino reviews websites can be used to compare car rental prices in most European cities. AutoEurope and Europcar websites also offer affordable car rental rates. A European GPS system is available through car rental companies for a nominal fee and is worth the price.

Public transportation is the best option for getting around in big European cities because driving can be chaotic for foreign tourists. Rail Europe has a Rail ‘N Drive pass that combines train travel with car rentals. This allows for easy navigation to the big cities and the convenience of a car in smaller cities.

Buses in Europe

The bus system in Europe is not as extensive as the train system, however, buses are available between big cities. Bus passes are usually more affordable than train passes. Eurolines is the most far-reaching bus line in Europe and fifteen day passes start at 175 euros per person. Keep in mind that long routes will be more comfortable on a train.

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