Cheaper European Vacations...Discover How

Over the last few years, European vacations have gotten over 20 percent more expensive for Americans as the US dollars weaken against the Euro.

Those planning for their european vacations will be disheartened by how little a dollar buys. Fortunately, there are a few ways to make up for these lousy currency exchange rate, here's a 3 tips to show you how...

1. Use Rail Europe

In Europe, train travel is much easier, faster and cheaper than it is in the US. You can reach most destinations conveniently, and enjoy the trip and the sights along the way. You can travel from Paris to Venice literally in your pajamas by the train or from Paris to London under the Channel.

Rail Europe sells rail passes for train travel to 17 European countries. These passes allow the holder unlimited train trips during the designated period of up to 30 days on most trains (some special trains may require additional fees).

Passes let you hop on and off the trains during your Europe Tour without buying tickets for each ride. Rail passes often are good for municipal travel in most of the European cities you visit as well.

Some passes have senior or youth versions, and also offer discounts for 2 or more people traveling together. For more information, visit Rail Europe. Its online brochure is an extremely useful guide to all the different available passes and to Europe Tour rail travel.

2. Best Currency Exchange Rate

With the exception of Denmark, Sweden and the United Kingdom, the euro is the legal tender for the 300 million people in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

The symbol for the euro is €. Be aware of the currency exchange rate. Commercial exchange booths in tourist areas are likely to give the worst rates. Add high commissions to that.

I recommend purchasing enough euro prior to your departure to cover taxi, a meal and tips. Chances are you will find a more competitive exchange rate with an ATM.

In my opinion, using your credit, debit and ATM cards while traveling will provide you with the best value in terms of cost, convenience, and security. Withdraw enough to last a few days so that the $1.50-to-$3 ATM charges don’t add up. Make sure you know your numeric PIN. European keypads usually don’t have letters on them.

3. Keep Your Receipts

If you shop a lot, you can get a refund of the Value-Added-Tax (VAT) of up to 25% of what you spent during your european vacation at the airport on your departure.

Important Items to Pack


Always carry your up-to-date passport if traveling internationally. Some European countries require passports to be valid for six months before the expiry date.

Learn how to renew your passport at our passport renewal page.

Also, make a copy of your passport picture (front page) and keep it in your luggage.

If anything were to happen to your passport, then you would at least have a copy of the document. If you are traveling to a country that doesn't require a passport, you'll need an official certified copy of your birth certificate with a raised seal, in addition to your photo ID. The responsibility for proving your citizenship is yours.


If you have chronic illnesses, it is best to have a letter from your physician describing the medical condition and listing all active medications and doses. You should also purchase traveler insurance with extended coverage.

You might want to consider purchasing a travel wallet. It is a pouch that goes around your neck and under your shirt. You may not want to hear it, but pick pocketers are out and looking for tourists to prey on especially in Paris.

Check the travel warnings for your European Vacations

Also copy down this number and keep it with you during your Europe Vacation, 00800 6 7 8 9 10 11 for free advice on your rights as a traveler and any other rights and where to go for help anywhere in Europe.


Americans do not need a visa if visiting Europe for three months or less. If you get a visa for any European country (except Ireland and the United Kingdom) or for Iceland or Norway, also known as the 'Schengen countries', it will automatically allow you to travel freely throughout the Schengen area. There should be just about enough information here to help you have a good time at any European vacations not enough to ruin the surprise!

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