15 Tips for Traveling in Europe on Your Own

Traveling to Europe on your own is very rewarding. However, it is not for everyone. Some people prefer going through a travel agency for specific all inclusive tours. Others like to be adventuresome by designing their own trip. I prefer the latter so that I may enjoy more than scenery. I enjoy the experience of interacting with the locals and the adventures that can come from it. Through my extensive travels, I have some tips that might be helpful whether you are planning a trip on your own or going through a travel agent.

Tips for a Good Planned Trip

Tip 1: Have a budget. Then try and save more because it’s a good chance you will go over your budget unless you are a seasoned traveler in the particular country you are visiting.

Tip 2: Do your homework on the Internet for places to stay and activities to do. You can email people on prices and other pertinent information. I have booked many places to stay via email. I always ask how the deposit will be handled and what their cancellation policy is. If they say there is no cancellation allowed, then I move onto the next place. Also, a picture of the room is helpful. If they don’t have it online ask them to send you a brochure. Otherwise, skip them and go to the next hotel or pension. Recommendations will reduce the risk of selecting a bad pension or hotel. I prefer finding recommendations for hotels or pensions through some of the travel books that you can find in the book store. Just have a cup of coffee and browse with a piece of paper and pen. For cheaper lodging you can stay in a youth hostel. Just make sure you do your homework. Today youth hostels are better than they were ten years ago. You do save a lot. However, you want to know what you’re getting for that price.

Tip 3: Decide on what countries and cities you want to see. If it appears that you have so many choices and the cost involved might run over your budget, then develop more than one plan. Weigh the cost of the two plans to your budget. I find staying in a few main target cities for a longer period and taking day trips from those cities are far better than trying to see too many cities in a short period of time.

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Tip 4: Are you going to purchase a round trip plane ticket into one city? Or, do you want to fly into one city and come home from another city? You will find out that a round trip to one city is a cheaper way to fly. It is also possible to find a cheaper ticket within Europe to take you back to your destination. Check online travel sites like Cheaptickets.com. Then go to a travel agent to see if they can do better. Presently, the airlines are cutting back with how many flights are available all around the world. So there may not be any advantage of waiting closer to when you want to leave. In fact, you could be out of luck if you don’t book far enough in advance.

Tip 5: When you buy your airline ticket see if they do offer traveler’s insurance. Sometimes it is a small amount that can cover a lot. However, before you consider on buying any traveler’s insurance, see if the credit card you are using to purchase the ticket covers you for any losses or medical care.

Tip 6: Think of what would be unique to do in that country? For instance; if you want to go to Germany, staying overnight in a castle is a very unique and extraordinary opportunity. Or if you want to go to Italy, staying in an Agriturismo which is an Italian farm home and be involved with their lifestyle is a unique experience.

Tip 7: What about transportation? Do you use the Eurail or do you drive. A lot depends on how many people are with you and your budget. There are pros and cons for both ways. With the Eurail you don’t have to worry about driving and can enjoy the picturesque scenery. Before deciding on Eurail check to see what the point to point destination might be to compare the cost to a Eurail pass. Click here for more information.

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With a car, you don’t have to worry about a schedule to follow or carrying luggage around. If there are several people you can split the cost of gas. If you decide to drive, get yourself an International driver’s license. You can get that from AAA for a small amount. If you do drive, check with your insurance company to see if there might be coverage for you before you purchase the rental insurance. Total comprehensive insurance with a rental company is typically twice the cost to rent the car.

Tip 8: Make sure you have a Visa, Mastercard, and/or American Express credit card. Bring your debit card. You don’t have to bring a lot of cash because there are ATM’s just about everywhere these days. Because of this, traveler checks aren’t necessary either. In fact, some merchants won’t accept traveler’s checks because it costs them more money for the transaction. A credit card is typically covered for fraudulent purchases if you report your loss within two months of charges. Get the international phone numbers for your credit cards too. However, inform them that you are going overseas and what countries you are visiting.

Tip 9: Create an email address separately for your travels. You can use Yahoo or Hotmail and send all your important information there, including copies of your passport and important telephone numbers. Then you can access it overseas at any Internet café. Just make sure you log out and close the browser for security reasons.

Tip 10: Search online for the Internet cafes in the areas you are traveling and bring a list of these with you. It will save time while visiting these cities.

Tip 11: Go to Rick Steves websitewww.ricksteves.com Rick is a world traveler and has a great site there called “Graffiti Wall” where travelers report the most current happenings going on. You can pick up on any latest scams that might be happening in a country.

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Tip 12: Inform our State dept you are traveling overseas too. Click here for that information. While you are in the foreign country there are laws you should follow and sometimes notices for Americans to be aware of. You can also find that on the same website.

Tip 13: Check with your health insurance to see how to handle any emergencies overseas if you became seriously ill or hurt.

Tip 14: Pack light. First lay your clothes out. Then cut it in half. Then cut it in half again. Try not to over pack. You can buy your toiletries in the foreign country. Bring a little clothes line and a small container of detergent to wash your underwear out or any small clothing. Fold some nylon travel bags in your suitcase to bring your goodies back home. Or you can do like my husband and I and take empty suitcases and bring them back full.

Tip 15: Do not dress like a tourist. You could be putting a target on your back for pick pockets. Many Europeans do wear western clothing like jeans and our American T-shirts. However, look on the Internet for information and try to blend it. Wearing white tennis shoes is a definite give away that you are an American.

The best way to have a great trip is to be a good planner. Create an itinerary. You can be flexible with your schedule. However, in order to make use of time, have several options to choose from for the day’s activity.