Europe Travel – Explore the Most Beautiful Continent in the World

If you are planning your vacations then a tour to Europe would be the right choice. It is the most beautiful continent in the world and for exactly this reason one should visit this lovely continent. The established fact about Europe came out in the year 2004 when World Tourism Organization declared it as the biggest travel spot in the world. In this year 54% of the world’s travel business came from Europe only. Europe travel will give you an opportunity to see various tourist destinations that can refresh your mind and will definitely make your tour unforgettable.

Europe comprises of various countries that are very rich in travel destinations. These countries have various landmarks that can cater every kind of traveler. All kind of travelers has different traveling needs. Some loves to visit beaches, museums, Churches and some loves to enjoy sports adventures. Also Europe travel offers a chance to visit various historical monuments Scenic beauty of this continent has always attracted a keen and potential visitor. The places to discover, here, are endless.

Major countries which are part of Europe travel are United Kingdom, France, Greece, Holland, Iceland, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Rome, Switzerland and Turkey. Each of these countries has some world famous tourist location where a traveler can learn history, natural beauty and lots more. Traveling to these countries of Europe could be a lifetime experience for you.

Europe travel is one of convenience. In Europe, mode of transport are fully recognized and well managed. Various countries in Europe are famous for their rail networks. However this lovely continent can be seen through ship, railways, air transport and even through roadways. European countries are well developed with high living standards, culture and traditions.

Europe travel is the right combination for every kind of traveler. The countries of Europe are a must visit in a lifetime. So, if you were planning your trip then pack your bags and move to Europe, the real paradise on earth.

Silly Travel Gadgets

We all want gadgets to make our lives easier, especially when traveling abroad or here at home. Traveling is very stressful and companies know this, so they try and sell you such far out gadgets to travel with, I wonder where they come up with these, why people even buy them.

Off course there are those gadgets that are life savers while traveling such as those nice comfy neck pillows, now airlines are charging for just a flat pillow, these to come in handy, particularly if you travel a lot. But when it comes to an air conditioned tee shirt, I draw the line. I noticed these online when I was shopping around. They actually pump cool air into the tee shirt, thus keeping you cool all day, oh please! Not only are they pretty lame they are expensive, around $150.00 a shirt, I can certainly buy something much better for $150.00.

As I have traveled through Europe they do not have public rest rooms like America does. You usually have to squat over a hole and tinkle. Well now they have a paper cup shaped like a cone and tinkle in it, standing up. Number one you might as well as tinkle over the hole outright because ladies, sometimes our aim is not so good, or at least mine isn’t. Then you have carry it around until you find a place to throw it away, no thank you.

Disposable underwear I can almost go along with, almost. They are made out of paper I think, I did not dwell on it for very long, thinking, that’s okay, I really don’t need them and do not want a paper cut in the most unusual spot. So no disposable underwear for this gal.

One of the silliest traveling gadgets I have seen is the wearable sleeping bag. Have people become so lazy that they will wear what they sleep in everywhere? I do hope not. I just can not imagine this and have yet to see anything so stupid on airplanes.

The sad part about all these silly travel gadgets is that people will actually buy them thus putting money in the manufactures pocket and they are probably laughing all the way to the bank. So fellow travelers, don’t fall into this trap that you can not travel without some silly gadget that will probably only not work, you have wasted money that you can use to buy a nice memento.

Europe – It’s Not Just For Daydreams Anymore

A Guide on Planning a European Vacation

Ah, the magic of Ireland. The history of London. The highlands of Scotland. You’ve heard of them for years, seen them in the tourist commercials, and heard about them in the music. Yet you have never yet visited these dreams. And why not?

It’s too expensive, you say. I could never afford a trip to Europe.

Less expensive than a week at Disneyworld, I say! For a two week Ireland vacation in summer (2006), including airfare, rental car, B&B accommodation and trip insurance, I spent about $1600. Yes, that’s it. Now, that doesn’t include food or souvenirs, of course, but it did include a wonderful vacation to a magical place.

So, how do you get such a deal? Well, it takes patience, research, and the ability to make decisions when you need to. I will take you through, step-by-step, how to get the best deal for a European vacation.

DECISIONS: Who, What, Where, When and Why

WHO’s going? You? Your spouse? Your children or parents? Your best friend? A huge group of 20 friends (not recommended unless you want ulcers!) This decision makes a big difference in accommodation and transportation choices.

WHAT to do? Are you interested in touring the whisky distilleries in Scotland? Or the abbeys in England? Or the pubs in Ireland? Your trip doesn’t have to have a theme, of course, but it is more fun if you have one – and helps you to plan when your mind is a blank. Perhaps you’ve seen a movie or read a book set in Yorkshire, and want to tour the area? Or you dance and want to learn step dancing in Ireland? The imagination can take flight here!

WHERE to go, of course, depends on WHAT you are doing. It also ties into WHEN you want to go. Since my most recent trip was Ireland, I will use that as an example, but most of my advice can be applied to any destination in Europe, or even beyond. The decision of WHEN to go will be tied into the destination. For instance, Ireland is much nicer to visit in the summer – but also more expensive; whereas Greece is cooler as a winter destination. The days are longer in the summer the farther you go north – and conversely, shorter in the winter, resulting in much shorter days for sightseeing.

Another part of WHERE includes the character of place – towns and villages, or bustling metropolis? London or Kilkenny? Edinburgh or Ullapool? While each city has its own character, they can be overwhelming at times, and aren’t always the best places to stay. A small village used as a base of exploration can be wonderful, and you get more chances to meet the locals.

You might also want to think about WHY you want to go. Do you want to touch the roots of your ancestors? Or experience an ancient culture? Do you just want to get away from the screaming kids? Or make your co-workers jealous? There are many reasons WHY you may want to go to Europe – pick several!

RESEARCH: Find out everything about everything – then throw half of it away

The internet is many things. Addicting, yes; maddening, yes. But it is also incredibly helpful when doing research, especially about places far from your home. Airfare, hotels, cities, beautiful beaches (yes, they exist in the UK) and gloomy castles are all listed somewhere – you just have to find them. The best order of research I’ve found is airfare first, then itinerary, lodging, and finally ground transportation. The airfares available may define your itinerary somewhat, and the itinerary will define the other items.

Airfare:

There is a reason I look for this first. There is a definite season to vacationing in the UK – summer. While many people do go on the non-’peak’ months of July and August, there is indeed a reason why summer is the best. Longer days to see sights, warmer weather, less rain and wind – and more things are open. That also means the airfare is the most expensive, and usually lodging as well.

The shoulder months of May, June, September and October are becoming more popular, as the weather is still nice, and the days aren’t incredibly short yet. However, that also means that the airfares are creeping up as they become more popular. I have traveled to southern Ireland in April and it was beautiful – and inexpensive.

When I’ve decided how much cash I’m willing to sacrifice for a warmer vacation, I start researching my flights. I go to dozens of websites, sometimes daily, to find the best fare. When I got tickets to Ireland in 2006, I found them on Travelocity on a one-day fare sale on Virgin Air. The tickets were non-stop from Miami to London, for $488 including taxes – in June. They were gone within 24 hours, so if I hadn’t jumped on them, I would be stuck with the lowest I could find later – $800 a piece.

Also consider flying into one city and out of another. This is great for Ireland, as you can fly into Shannon, explore the west, and end up flying out of Dublin at the end of your trip. Edinburgh, London, and Glasgow are also considerations for this technique. This is called an open-jaw ticket, and usually doesn’t cost much more, if any, than a normal round trip ticket.

Here are some of the sites I check regularly for discount airfare:

o Travelocity
o Priceline
o Kayak
o Expedia
o ITA software
o Qixo
o Mobissimo

There are others, of course, but these are the ones I’ve used most often. Also don’t forget to check the airline websites; if you find a great fare on Travelocity for Delta, Delta might have it cheaper, and it is usually better to deal directly rather than through a middleman. Also remember not all sites include taxes in their fare quotes.

When you buy your tickets, check out the cancellation policies. Usually, the cheaper the flight, the less flexible the changes allowed. Make sure you are going before you purchase non-refundable, non-change tickets!

Itinerary:

There is a wealth of information about places, monuments, workshops, battles, and other things of interest. Most cities and towns, even villages, have their own website with tourist information. In addition, many travel agent websites have great information for the intrepid traveler. Even more, there are websites dedicated to those interested in travel, with wonderful forums for those odd questions. Some of my favorites are:

o My own site (see link below)
o Fodors
o IrelandYes
o Flyertalk
o Tripso
o SlowTravel
o Lonely Planet
o Rick Steves

Once you have done exhaustive research of the places you want to see, taken notes to places, planned routes around them, and then throw half of it out. Yes, that’s right – you will likely end up with a list of 17 things to see in each city, and you will only have time for half of that, so pick your favorites.

Also, do yourself a favor, and be sure to leave room in your itinerary for free time – wandering around and getting lost, people-watching at a café, or just having a pint with the locals. These are usually the most memorable parts of your trip, leave time for them frequently. You don’t want to end up with an itinerary where you are rushing through things so fast you don’t see them. Michele at Ireland Yes calls that the Green Blur tour. (I suppose a Scottish version would be the Plaid Blur?)

If you’ve got the places listed you want to see, look for a pattern. Are they all close to a couple central locations? If so, pick several places and use them as bases of exploration. Can they be strung together in a large circle? Then spend a couple nights in each place, moving around the circle. Plan wisely, and try to avoid criss-crossing or backtracking. Check driving times between places with ViaMichelin and TheAA. Then add about 20% to those driving times – they don’t take into account UK and Irish roads. They twist, turn, and wiggle, which keeps speeds down lower than the speed limit! You don’t want a day where you are driving 80% of the time, trust me! I try to keep my days to 3 hours of driving at the most, and even that broken up with sites along the way.

Lodging:

Once you have your airfare and itinerary, you know which nights you are going to need lodging for, and where. The UK is wonderfully full of adorable Bed & Breakfasts, and I highly recommend this accommodation choice. The B&Bs in the US tend to be more upscale and expensive than those in the UK, so don’t go by their example. Most B&Bs I’ve ever been in have been comfortable, clean, cozy, and a delight to stay at. They run around $30-$60 a night per person, and include a huge breakfast (more on that later). You will pay higher for city B&Bs, and sometimes shared hotel rooms are less expensive in the larger cities. Do chat with the owners, and get their advice about local sites and attractions.

Hotels, as mentioned above, usually charge by room rather than by person. However, they may or may not include breakfast in the deal, and are usually more cookie-cutter and sterile. They are a place to stay rather than a place to enjoy.

Then you can try the other options, such as youth hostels (not just for youth anymore), camping, caravanning (RV), canal boats, or lodging in old monasteries, colleges out for the summer, etc. There is no end of unusual places to stay. On the Isle of Lewis, you can stay in a traditional black house; near Inverness, there is a converted church set up as a B&B. Get creative!

Once you have decided where you want to stay, make a reservation. Make sure to check the cancellation policies. Most have a day or so required, some a week or even a month. Email is usually an option for communication these days, but some may require a phone call; remember they are at 5pm when it is noon on our east coast, and don’t wake anyone up!

Ground Transportation:

So, you know when, where, and why you are going – how are you getting there? Well, my recommendation for the UK and Ireland is definitely for renting a car. While it is possible to use bus and train to get around, and certainly many people do, you can’t find the little villages doing this, and getting lost on the way is half the fun. If you are in a bus, you can’t make a detour on a whim to go find a hidden castle when you see a sign. You can’t always determine how long you stay at one spot; there is much less flexibility.

Now, I know it is scary to think about driving on the wrong side of the road. It gets worse: automatic transmission cars are twice as expensive to rent, and the manual transmission cars make you shift with your left hand (since the driver is on the right of the car). Confused yet? I remember many times trying to grab the stick with my right hand – only to bang it on the door. However, it’s not so bad – you get used to it very quickly. It helps to have a designated navigator, as the signage on the islands is different. Signs tend to tell you what the next town is, not what the road is called. That means you should know the major towns on the way to where you are going, or even the ones just past your destination.

Many cities in the UK don’t require a car to get around in; in fact, having a car is a liability in Edinburgh, Dublin and London. It is difficult to drive, find parking, and expensive. London even has a toll to enter the city centre! Those cities have a good public transportation system, though, especially the Underground in London, so use those instead. Turn in the car before getting there, or wait to rent it until you leave.

Gas (petrol) is very expensive over there. It is running around $8 a gallon right now. Yes, really! The good news is their engines run much more efficiently, and you can usually get around 45 mpg from them. However, filling up a tank can still run you $100! Budget accordingly.

I’ve gotten decent deals from AutoEurope (a rental agent, you will end up with a company like Enterprise or Europcar for the actual rental) and from Dan Dooley. I would advise against renting from a place you’ve never heard of, cars can be very expensive – and it is difficult to fight a fraudulent damage claim from overseas. Do be aware that most credit card insurances do NOT cover Ireland, so you will likely be required to purchase expensive CDW insurance for such a rental.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

OK, you’ve done your research, gotten your tickets, your reservations for lodging, and your car rental. Ready to go? Not yet!

Trip Insurance

You break your leg the week before the trip. Ruined! All your money lost! Not so, grasshopper – if you bought the proper trip insurance. Go to Insure My Trip and compare the benefits of different packages. Find out if your health insurance will cover you on foreign soil. Find out if you need medical evacuation, trip cancellation in case of medical emergency, etc. Compare the benefits, and find one that fits right. For a small investment, you get a great deal of peace of mind.

Paperwork, money, etc.

This should be taken care of before you even get the tickets, but everyone procrastinates. My husband ended up getting his passport the day before we flew out – we were very nervous! Normal processing time for a new passport is six weeks, but please give it plenty of leeway (especially if you’ve already bought non-refundable tickets!).

US citizens don’t need visas for short visits to the UK or Ireland, but if you are going somewhere else, do read up on the requirements long before your flight, and make sure all paperwork is in order.

Right now, the UK is on the Pound Sterling and Ireland is on the Euro. I recommend going to your bank and getting a couple hundred dollars to start out with, and getting more during your vacation from the ATM machine, and/or using your credit card. Shop around for a card with a good rate – many (Capital One is one of the few that don’t) add on an extra 3% for any foreign transaction, in addition to the 1% Visa/MC charges. You don’t want to carry too much with you, but some B&Bs require cash, and some require prepayment.

Packing

Sure, you’ve packed dozens of times for vacations. What’s the big deal? Well, the new flight carry-on restrictions, for one. Transatlantic flights have new rules, and it behooves you to know them before you are waiting in the security line for your flight.

Carry-on: Most airlines have their carry on rules on their websites. Some have weight as well as size restrictions, and the liquid restrictions are fun. Check before you go! Right now (Jan 2007) any carry-on liquids must be in containers no larger than 3oz (100ml) and they must all fit comfortably in a quart-sized clear Ziploc bag. That includes water, drinks, toiletries, even lip gloss. Prescription medicines must be labeled in the traveler’s name, baby formula may need to be tested at the gate. There are several exceptions like this, so check them out.

Checked luggage: Some airlines are now charging hefty fees for overweight luggage, and limit the number of pieces each person can check. Also, any locks on checked luggage can be cut by TSA (airport security). I usually use cable ties to tie mine – if TSA does go into my bag, they will put their own on afterwards, and in the meantime I’ll know if someone else goes into my bag.

Don’t, don’t, don’t put valuables or medicines in your checked luggage!!! Cameras, laptops, anything fragile, anything essential, must go in your carry-on. Of course, this makes your carry-on heavy, so some decision making is sometimes necessary. I also usually put one day’s worth of clean clothes in my carry-on, in case the checked luggage is delayed or lost.

READY TO GO? Don’t forget the smile!

Don’t forget to pack the most important thing for any trip – a great attitude. This small item can make the worst disaster into a hilarious story, can take the biggest lemon and make lemonade out of it. After all, how can it be terrible – you’re in Europe!

A trip to Europe will be full of wonderful memories, historic experiences, and meeting wonderful folks. Whether you get addicted like I have, or are happy with going once and treasuring the memory forever, you will have an exquisite time.

Europe Travel Packages – For Tension Free Touring

Europe is the most demanding tourist hub. It is the most beautiful continent on earth. Nearly 60 percent of the total travel revenue in the world comes from Europe itself. The reason for this is that Europe is the continent that contains various beautiful countries that are rich in cultural heritage, architecture and sight seeing locations. Europe travel package is a way to explore this continent in the most professional way at a very low cost. These packages offer you great deals for traveling to your loved locations.

One can opt for the Europe travel package and visit European countries without and hassles. These packages are a complete deal that takes care of all your traveling needs. It includes tickets, room reservations, food, sight seeing and other facilities that a traveler need during his visit. These packages are designed by the professional travel agents in a very formal way. These packaged tours focus on covering most of the locations with more enjoyment. Package tours are of great value to your money as they are worth taking up to explore Europe.

Europe travel package offers cruises, independent vacations, customized vacations, escorted tours to meet your particular requirement. You get exceptional discounts and also every minute detail is taken care of. These packages are better since they allow you to enjoy your vacations to the fullest without bothering about room or ticket reservation, hiring taxi or guide and many more. These packages offer you a great deal for traveling across Europe.

European countries are vast and full of rich culture and architectures. Europe travel package will give you all the help and a real wonderful experience to any destination you want. The packages are better than the traditional self traveling. Packages design a proper itinerary for a traveler and offer value for your money.

How To Ride the Rails in Europe

Riding the rails in Europe can be a fun and relaxing way to travel from city to city while vacationing in Europe providing time was taken to plan each portion of the trip. Train travel is the perfect way to go if you have a long vacation and are visiting many cities while you are in Europe, however if you are only in Europe for a week and traveling a great distance between only two cities your best bet it to fly.

Like any great vacation there has to be a well researched plan and that goes for the train reservations as well. This is where this information comes into play with tips on how to plan a vacation which includes the rail portion of the trip. Start by asking the question how do I plan my train travels? This can be done simply by starting with a list of questions to ask yourself about the daily activities for the entire trip. These could include things like how long do I want to stay in each city? Which can only be answered by deciding how many activities you want to do there. The next question is how long is the train ride to the next city? Is the next city close enough to have time to go sightseeing once I am there and checked into my hotel or should I leave later in the day and just have dinner once I get there and plan to start my sightseeing the next day.

This may seem a little complicated now but once you start planning your vacation everything will start to fall into place. So Make a check list of things you want to do in each city in order to decide how much time it will take to do everything you want to do there. After doing this you should be able to come up with a realistic estimate of how many days you will need for your vacation. If you have an abundance of days to use the planning will be much simpler then if you have 20 days and it looks like it may take 19 days to do everything on your wish list. If you are like most of us you will be tight on time which makes planning more important. This is why it is so great to have the internet since you can look up everything and avoid being in a constant state of stress trying to figure out how your getting to the next city on your vacation.

The best way to get all the information you need for train travel is to go to Rail Europe which is the main train transportation system in Europe. Their web site is very easy to use and will give you many options to choose from including local and regional rail lines and daily schedules. Rail Europe also has a feature I like a lot which gives you the price difference between buying separate city to city tickets or a rail pass. For example you may be going to five different cities and each city may be only 150 miles apart, if you buy separate tickets for each city they could be 50 dollars each for a total of 250 dollars. After you have selected all your cities and have gotten a price there is an area to click that says rail pass and the system will show you the price of a 5 city rail pass and will be able to see which would be less expensive of the two giving you the option of which to buy.

Often the best value when buying a rail pass is when there is a large distance between the cities you’re traveling to but there is an advantage to getting a pass. A rail pass is good for a certain time period which is normally about a month, so you could go to 5 cities in 5 days with any departure time or take an entire month to go to all 5 cities. So you get a lot of flexibility with a rail pass in deciding when to use it and is great for those who aren’t as organized as they wish they could be. Not to say if you missed your 8 am train by 5 minutes you wouldn’t be able to exchange a regular ticket for the next train because you can, there is just some flexibility with the rail pass.

I recommend making reservation for your train transportation before you leave on vacation so you will have everything you need. I also suggest printing out the train schedule for each days travel just in case you are going to miss your train you will know when the next train leaves. If you don’t want to buy your tickets in advance then at least print out the train schedule showing the departing and destination cities in order to have the schedules to look at.

I really enjoy the train trips I have taken and have a tendency to daydream of what historic events might have taken place on the distant fields I see as the train goes by and others may just enjoy the view and wonder what the people in the villages we pass do in their daily lives. Whatever you do on your trip I hope this information makes planning easier and your trip very enjoyable.