Your Thrifty Travel Tips: 2006
In his Thrifty Fifty travel tips, Rick shares his best suggestions for saving money while traveling in Europe: from staying in B&Bs to assembling gourmet picnics. Do you have tips to add to the list? How do you stretch your euros, pounds, kroner, etc.?
Exhange money for Starbucks card
We were just finishing up our London before Christmas tour and had 20 pounds and some odd change that we needed to exchange. We were making a last-minute airport Starbucks visit when we hit upon the idea of using our leftover money to load a Starbucks card! We did and it worked great down to the last 20P -- with no loss of precious cash. We had a cappuccino today in Dallas using the card and sharing London memories.
Garland, TX USA Sat 12/30/2006
SAVING BY USING HOSTELS AROUND THE WORLD
There is much discussion about room rates and extra fees charged by hostels.
As a frequent visitor to hostels in over 14 countries around the world, I know that the fees vary from one to another.
Some charge additional fees if you are not a member of the International and others waive the fee. I always check the webpage before I book or ask before I register at the desk.
My experience has been that most of the hostels I have used do not charge an extra for non-members fee.
There are several associations around the world and each has its own rules.
USA Tue 12/05/2006
Best value country-France
My opinion is of the western european countries I believe you get the best value in France but not including Paris.UK is now terribly expensive with our poor xchg and while Dollar to Euro is not what it used to be lodging, good food options and terrific sights are more reasonable in France. Note though car rentals are high. Airfare from USA to Paris generally good too. Yes, Portugals food and lodging can be less but the sights are not as beautiful.
USA Fri 12/01/2006
diesel fuel vs gasoline
We were in Austria, Slovenia and Croatia in mid Sept 06. Diesel fuel was just slightly less expensive than gasoline at that time. I think europe is now switching to low sulfur diesel which costs more to produce, hence the price spike. However the mpg differential of diesel vs gas is still real. 40% or so. Also, I have read that with this new low sulfur diesel, the next generation of diesels will get even better mpg. We rented a four cylinder gasoline Jetta in Germany 3 years ago and got mid 20 mpg vs 43 mpg for a 1.9 liter turbodiesel skoda octavia wagon (like a audi a4 wagon)on the Sept 06 trip. Every gas station sells diesel fuel and always buy the highest grade if they have more than one. I highly recommend trying a diesel, as we were very pleased-could not really tell the difference in performance or noise.
Snohomish, WA USA Thu 11/30/2006
Diesel vs Gasoline rentals-NOTE
Just back from France and Great Britain and diesel is NOW more expensive per liter than gasoline. I was surprised as previously my rentals in Italy were diesel and the price was 10- 15% lower than gasoline.
USA Mon 11/27/2006
cash discount vs credit card payment
Many mom and pop type hotels and shops in europe will offer cash discounts of 3-5%, sometimes up to 10% for paying in cash. At hotels, when you made the reservation, make sure they will accept a credit card, then a day or so prior to checking out ask if they will accept a discount for cash. Try to be talking to the owner or manager as they have more incentive and authority to cut a deal. Act hesitant and inconvenienced a little to get the best deal. If you get what you think is a good deal, go for it. Then plan your atm withdrawls accordingly. My experience shows me most hotels will give 4-7%. And it really works many times. Same for shops, where the range is maybe up to 10%. Obviously the key to saving money is having an atm card from your bank that charges no fixed charge or foreign conversion charges. There are many banks and credit unions out there that charge zero for foreign counry withdrawls. A pure atm card (not an atm/debit card) probably offers the best deal.
Snohomish, WA USA Thu 11/23/2006
Oyster Card in London
I bought a 7 day Oyster Card in London for about 22 pounds. I just figured out that in 7 days I rode the tube 26 different times--at 3 pounds a single ticket it really saved money. It's nice to have one outlay of money rather than find cash each time too.
Provo, Utah USA Wed 11/22/2006
Student ID Card
If you have a Student ID Card-USE IT!! They usually don't care if you look like an 19 yr old college student. If it is an educational institution and it says STUDENT, take advantage. It can save you 2-3 euros everytime. And always ask if they have a student discount-it's not always posted.
tyler, tx USA Fri 11/17/2006
I agree with Brian below. Last time I rented a car it was a diesel VW in Stockholm from Rent-A-Wreck.
It was 3 years old and got over 40 miles a gallon and you know diesel fuel is cheaper than gasoline.
USA Fri 11/17/2006
when you book your car rental, request a diesel. the diesel's available in europe today are nothing like your grandma's diesel. They are almost all turbo, direct injected and super quiet. Hard to notice the noise or power difference over a gasoline powered vehicle. The only thing you will notice are the savings, probably saving you 40-50% on fuel costs. We recently rented a scoda octavia wagon (built on audi a4 platform)in vienna and drove about 1200 miles. Four adults and a pile of luggage. Mostly city driving, mountains, 80-90mph average freeway driving. Got about 43 mpg. (we kept track) Absolutely impressive performance, comfort and mpg. I would buy that car today if it was available in the U.S. and I was looking to get a new vehicle.
Snohomish, WA USA Thu 11/16/2006
Walk as much as poss. Stay at a hotel that enables you to walk to many of the museums or your interests. I stayed in Bayswater/Kensington Garden area and walked and saw Kensington garden Park, 3 museums, Harrods, Royal Albert Hall & Kensington Palace. Saved me 2 tube passes totally $18.00. Also the exercise was excellent in relieving museum fatigue.May not seem like much but it equals a pub dinner.
USA Wed 11/15/2006
Buy food at grocery stores or marketplaces instead of on the train or at the train station. Pack extra food in case your trains are delayed.
Ohio USA Sat 11/04/2006
Schmoozing Your Flight Attendant
It pays to chat-up your Flight Attendant! F/A's often call your destination city their "home-away-from-home" and can offer a wealth of local information! Chances are, we've either been there, done that or know someone who has!
Canada Sun 10/29/2006
Booked 2 nights at Edwards Hotel in Paddington on Hotels.com 3-4 months prior to travel. Had to pay for it up front by CC, but was able to book a family room for 4, costing about $40/person US/per night. Rooms were clean, but small. They substituted 2-double rooms ensuite when we arrived, for the same price! It worked out great, as all we needed was a place to sleep, shower, and dress to prepare for 2 1/2 days of sight seeing. You may not be able to get this good a rate without booking out in advance quite a bit. We choose Paddington because of the close proximity of the underground, as well as the train station accross the street. We expected higher prices for Hotel and Food, and found that the Paddington area was quite reasonable.
WA USA Sat 10/14/2006
HR Gold Mine
Check your HR department at your work place , last year I discovered that my company let's us use an "Employee Travel Site" that takes advantage of their corporate fares, on my first trip I booked a Paris Trip for 4 people /9 nights including Air in an apart-hotel a block from Notre-Dame for 1000 USD each (NOV) and this Nov I am going to Venice-Florence-Rome, 1st class Train tickets to Florence and Rome, 3-4 star hotel BK inc, Air from San Diego and a tour in each city for 2000 USD each (the land portion was 1000 USD) so ask around you might be missing out on some deals...
Tijuana, BC MX Tue 10/10/2006
Skip the Traveller's Checks
I don't know why (perhaps Amex +/or VISA make it unprofitable for locals) but in Italy virtually no one will accept traveller's checks, or, at exchange spots they hit you with high "commisions" to cash. If you find the central office of a big bank, they will cash for a nominal fee, but you have to use your valuable time searching from one bank to another to find the home office. As for the restaurants or hotels we went to, they wouldn't consider taking them. If you want safety, get a hidden pocket of some type, they are cheaper and much more convenient. ATM's actually converted at better rates than we got when we bought the Euro Traveller's Checks.
Monroe, MI USA Fri 09/29/2006
Converting Euros back to dollars
Here's a thought for those of you returning from Europe with Euro currency. If you aren't going to just hold onto it for the next trip, you could re-exchange it at your bank. However, even better is to sell your Euro bills on Ebay. I've seen 5/10/20/50 and 100 Euro notes selling on Ebay. Winning bids for the 100 note bring $135-137, plus postage. You average bank won't give you anywhere near that. Just a thought.
Tucson, Az USA Tue 09/26/2006
We normally pay our lodging bill by credit card (when allowed). So especially in non-euro countries, at the last hotel in that country on our trip, we always apply excess local country cash to our hotel bill, mindful of taxi fares to train stations, airports, etc. Saves time and saves the cost of exchanging money. At the next country, we just pick up local currency at a convenient and plentiful atm. And remember to dump those ripoff bank atm cards that charge an arm and a leg in atm fees. Even if they have a "global alliance" like BOA. Do you really want to waste your valuable vacation time scouting out one of their bank alliance partners?
We recently returned from a 8 country eastern european trip, 5 of those 8 being non-euro and outside of returning with about 140 euros, maybe had $1 in non-euro coins with us.
Except for hotels and car rental, everything was paid for in cash via ATM's. Amount I paid in ATM fees for about 15 withdrawls? zero. Amount I paid in foreign transaction fees by my ATM card withdrawls or credit card payments? zero. Number of problems I had? zero. Used UFB direct (ATM only card) and Capital One (credit card).
Snohomish, WA USA Fri 09/22/2006
SUPERMARKETS IN EUROPE
I find it surprising that so many large supermarkets have opened in Europe in recent years.
There is hardly a large city I have visited which doesn't have several super markets. Even in E. Europe in the larger cities.
We always visit one to buy picnic foods so we don't have to pay the expensive cost for restaurant meals. We usually buy bread, lunch meat, fruit, nuts and beverages and ask for the nearest park.
All I have ever done is ask someone where a super market is and they will tell me how to find it. If you like to save money on meals that is one way to do it.
USA Thu 09/14/2006
Supermarkets in Europe
Getting breakfast, lunch or dinner at a local supermarket is always a nice, inexpensive experience. Many supermarkets in western Europe, while not as big as US supermarkets, carry all kinds of high quality county specific and European foods. For the price of an average lunch at a cafe you can buy a lot of really good food at a supermarket then bring it back to your room or have a picnic in a park.
USA Mon 09/11/2006
Travelodge UK hotel
check this chain online I just got a 15 pound special, another at 26 pounds no brfast but wow. I stayed at this chain in Ireland and found it to be much like our comfort inns.excellent value and will bring my daily ave lodging rate down alot. I strive for $80 a day not easy in UK.
USA Sat 09/09/2006
READING AND SENDING EMAIL WHILE ABROAD
I see the question asked frequently about cheap access to email.
When I was in Sweden and Finland I learned that the public libraries offer free use of internet services.
Usually one is limited to 30 minutes, but during slow periods the librarian let me use the computer for a longer period.
So I would ask directions to the nearest public library and ask at the informaiton desk about using a computer.
USA Sat 09/02/2006
Budgeting in England
I just spent a week piecing together 8 nights in Bath. Hotels there tend to be expensive, especially for a single. So what I worked out is 4 nights hostel/ymca and 4 nights budget hotel. My average night will cost about $55. With a good (included) breakfast supplemented with grocery snacks and yummy pastys, I should be well-under my $100 per day budget. From Bath there is inexpensive bus (coach) service around the area and into London.
USA Tue 08/29/2006
save GBP and euros
The difference between ensuite(w/shower)and without (down the hall)can be $20 or more ea night.If your budget is tight it is easy to share a bathroom. I found out that most people do not take as much time as Americans do in the shower.Every time I needed the shower it was available. It is no big deal.Besides the $20 is better spent on a ticket to a concert.
USA Wed 08/16/2006
Make Sure Breakfast is included
when you are doing a room search make sure breakfast is included for example the Regent Palace in London is very centerally located (breakfast not included) and about the same price as my secret hotel near British museum (huge breakfast included) breakfast for 2 is about 25 to 30 dollars and may not be convient so if you enjoy the large Brtish heart attack on a plate Breakfast make sure
Bellevue, Wa USA Sat 08/05/2006
CYNTHIA....CHECK WHATS INCLUDED
You are right about assuming extras are free.
On our train ride from Helsinki to St Petersburg we were offered hot tea in our compartment.
No mention of cost until we were about to depart our car.
We were given a bill for $3 US. Neither of us drinks tea and werent interested, except to taste the flavor to compare it with ours at home.
We have had other surprises also like being charged for bread in many restaurants in European countries.
We normally don't eat bread with meals. I expect to pay for wine with meals, but I had to learn not to accept bread.
USA Sat 08/05/2006
Check what's included
Don't assume that things that are included at home are included in the price in Europe. It pays to ask or you may get a bill at the end of your stay that you weren't expecting, for example for beach or pool towels. When your friendly host at the guest house asks you solicitously if you feel like some tea, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a friendly gesture. You'll likely see it on your bill at the end of the week. Probably best to be clear about everything at the beginning. I found that things listed as part of an all-inclusive holiday were not free, just available for you should you choose to pay for it.
Vancouver, B.C. Canada Thu 08/03/2006
Blackpool Pleasure Beach: Money Off
If any Amusement Park lovers amongst you are thinking of visiting The Pleasure Beach at Blackpool during July and August 2006 (Blackpool has to be seen to be believed) then I would advise to book an ALL DAY RIDE WRISTBAND (which includes a show) online at
Doing it this way will cost you £15 as opposed to the usual £29 if you turn up on the day
(I presume this offer is open to non UK residents)
I would also advise you to keep checking the National Papers for 2 for 1 offers for many UK attractions...particularly at this time of year.
Liverpool , UK Fri 07/14/2006
Spending strategies in England
Your biggest expenses are likely to be the air and hotel. Sign up for email from the airlines. That way you'll be tipped off when they run specials. BA's site lets you see the fares for a 2 week period. Changing from our planned Thursday flight to a Wednesday one saved us more than enough to spend the extra day there.
We knew we wanted to stay in the Marriott's at County Hall because of the location, air conditioning, and because the rooms are large enough for our kids to share the room. We signed up for their email newsletters and were then able to get really bargain rates - for London- on the weekends. The overall cost wasn't much more than if we had had 2 non-airconditioned rooms at the Premier Travel Inn in the same building.
Hitting Mickey D's for breakfast was just fine for the weekday mornings when our hotel rate did not include breakfast. The McD in the County Hall building has a few tables outside overlooking the Thames. I wouldn't try this after 9:30 am as the area starts filling up with tourists, but at 8 am when they open, you have the outdoor tables and that fabulous view - Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey- all to yourself.
Lots of people have mentioned the take away "sarnies", sandwiches from M&S and Pret. Almost as good, easy to find, and probably a slightly lower price, are the Tesco Express locations near the large tube stations. These are really busy at the lunch hour as they fill up with locals who dash in on their lunch hours. The line moves fast, so don't dawdle! This is also a good choice for buying water. Tesco's 86 pence was the lowest we found anywhere. Our teenager enjoyed making a Tesco run at the end of the day to bring back water, juice, or soda to chillin our brought from home plastic freezer bag filled with hotel ice. We made the mistake of buying a package of their half dipped chocolate cookies. Ended up taking home another 4 pakages of them. Really tasty and under L2 GBS each.
And don't forget - tipping is lower there. Prices for meals, not taking the exchange rate into consideration, were comparable or somewhat lower than equivalent meals around our home in the Bay Area of California. And most restaurants include the 12 1/2% "grat" to which you can add a little more if you are so inclined, still less than the 15 -20% customary in the US.
We were surprised, however, at the practice of tipping guides. The commercial city bus tours, Tower of London Yeoman Warder, Thames boat to Greenwich, all were "voluntary" tipping situations. Some of these were really excellent spiels and some were truly awful - bathroom humor and mild profanity.
Our bargain souvenir water color pictures from a Covent Garden stall, L7 each, turned out to need $100 mats and frames because they aren't the standard 5x8's... We saw many streetsellers offering really nicely done watercolors. The beautiful sheets of postage stamps we bought as bargain souvenirs will look just fine in an unmatted clear acrylic frames.
We took a commercial day tour to Bath. Meals seemed to be slightly less than London, but the biggest difference was in souvenir items. The British Heritage shop outside the Bath Abbey had some really nice items. We later saw the same items priced 20% higher at the Tower of London.
Definitely buy the travel passes and take the tube and bus. If you buy a 7 day pass, you can get it on a plastic "Oyster" card at no additional charge. You'll get a 20 or 30% discount on the Thames boat with your card and you'll feel like a local when you use it. To use the buses, it really helps to plan your route ahead of time. "Journey planner" is the govt web site that lets you plug in where you want to go and tells you all the ways to get there, where to find the bus stops, how long it will take etc. Works for the tube, boats, and trains too.
And if you're going to buy some of Rick's really excellent "stuff", check his website. He often has monthly specials. If you are a CSAA member, you will also get a 10% discount if you buy his things, or other people's, at their travel stores. And I think Rick sometimes offers a super discount if you buy his merchandise when he does a live lecture with CSAA. I'd already bought our stuff when I attended one, so I can't say for sure.
Sunnyvale, CA USA Sun 07/09/2006
Renting Car in Ireland
Master Card "World Card" through Citi Bank still covers CDW in Ireland. They paid for over $1,000 of vandalism to my rental car. Great service. No problems. Saves about $20 per day which really adds up!
Mission Viejo, CA USA Tue 06/27/2006
Hostels, Markets, and Free Water!
I recently spent two weeks in Italy and Austria. Planning ahead saved me lots of money. First, I researched hostels and saved bunches of money. (Make sure you read the reviews first so you can plan on a cozy and safe place). One hostel we stayed in in Rome cost about 17 euros per person and another in the Chianti region cost 23 euros per person. Markets were near by at all times, so being in a group of four, we were able to buy food and wine (mostly at 2 euros per bottle)and make it at our place. Eating light and going to markets saved us hundreds of dollars. We budgeted a certain amount and came home $700 under budget. Another way we saved money in Rome was to buy a water bottle and then fill them up when empty at many of the water fountains in the city. The water was crisp, clean, and FREE!!
Mt. Juliet, TN USA Sun 06/25/2006
Europe at a bargain price
Convince your parents you HAVE to go. This is a bargain. My kids are 31 and 34 and in grade 7 we paid that for the oldest to go to Russia and Finland and over $3,000 for our daughter to go to China and Hong Kong, so all these years later you are beig offered a real bargain. Tell them that visiting other countries lets you compare them with each other, but more importantly with your home. You will have a vastly different and broader approach to you surroundings and future education - whether it makes you appreciate your home more, or long for changes is not relevent, it allows you a scale to make the comparison
Edmonton, AB Canada Wed 05/17/2006
Chance to go to Europe
10 days for $2,500? That's $250.00 a day to see amazing, perhaps once in a lifetime, sights! What a bargain! If that price includes lodging and food, it's even a better deal.
The benefits of traveling to other countries and experiencing other cultures cannot be under-estimated. It's both an educational experience, but can be a personal awakening as well. If your parents value your over-all development into a well-rounded, aware, and knowledgeable citizen of the world, they will jump at the chance!
Richmond, VA USA Wed 05/17/2006
I found a RT ticket to Amsterdam from Pittsburgh for a whopping $355!! I booked it through STA Travel. They really help, especially if you are a student. Go to see them in person, as their quotes on-line were much different... and higher.
Pittsburgh, USA Tue 05/09/2006
capital one credit card
My citi-bank am air card charged a 3% currency exchange fee, but my capital one card did not. guess which card i used in Paris??? (duuhhhh)
longview , texas USA Mon 05/08/2006
If you are considering travel insurance, insuremytrip.com quickly returns quotes from a number of insurance companies at once. I bought a policy through them in March. You could probably save more by finding the policy you want on insurmytrip and then buy it directly through that company's website. Also, it seems most insurance company's give bettr benefits if you buy a policy within 14 days of your travel purchase. My health insurance does not cover me outside of the USA and I feel I should be covered.
IA USA Sat 04/22/2006
I booked on American Airlines to Frankfurt, very cheaply. Plus during May American Airlines is giving 10,000 bonus miles to Frankfurt. London is also dirt cheap to fly into. You can then fly on Ryanair or Easyjet cheaply within Europe.
San Diego, CA USA Wed 04/12/2006
We flew Scandinavian Airlines (http://www.scandinavian.net) in February of 2003 for $249 RT each. Every year they have a Christmas special. You need to go onto their sight and get on their mailing list. Around the first of December they will send you an email link. You have to travel between Jan - Mar. This last December some of the tickets were up to $349. But hey.how can you beat that?
Spokane, WA USA Mon 04/10/2006
DISCOUNT AIR FARES TO FRANKFURT
I checked for discount airfares today and found on farefox.com these fares from Dallas to Frankfurt round trip $408 on Air Canada. $439 on Delta and $447 on U.S. Airways. Depart 12 April and return on 19 April. Those sound pretty low to me.
DALLAS, TX USA Fri 03/24/2006
cheap airline tickets for students: studentuniverse.com
If you are a university student or university faculty member and can prove it (scanned in image of student ID, scanned image of class schedule, etc), you can purchase airline tickets through studentuniverse.com. I purchased a ticket from Austin to London January 2005 for $425 roundtrip including all taxes and fees. In Feb 06, I bought a ticket for peak season travel to London and back for $605 including all taxes/fees. There are other student airline ticket websites, but from my experience, they charge more in fees, making a cheaper ticket more expensive.
austin, tx USA Wed 03/15/2006
FOOD AND WATER
Neon: I agree about finding a grocery store. We have visited over 40 countries in the past 20 years and always eat our lunch on a bench in a park or in our room. Eating in a park lets you see the locals at their best.
We usually choose fruit, bread, lunch meat or roast chicken, a soft drink and a sweet. That gives me the variety I like.
By doing that we can spend more for our evening meal. And it is more fun than fighting the cigarette smoke in a pub or sandwich bar.
Some people consider snacking to be cheap. I think it is wise. Most restaurants make the meals too large for me anyway.
DALLAS, TX USA Sat 03/04/2006
On the Cheap.....
I would like to say that by making sandwichs in your room ( and other such spendthrift techniques)..... that yes...you can save a few Euros....but you will miss out on a large part of the travel experience... Why not... as suggested or listed in Ricks Book, Michelin books, etc. .... find the good value restaurants and eat there. Generally the good value restaurants are where the locals are.... It may cost a few Euros more... but you'll have a whole lot more fun, than dining on the sammich.
Tortola, BVI Sat 03/04/2006
The British Museum
If you are visiting the British Museum in London and don't feel like paying £1 for each article to be hung in the cloakroom then go down one level on the stairs that are situated behind the information desk in the main Atrium.
There in the Ford Family Centre you will find lockers to store your garments.
OK there are no hangers and you will have to carry around a small key with you but the £1 is automatically refunded to you when you pick up your coats etc...
Basically its free!!
It all adds up if you have a family..we saved £5.
Liverpool, UK Sat 03/04/2006
One of the best and thrifty things my husband and I did this past summer in London was get a groundlings ticket to a show at the Globe theatre. It was only five or six pounds(about ten dollars) and we were able to stand close and watch an amazing performance of "Pericles". There were acrobatics and quite a bit of comedy in this wonderful recreated Shakespearian theatre. The seated tickets are much more expensive. The groundling tickets are for those who can stand for long periods of time, but it is a come and go as you please, with respect to the actors,of course. We were unable to finish the entire performance, but it allowed us a wonderful glimpse of the theatre without spending a fortune. I highly recommend it.
Houston, TX USA Wed 03/01/2006
food and water
as soon as i check into a hotel and lay down my bags, i leave for a walk around the neighborhood. find a local grocery store. buy a 6 pack of bottled water, fruit(oranges, apples), bread, cheese, chocolate, bottle of wine, and some flowers. now, you're ready for your next adventure.
l.a., ca USA Sat 02/25/2006
Free travel gear, etc.
If free is your idea of thrifty in terms of acquiring travel gear, try signing onto your local freecycle group
Just a Traveller
USA Tue 02/21/2006
Details please--airline, time of year, etc. I'm considering returning to Italy next year.
Los Angeles, CA USA Thu 02/16/2006
Flying to Bologna instead of Rome saved us at least 600.00 on our airfare ticket.
CHANDLER, az USA Sun 02/05/2006
Save on Coaches and Trains in the U.K.
First I have to say that even the native Brits found my Rick Steves guide useful! So thanks for helping me plan the trip and learning what to expect.
My traveling partner was a friend who lives in London. We traveled to Portsmouth for the celebrations around the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar. We had originally planned to take a train, but I went on the National Express (coach) site and found a "Fun Fare" for £1 each way for each of us. Couldn't beat that. The bus trip wasn't too painful; it took about two and a half hours and I napped most of the way down, as we traveled in late afternoon/early evening and it was dark, and on the way back to London I really enjoyed seeing all the little villages that we stopped at.
When we arrived in Portsmouth, we asked the driver for directions to our hotel, and he was at the end of his run, so rather than try to give us directions he just dropped us off at the hotel--service above and beyond the call of duty! To get the good prices, look for Fun Fares on the National Express site. I was able to book the tickets online from the U.S., no problem; of course, you have to have a set itinerary and buy the tickets in advance. The Fun Fares are e-tickets only, so I printed out two copies of the ticket page and buried one in my suitcase in case I lost the original.
Portsmouth was great, btw, if you're into the Age of Sail at all--the Victory is not to be missed, and there are other great exhibits. Going by train, and starting early, it might be doable as a day trip out of London, though we were there for four nights. Greenwich is also fantastic for naval buffs and a heck of a lot easier to get to from London! Take Rick's suggestion and use the tube or DLR to get to Greenwich and take a boat back to London.
We traveled to Bath via train. My friend got us Apex advance tickets for £19 round trip each, which was even cheaper than the coach! Again, you have to buy in advance and have a set itinerary. I think she got the tickets a month or so before we went. The train is a fabulous way to travel in the U.K. You still get to see the countryside and it's fast and comfortable, even in standard class. I was sad that they didn't have the compartmented trains anymore like in old Agatha Christie films, though. :-) Loved Bath, and we're already planning a return visit. Thanks Rick!
Philadelphia, PA USA Tue 01/24/2006
If you are a coffee drinker, it pays to get a room with breakfast included. My husband and I figured out that we were drinking about 25 euros worth of coffee every morning as part of our included breakfast. Coffee is the single most expensive item we have seen in Europe,and I'm not sure why, since ground coffee and beans are not expensive in the supermarket. And remember, there are no free refills when you order a cup or kanchen of coffee.
Pacific Grove, CA USA Wed 01/18/2006
Saving on flight tickets
We generally travel to Europe during low season, but this year we decided to splurge and visit Italy in May (our 30th wedding anniversary). Big difference in airfare prices, especially since we usually buy those SAS Christmas tickets for $249-$349. But by flying into Bologna rather than Florence we saved $600! We'll just take the one-hour train to Florence (for less than $40) and should be there in time for lunch!
Spokane, , WA USA Mon 01/16/2006