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!