Smart Traveler Tips
A strong US Dollar makes European vacation this year a very good value because of air prices.
But, despite that, there are travelers who expect European prices as cheap as they were 20 years ago. Even after getting a good deal on air and hotel keep in mind that food and transportation is expensive. Getting used to cheaper food in US, it becomes as a big surprise. So, you might look at some alternative packages where prices are included. For example, in Scandinavia we recommend cruises because of the savings operators pass to travelers from negotiated rates. We are always looking for hotels which combine good deal with unique accommodations.
Keep in mind that hotel standards differ from US hotels. People who plan for budget accommodations might be for the biggest surprise. Some people expect American style Holiday inn and get instead something really different. The rooms are small, hotel buildings are often old and for very budget properties you have to bring your own soap and shampoo. Air Conditioning might not be available in cheap hotels. Even if you go for moderate hotels, do not expect them to be like US hotel chains.
We have access to wholesale packaged rates so we can get a good value for you. Try to eat in local restaurants or bakeries as opposed in touristy places. Food street is delicious in Europe and inexpensive. Or buy food in supermarket or farmer market and have picnic. Select price fix menu as opposed to ala carte to avoid surprises. Consider eating big meal of the day during the day and save on your dinner. Consider apartment vs hotel when traveling with families or friends.
In addition to more space, you will also have cooking facilities. Apartments are a good deal if you stay for a week, but short stays are also available.
Our clients raved about apartment we booked them last summer in very expensive Interlaken - the apartment cost for 2 couples was $120 and it had 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and a kitchen. Kitchen they said, was welcome addition since by that time they got tired of eating out all the time. In big cities like Paris or London, it is not necessary to stay in center. As long as you stay close to Metro (Undeground) station, you can get to the center in minutes. And the price difference might be significant.
Some deals still exist: Museums in Paris are half-price on Sunday and admission is free on the first Sunday of the month. In Bern, Switzerland, Swiss parliament tours are always free and very interesting.
Find out in advance when is tour in your Language. For fly-drive travelers, plan with a map and don't plan on covering more then 150 miles per day. Avoid one-night stands, or you won't remember where you were when you get home.