Monday, December 12, 2011

The Few Things that are Free!

No matter how well you budget, traveling is expensive. There's good news though! Throughout my travels I have found that there are a few (emphasis on the few) bona fide free things that I want to pass along. 

To begin with, long gone are your days of avoiding McDonalds and Starbucks when you're travelling across the pond. While you may not want to stop there for a burger or a cup of coffee, these two American powerhouses have three of the most coveted commodities in Europe: Free water, free wi-fi, and most importantly, free bathrooms. Although it's perfectly acceptable in Europe to drink water from the tap, you will rarely find free water that doesn't come out of the bathroom sink. Helpful hint: When ordering water in a restaurant, make sure that when you request water, you ask for it out of the tap. Otherwise it'll probably cost just as much as a coke or a beer.

Free wi-fi is very important if you want to contact home. If you stay at a hostel, and even in some hotels, you'll have to pay for your internet usage by the minute which can add up quickly. Lastly, as a tour guide in Italy once told me "In Italy, we have an 11th commandment - Thou shalt go when thou can, not when thou needs to." This was probably one of the best pieces of advice given to me and I would suggest following this commandment, because otherwise you can find yourself in a bind with no other choice than to cough up the euro to use the restroom.

Another very useful free commodity is a map. While you can buy very useful maps and guide books from places such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon, if the city you're visiting is small enough their tourist center will most likely have a free map. If it's a large enough city, such as London, you can pick up a subway map which will probably have subway stops named after the city's large attractions, such as Piccadilly Circus and St. Paul's. In addition to paper maps, cities often have large signs directing you to those attractions. 

London Tube Map [Credit]

Have you discovered any other free things in Europe? Make sure to let me know! You can either e-mail me at or just comment below.

Happy travels!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Language Barriers - Learn to Talk the Talk

As you make your way through various European countries, you will notice that most Europeans know a good deal of English, but what you may not realize is that you still have the opportunity for a language barrier. Many countries in the UK have jargon different to that in America. There are a list of words that will help you acclimate into British society or even if you prefer to be viewed as a Birt or savvy world traveler. Rather than giving you a huge list of translations, here's just a small list of words that may help you out along your journey:

Fiver or tenner: A shortened term for a five pound note or ten pound note. 
Traniers/Joggers: Sneakers/tennis shoes 
Chunder: Throw-up/vomit
Cheers: Thanks
Tracky dacks/Tracky pants: Sweatpants
Bludge: Chill out, be lazy
Rubber: Pencil Eraser
Bubbler: Drinking fountain
Water fountain: Large ornate outside fountain.
Chips: Fries
Bakers: Baked potatoes
Quid: A pound, the American equivalent for "a buck"
Car Park: A parking lot
Tube: The British underground subway.
Brekkie: A shortened term for breakfast.
Advert: Commercial; a shortened term for advertisement.
Bugger: Expression describing dismay, just like "Oh, shoot!"
Flat: Apartment 

Another common British word is "whilst" or anything ending in "ist." Although no direct translation is needed, it would be beneficial to know the slang and regularly used British phases. Along the same lines of language, you'll also notice that the English replace many of the "z"s or "c"s, like in organization or practice, with an "s" or add a u into words such as behavior or color.

To all you fellow world travelers what are some words that threw you off whenever you traveled to Europe?

As always, if you have any questions, you can e-mail me at

Happy Travels!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Reader Question: To Tour Group or Not?

The Netherlands
[Courtesy of Amy Richards]
In an ideal world we would all be able to travel through Europe for a couple of weeks with our best friend. Unfortunately sometimes both money and time can be tight and you are faced with the choice of either traveling without anybody you know or not traveling at all. Since the opportunity to travel Europe is one that doesn't come around very often, many people decide that it's better to simply travel without anyone they know.This is when the question arises of whether to take a guided tour through Europe or travel alone. I have done both and I want to stress that neither are bad choices, nor are they mutually exclusive. The truth is you can do both if you please. There are pros and cons to each aspect.

From personal experience, traveling alone has its benefits, the first and foremost being independence. You will not have to compromise your sightseeing throughout Europe. You can travel where you want, when you want, and you only have to be concerned about your own budget. It's easier to get into some attractions, such as plays or take a night off if you're feeling worn out. However, sometimes it can get lonely without someone to share the experience with. You might not have someone to take a picture of you at a famous landmark, eating alone at a restaurant can sometimes be awkward. It's slightly more dangerous to travel alone as well. Having an extra set of eyes will give you more protection against pickpocketers and other dangers. 
Falvian Amphitheater Rome
[Courtesy of Amy Richards]

Tour groups on the whole tend to be more expensive, however  it'll be nice to share your world experiences with someone. Different tours vary on length, age range, activity level, and price, so you can definitely find something that fits your touring needs. Another benefit of tours is that they are likely to get you into places that it would be hard to get in yourself, and tickets places may be discounted because the touring company will buy them in bulk. One of the biggest benefits of going on a guided tour is getting more information about the place you're visiting than if you were to travel alone. Tour guides often know fun facts about different places in addition to a general overview of the area.

Want to know more about both options or have your own questions answered here on my blog? You can either e-mail me at or post a comment here. 

Happy Travels!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Edinburugh

While tips and tricks about traveling through Europe are incredibly useful, I'd like to take a moment to explore some of my favorite cities throughout Europe, starting with Edinburgh. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and home to many historic sites such as Edinburgh Castle and St. Giles Cathedral. I would suggest taking a stop by Edinburgh on your travels through Europe if you're a fan of both history and natural beauty. Since the city is relatively small, it is best to tour by foot so that you are not restricted by bus routes. Here are my top five things to do in Edinburgh and why!

Edinburgh Castle [Credit: Julie Wagner]
1. Edinburgh Castle: Edinburgh Castle has over 3000 years of history, with the earliest record of human habitation dating back to 900 BC. That being said, it would be almost impossible to list all the great things to see inside the castle in this one blog post. My recommendation is to visit their website and read through the highlights yourself to see if any of it tickles your fancy. Tickets are 16 euro and walking through the castle will take you around 3 hours. If you only have a little bit of time and like me were overwhelmed by the vastness of the castle, I would suggest seeing my personal favorites - the Great Hall, St. Margaret's Chapel, and the Scottish National War Memorial.

2. Arthur's Seat: There are many places in Edinburgh to view the skyline such as the National Library of Scotland or Edinburgh Castle, but none of them nearly compare to Arthur's Seat. Located next to the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood Park, Arthur's Seat is the highest hill in a group of hills It will most likely take you around 3 hours to climb to the top of Arthur's Seat and back. Helpful hint: Don't be misguided by the word "hill" - the inclination of Arthur's Seat combined with thinner atmosphere make this a sight better suited for those who are fitter, but not impossible for those who are not.

3. Shop along the Royal Mile: Any shopping you might want to do can be done along the Royal Mile. The  Royal Mile is a stretch that connects Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Park, so even if it's not one of your must sees, you'll probably run into it sooner or later. While you're strolling down the Royal Mile, make sure to look in the local shops for both cashmere and wool. Despite its small land area, Scotland is still home to a large amount of the world's cashmere production.
St. Giles Cathedral
[Credit: Julie Wagner]

4. St. Giles Cathedral: St. By far one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have seen throughout all my travels in Europe, St. Giles is a Protestant Cathedral located along the Royal Mile. Even though the church burnt down in 1385, St. Giles still has four central pillars dating back to 1120. Between the rebuilding of the cathedral in 1385 and the present day, there have been a number of milestone events and additions. In 1633, the church was declared a cathedral, major restorations were done between 1872 - 1883, and the newest additions were added on in 1985.

5. The National Museum of Scotland: I was debating between the National Museum and the Royal Botanical Gardens as my number five must see in Edinburgh, and while the Royal Botanical Garden is absolutely beautiful, it's really not much different than any other botanical garden so I decided to go with the National Museum of Scotland. The newly redone National Museum is a total of five stories high, complete with a cafe, and is free to the public (although donations are appreciated). With a vast variety of subject matter, from animals to space to art and more, you can make your visit to this interactive museum as brief or as involved as you want. You can also even just stop in for a good, climate controlled place to relax. You can visit the National Museum's website here:

Happy Travels!


Monday, November 14, 2011

How to Contact Home

At some point during your trip you're going to want to contact home, whether it's to tell your friends what a great time you're having, talk to your bank in case of any problems with money, or simply to wish a family member a happy birthday. There are multiple ways to do that, but since you’re probably on a budget, you’ll want to know the cheapest way.

The first way to call home doesn’t require a laptop. It is a phone card. In some countries you can purchase a phone card that has 500 minutes for only five euro. It won’t cost the person you're calling anything so it’s a great way to contact home.

Example of what a MajicJack
looks like [Credit]
The next couple of ways to contact home require a laptop. Some of you might have seen the infomercial for MajicJack, a device that you hook up to the jack in a corded phone and the USB port in your computer. MajicJack costs 40 USD for one year of unlimited calling. With MajicJack you can call any number in the United States just as if you were right at home. I have found this most useful for calling home and letting home call me due to the fact that I didn't have to worry about the time limit of the conversations. The only downside to the MajicJack is the fact that it requires a steady internet connection. Without a stable connection, your will be unable to hear the person on the other line.

If you’re more into face time, I would suggest using Skype, a free software that you can download to your computer and make video calls as well as three way calls with a webcam and microphone. You can also call overseas fairly inexpensively. This mode of communication also relies on a reliable internet connection, so while it may not work in some cases, it’s a great way to see your friends and family’s faces back home.

Once you are in your Facebook account, go to the top right
corner and choose account settings. From there follow the
instructions to forward Facebook to your mobile [Credit]
Lastly, you might want to consider buying a European cell phone. For 10£ a month (and more importantly without a contract), you can get around 200 minutes of talk and unlimited texts. Often times you can text regardless of the country you're in. Now, you're probably thinking right about now, how does that benefit me if I don't know anyone in Europe? Something that people rarely realize is that you can route Facebook messages and wall posts to your phone via a SMS text. That way whenever someone messages you on Facebook you have the ability to message them right back, almost as if it were a text. This is great in keeping in constant contact with people, in that it doesn't rely on internet, and is a flat fee so you don't have to worry about breaking the bank.

To those readers who have been abroad, what do you find is the best way to contact home? Remember you can always e-mail me with any questions you have about traveling abroad at

Happy Travels!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Reader Question: How Much Money Do I Need?

Ferris Wheel in London
[Photo courtesy of Amy Richards]
While writing my blog, I found the most common question asked by readers was "How much money do I need to travel through Europe?" Like everything on your trip, this will depend on your personal preferences on how you want to spend your money and what's important to you. For example, some people will think it's worth it to spend the extra money to get an authentic taste of the local cuisine, while others would rather travel around with a peanut butter sandwich so they can spend money on tours and local attractions. Because of these individual variations, I broke down a budget and offered variations, ranging from scraping by to splurging.

Your basic budget, not counting travel is 45 - 60€/day. Add your travel on top of that (averaged in) and you'll probably end up spending a total of 80€/day, multiplied by 30 days is 2400€ total. Here's how I got that number:
  • Hostels cost anywhere from 15 - 20€/day. Earlier in the year I wrote a blog about hostels and how you can save money when booking your hostel, so make sure to check that out if you need some extra tips.
  • Food will cost you anywhere from 10 - 20€/day. Your 10€/day budget will consist of sandwiches and pastries, and while it's doable, it probably won't fill you up. 20€ is a better budget if you want to stay full and try some of the street food in the area. 
  • Your mode of transportation will be the biggest factor determining your budget. Some places you visit, you will be able to walk everywhere, others you will have to take a bus (about 3€ round trip depending on the the place you're visiting. Traveling from country to country depends on whether or not you fly or take the Eurail, as the prices will differ greatly depending on how many countries you plan to visit. For tips on the best mode of transportation to use, you can look at my blogs about rail systems within a countrythe Eurail, and plane travel in Europe
  • Lastly, you have to take into account that it will cost money to do some touristy things. For example in Scotland Edinburgh Castle is 14£ and a bike tour in Amsterdam is 20€. Experiences like these are often worth the money, so make sure you include this in your budget. Also keep in mind that you might encounter more than one tourist opportunity in one day, or you may want to buy a souvenir from your travels.
Edinburgh Castle
[Courtesy of Amy Richards]
There are items outside your budget that are important to consider too, like bank fees (see my blog about money in Europeor what to do if you find you've been pick-pocketed.

Have any questions of your own that I could answer? Feel free to e-mail me at or post a comment below. Click the "Follow" button on the top left hand corner of the blog to keep updated on trips for traveling through Europe.

Happy Travels!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Dressing the Part – Clothing In Europe

European fashion is different than American fashion in a variety of ways, so it’s important to take note of the differences their color, the amount of clothes they have, and the style in which they wear their clothes. Even though bright colors are often in fashion in the United States, while you’re in Europe wearing bright colors will make you stick out as American. In Europe, the predominant colors are black, grey and brown.

In addition, while Americans often have closets full of clothes and a different shirt for every day of the week, Europeans have a limited number of tops and bottoms that they often mix and match. This will be a benefit to you as you will need to pack light if you plan on doing lots of travelling. Even better, it is not uncommon for Europeans to wear the same clothes multiple days in a row (given of course that they are not specifically dirty or smelly). The bottom line is that you shouldn’t feel self conscious if in the name of packing light you have to wear the same clothes over and over again, just consider yourself more European.

As far as shoes go, it is very important to leave the tennis shoes at home. A good pair of hiking boots will come in handy if you plan on doing any intense hiking/climbing, but if you only plan on walking around then a pair of black, rubber soled shoes should be fine.

Whenever the weather gets colder, the key to staying warm is layering. Tights are definitely a good thing to keep around. Not only can you wear them under skirts, you can wear them under pants as well. Scarfs are another essential for cold weather and are worn by both men and women alike. The warmest way to wear a scarf is to fold it in half, place it around your neck and put the two loose ends through the hole created by folding the scarf in half. Between tights, scarfs, and a good pair of warm socks, you should be able to brace any cold weather you encounter.

Come to Europe prepared for a little bit of rain. It’s good to have a pair of “wellies” (rain boots) and an umbrella or a raincoat especially if you travel in areas like England, the Netherlands, and parts of Italy that are right next to the coast.

Remember if you have any questions, feel free to email me at or comment below!

Happy Travels!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Staying in Hostels

Most often if you’re staying in hostels you will have to either carry all of your luggage on your back or store it in their luggage room. While some luggage rooms are highly regulated, others allow you to come and go as you please. Luggage rooms are most often unlocked closets stuffed to the top with other backpacks and duffel bags, so unless you plan on locking your bag, it is not as safe and secure as you might be used to with a hotel. Some hostels will have lockers that you can use. These lockers will most likely not come with locks, so either bring your own, or see if the hostel has locks to rent out. If you do choose to bring your own lock, while the typical 30-number locks (see right) are probably the safest, you may have to suffice for a suitcase lock in the interest of weight on your back.

When you’re staying in your hostel, you are at a prime risk for being robbed. Most likely you will have your passport, wallet, a cell phone, and money with you when you travel, all of which can be stolen while you sleep. Locks may prevent someone from getting into your backpack but it may not necessarily stop them from taking your backpack altogether. For the most part, other hostel guests will respect your stuff, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Suggestions for where to put your valuables include putting your passport around your neck, putting your wallet either in your pillow or in your jeans pocket (but only if you plan on sleeping in your jeans), and even sleeping with your backpack like you would sleep holding a teddy bear (it is suggested that you still lock your backpack when doing this).

Wall Art in a Hostel [Credit: Julie Wagner]
As mentioned earlier, if you’re staying in a hostel backpacking through Europe, you’re most likely carrying everything on your back. While you may be tempted to bring a full sized towel along with soap and shampoo, carrying all that extra weight will get old after a week or two. Instead of bringing a full sized towel, bring a hand towel. It will be much lighter and get the job done (for the most part). If you have the money, feel free to buy a new travel sized shampoo and body wash whenever you run out, however, if money is tight, remember that hostels will have hand soap for free, and although rather unpleasant, they also get the job done.

Happy Travels!


Monday, October 17, 2011

How to Book Your Hostel

Most likely, when travelling you will be staying in a hostel. Hostels are less luxurious versions of hotels. Much  like summer camps, you will most likely be in a room with bunk beds and have community showers and toilets. Most hostels cost around 20 euros a night on the weekends, but can be more or less expensive depending on how far ahead you book, the day of the week you plan on staying at the hostel, how many people you plan on sharing your room with, and whether or not you wish to have a single sex room.

Your best bet is to book your hostel more than two weeks in advance, especially if you are staying on high demand nights. Saturdays are the most high demand nights, and thus the most expensive night to sleep anywhere, followed by Friday and Sunday; however depending on your length of stay in Europe, this factor may be out of your control.

You will share your room with 3 – 15 other people. The smaller rooms fitting four people are often referred to as “private rooms” and are more expensive, but a good idea if you have large valuable items, such as laptops or SLR cameras. The last option you can having regarding the price of your hostel is if your room is single sex or unisex, with single sex being more expensive.

Once you have made your decisions regarding the kind of room you want to stay in, you can book your hostel online, most often paying a 10% deposit fee and paying the rest when you arrive at the hostel. Depending on the hostel, the price may include breakfast.

A great go-to place for booking your hostel is has no booking fee and includes a brief summary of each hostel accompanied by user ratings. Do not be alarmed by the fact that almost no place has above a 90% rating. Due to the fact that accommodations are so cheap, there will be sacrifices made, and each user has a different opinion on what comforts they are willing to sacrifice. A user’s rating will also be influenced by who is staying at the hostel at the time due to the fact that hostels provide accommodations for a wide range of people.

Remember if you have any questions, feel free to email me at Check back next week for more information about staying in hostels!

Happy Travels!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Using the Rail System within a Country

The rail system is also useful when travelling within a country. Rail systems are more expensive than coaches, but you will also get to your destination faster, making up to a two hour difference depending on how large the country is. Some rail routes are straight through – meaning there will be stops along the way, but you do not have to get off the train. In order to get to other destinations, you might have to switch trains and even train companies.

A good website to check out for the best prices travelling by rail within the UK is A WORD OF WARNING: There WILL be a booking fee if you choose to book with this website. I would suggest rather you search rates with different train companies on the website and then book directly through the train site. Make sure to book your train ticket at least two weeks beforehand as train prices rise rapidly as the date of departure approaches.

[Credit: Laura Ekstrom]
Once again, it is suggested that you buy a railcard if you plan on travelling to more than three places within the country. Buying a railcard is valid no matter the train company you use. Although it is an upfront fee of 25 pounds, this will give you major discounts on your travel. One money saving tip is to bring your own passport size photo. If you choose get a passport photo at the rail station, there is a machine where you can take your picture for 5 pounds.

Once you purchase your train ticket, it is of utmost importance that you both write down your reference number, bring the credit card you booked the train ticket with you to the train station, and arrive at the station with enough time to spare. After purchasing your ticket online, you will need to pick your ticket up from the station you’ll be departing from or have it mailed to you. If you decide to pick up your ticket from the train station, you will see a ticket machine of which you will enter your reference number and the card you used to pay for the ticket to print out your ticket.

[Credit: Laura Ekstrom]
After you get your ticket, you’ll need to look at the screens to see which platform your train is departing from, much like an airport. The trains will not board more than 20 minutes before they depart, however it is still wise to get there at least 30 minutes early due to the multitude of factors that can go wrong, such as missing the bus to go to the train station or a long line at the ticket collecting machine. Note: The ticket machine lines will vary based on the time of day and the day of the week you go to the station, so prepare for the worst, but expect the best. You will usually be allowed to get onto the train about 10 minutes before departure, and then you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.

Check back next week for all about hostels! In the meantime, click the "Follow" button at the top left corner of the page to stay updated with tips on how to make the most of your trip abroad.

Happy Travels!


Monday, October 3, 2011

All About the Eurail

Another easy way to travel from country to country is the Eurail. Eurail is a company that sells passes for rail systems all across Europe. This is most useful and cost efficient if you plan on travelling in more than two countries for more than one month. The Eurail pass does not work as well for most inner city transportation, such as busses or inner city trains.

The Eurorail has four passes to choose from. The first option is a one country pass for three to ten days. The second option is a two country pass for four to ten days. The third option is to get a select pass for three, four, or five countries and can be used from five to fifteen days. Lastly, for the most bang for your buck, choose the global pass for 22 countries and is good for fifteen days to three months. When you sign up for your Eurail pass, it will come with a free booklet that lists all the different train times, which is incredibly convenient, even time schedules will change occasionally.

The Eurail provides great flexibility when choosing your trains and is great for “on a whim” sort of travel, however, it is important to note that not all trains are free with the pass. Overnight trains still cost, although with the Eurail pass you can get up to a 75% discount. You can even get free upgrades to a cabin with a bed, but you will have to ask.

Lastly, it’s very important to protect your Eurail pass. Insurance for your pass can be purchased for a small amount, especially considering how common pick pocketing in Europe is. The Eurail pass, in addition, is not very durable, so it is suggested that you protect it by either keeping it in a waterproof bag or wrapping it with tape. More information can be found out about the Eurail at

Remember if you have any questions, feel free to email me at and follow my blog to keep up with helpful hints on how to travel through Europe.

Happy Travels!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Fly Away! Plane travel within Europe

European countries rely much heavier on public transportation than we do in America, so not having a car will not pose a problem. Because of the wide variety of public transportation, there is a different type to use depending on the distance and time of day you plan on travelling.

Ryan Air Cabin [Credit]
Flying is the best method of travel if you plan on travelling from one country to another in Europe. Unlike flights in the United States, flights in Europe are fairly cheap, some fares even being as low as 5 euros. Your best bet for finding the lowest fair is to choose an inexpensive “no frills” airlines, such as BMI Baby or Ryan Air. If you do plan on flying with “no frills” airlines, there are a few words of warning you need to take note of. First, make sure to check the extra fees and charges that you may accrue. For example, unlike most airlines in the United States, some (but not all) airlines will charge you up to a 40 pound fee of for checking in at the airport counter instead of free online check in. Other extra charges include a fee for checked luggage, depending on its weight and how far away your destination is, and then a fee for infant and infant items.

With whomever you choose to book your flight, make sure you book ahead of time. While travelling may seem like a “spur of the moment” sort of thing, in reality it is much less expensive if you book at least two months ahead of time. One helpful website to compare all airline prices in one place is, which can be used for both flights within Europe and when you come home and want to travel within the United States as well.

Keep updated on tips for travelling through Europe by clicking the "follow" button on the top left hand corner or the page. If you have any specific questions about travelling through Europe or have a topic you'd like me to address, shoot me an email me at Check back next week for more about travelling from country to country and the most inexpensive ways to do so. 

Happy Travels!


Monday, September 19, 2011

More About Money While Traveling in Europe!

As mentioned before, even though it may be more expensive, you can use your American credit and debit cards in Europe, depending on the brand. Smaller names like Discover are often not accepted, but most places take both Visa and Mastercard. One thing that causes a bit of confusion for most Americans is that even when you have a debit card, you will have to run it as a credit card for any vendor to accept it. In addition, when you run your debit card, a 3% transaction fee will be added on to your total by your credit card company.

Because you can’t be sure what places will accept certain cards and which will not, I would suggest bringing two brands of cards, one or both of which you can withdraw cash from in case of an emergency, and local currency. Although you may only use it when you’re buying something off the street, it is important that wherever you go you have cash on you. Transitioning to and from foreign currencies can often be difficult. My best suggestion is to note both the shapes and the weights of the currency as this will make counting change and digging through your purse easier. For example, if you’re in England, you can take note that a pound is the heaviest coin you will encounter, while a two pence piece will be the biggest you find.

Travelling with cash does have its downsides. Whereas if your credit card or debit card gets stolen, you can simply call the bank up, cancel the card, and remove the fraudulent charges, when your cash gets stolen there is no way of getting it back. To protect yourself from getting your money stolen I suggest a money belt. I was sceptical of money belts at first, but they have proven to be extremely useful and extremely safe. I would suggest keeping 30 euro/pounds in your wallet or purse and the rest of your money in your money belt. That way if you get mugged, you’ve only lost a minimal amount of cash. Women, when you get into places like Italy and Eastern Europe, hold on to your purse – do not have it simply hanging off your shoulder. A more conspicuous way of hiding your purse would be placing on your shoulder as you would normally do BEFORE you put your coat on.

If you’re really interested in keeping larger items safe, I would recommend purchasing a Pacsafe backpack.
An example of one of the Pacsafe Backpacs
They have a one year warranty, slashproof straps, wire mesh on the bottom of the backpacks and zippers with clasps. To find more information on these backpacks, visit

Remember if you have any questions, feel free to email me at Also make sure to click the follow button at the top of my blog to stay updated with new tips and tricks on how to travel through Europe of a budget. Check back next week for a blog about transportation through Europe!

Happy Travels!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Money While Traveling In Europe

[Photo courtesy
Amy Richards]
Although this will no doubt be the trip of a lifetime for you, it is important to think about how you will get money while you’re over in Europe. Keep in mind when you read this that the policies and fees are different for every bank; however, the same general principles apply. Please note that these are all the policies and procedures for American banks. If you open an international bank account before you leave overseas with a bank like HSBC, you will have the easiest time getting money, with limited conversion and transfer fees, and the added bonus of still having a useful bank account when you return home.

The most expensive way to get money will be through an ATM. Not only will you be charged an ATM fee (sometimes a base dollar amount, other times a percentage of what you withdraw), but in most cases you will also be charged a conversion fee to convert your money from U.S. Dollars to the local currency. If you’re simply looking for the convenience of withdrawing money, this is probably the way to go.

The next way for you to get money is to have it wired from the United States. This will require a European bank account. Luckily these are fairly easy to set up, and are often free. There will most likely be a flat fee for this. One important thing to note, if the wire transfer is done by the bank it will cost more than if you do it by yourself (with the bank I used it was only a difference of five dollars, but it’s important to try and save where you can).

The last way to get money while you’re in Europe is the cheapest, but also takes the longest due to the fact that European banks can take up to thirty days to transfer money. You will need both a European checking account and an American checking account, and then simply write a check to yourself from your American bank account to your European one. In my experience, the process took three weeks.

It is always best to bring some money with you when you travel overseas until you are certain of your money situation over there. If you’re planning on using an ATM to get cash or even plan on wiring money over, you won’t need to travel with as much cash on you (probably 100 euro/pound), however, if you plan on writing a check to yourself, I would suggest travelling with 700 euro/pounds. You can spread this money out in your suitcase and by using a money belt.

Look for next week’s blog for more about money! Remember if you have any questions, feel free to email me at

Happy Travels!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Getting There - Flying to Europe

Once you make the decision to travel abroad, you will then have to decide where you will be visiting and how you will get there. While your destination will depend on your personal preferences of climate and culture, how will arrive at your destination is fairly limited to either a boat or plane. The majority of people will choose to travel by plane due to the fact that it is much quicker. Because travelling such a far distance by plane is foreign to many people, this particular entry will discuss how to book your flight abroad, what to pack for your flight, what to expect with your flight and how to deal with jetlag.

 A transatlantic flight can cost anywhere from $800 USD (U.S. Dollars) upward depending on where you travel, with most flights averaging around $1000+. In order to get the best deal when booking your flight, it will be most beneficial for you to fly to Europe from the biggest city near you. While you will have to spend money on gas to drive to the nearest big city, you will save yourself time that you have to be confined in an airplane. In addition, you will increase your chances of a straight through flight, which decreases the risk of your losing your luggage in a transfer flight.

Another money saving tip when booking your flight is to book through the website When using the website, it’s okay to be set on your destination, however I suggest that you stay flexible with your dates, as it could save you money. Keep in mind that the cheapest days to fly are on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. A constant theme that you will see throughout this blog is to plan ahead. In keeping with that theme, it is best to book transatlantic flights four to six months in advance.
The website [Credit]

As soon as you’ve booked your flight abroad, you may be wondering what to pack. Most large airplanes have TV screens so you can choose from a wide variety of television shows, movies, games and music to choose from on your flight. The airline will also most likely provide you with complimentary amenities such as a set of headphones, a small pillow and a blanket. If you fancy higher end amenities, I would suggest bringing your own. Unlike most domestic flights, you will be served both dinner and breakfast; however it is always advisable to keep some snack food with you on the plane just in case you don’t like the food served.

[Credit: Laura White]
Most flights over to Europe will start in the afternoon and arrive in early morning in a European time zone. As a result, you will probably want to sleep on the flight. This is when the blanket and pillow often come in handy. Sleeping on the plane will also help you adjust to the time change, so when you step off the plane you can jump right into the European time zone. Another suggestion for overcoming jetlag is to start getting up earlier and going to bed earlier the week before your trip overseas.

Remember if you have any questions, feel free to email me at Check back next week for my blog about money while you're in Europe!

Happy Travels!



Welcome to my blog!

This blog is for anyone interested in learning about how to travel through Europe. Whether you’re about to graduate from high school, college, thinking about studying abroad, or just want a long vacation, read on!

While the decision to travel through Europe or to study abroad may be made on a whim, the planning of such a trip is not. It’s wise to plan ahead and do your research, and this blog can help you with that. My blogs will first discuss  the nuts and bolts of your trip abroad like how to get there, what to do about money while you’re there, how to select a hostel and how not to get mugged. Later on I’ll discuss other subjects like how to dress so you can fit in, and different words and foods that you’ll encounter.

Have any questions about travelling through Europe or subjects you want me to discuss in my blog? Just email me at and remember to check back for a new blog every week!

Happy Travels!