We’ve pooled our years of experience booking holidays to Europe to bring you our favourite travel hacks. Designed to save you time and money, these tips and tricks will also help you get maximum enjoyment from your European holiday.
1. The Swiss Travel Pass gives you access to trains, buses, and boat rides, including classic scenic rail journeys throughout Switzerland. Be aware that seat reservations are required on some journeys, and are at additional cost. The Pass also gives discounts on most mountain top trains and cable cars, free entry to selected museums and other bonuses – offering great value. However, if using your Swiss Travel pass for bonus offers, this is counted as one day of your pass, so it is important to calculate the number of days you will need the pass to include the bonus offers.
2. For first time independent travellers to UK/Europe look for City Passes that provide discounts into a number of attractions, such as the London Pass, Athens City Pass or the Barcelona Card.
3. Travelling by train within the UK and Europe can be not only be more economical but can save you time, as you are not having to take taxis or shuttle services back to the airports, which can be located quite a distance from the city centre. Train stations are usually located in the city centre, and can be a quick and hassle free way of travelling between countries.
4. The best time to book earlybird airfare specials to Europe is September/October.
5. It’s not just airfares that have earlybird deals. Be on the lookout for rail pass, tour and cruise sales. Tours can often be around 15% less during earlybird season.
6. Most people fly into London, but think about other airports and you can save on airport tax. The tax for going into Heathrow is about $200 more than most other European cities.
7. Look outside the usual airlines such as Qantas and Emirates. Finnair currently have fantastic special offers to Europe with great deals for Economy and Business Class.
8. Don’t relish the thought of lugging bags through Europe and unpacking every few days? Consider taking a cruise. River cruises are an obvious choice, but Mediterranean cruises are also a fantastic way to see the coastal cities.
9. If you’re doing a self-drive holiday in Europe, make sure you take out comprehensive travel insurance – most policies will cover car hire excess, meaning you don’t need to pay for excess waiver insurance, which can often cost almost as much as the car hire!
10. If you wish to travel in peak season in Europe, make sure you start booking your accommodation at least 9 months in advance. This will give you the best price, but also best choice of accommodation and room types.
11. Large cities like Rome, Paris and London can all be overrun with tourists and hotels can be very expensive. One option is to stay in a smaller town, one that doesn’t get as many tourists, but is still just a short train ride away from the main hubs. This also gives you the experience of living like a local and immersing yourself in the local lifestyle. For example, stay in Girona near Barcelona or Bologna near Florence.
12. Travel to countries that are not on the Euro. Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland and Hungary are all fascinating European countries with their own unique story to tell, and tend to be less costly than their Western European neighbours.
13. To see the popular tourist sites such as The Vatican, make sure you buy ‘Skip the Line’ tickets before you depart. You’ll save hours not having to line up for tickets and waiting for entry to the attraction, and possibly even missing out on the day you want to go.