Summer in Europe: Escaping both the US and Hidden Travel Fees|
You have just graduated and it’s your last summer of relaxation before it’s time to enter into the so-called “real world” (note: it’s not as plot-driven as it seemed on MTV). Or maybe you’ve just been accepted to your university’s Study Abroad program. Whatever your reason may be, you’re finally going to Europe!
There are always pros and cons to being your own travel guide; even if you read multiple Lonely Planet guides and TripAdvisor reviews, you have no idea what to expect until you are physically there. Thankfully, we’ve left no stone unturned-and no fee unhidden– so you can be the perfect traveler and enjoy Europe instead of letting anxiety take the wheel.
Transportation: Eurail vs Airplanes
Option A: Eurail
Spontaneous travelers: this is the mode of transportation for you! With no pre-set travel dates, you choose the time and day to leave for the next European destination. The Eurail offers 4 travel passes for the number of countries you wish to visit. Remember though to buy the Eurail pass before embarking to your European adventure.
a. One Country Pass: Limited to only one destination
b. Regional Pass: Visit up to two destinations
c. Select Pass: Option of 3, 4 or 5 destinations
d. Global Pass: Visit up to 23 countries.
The most popular pass is the Regional Pass. This is the best option for 1 month travelers. You have up to 2 months to use the pass and a total of 15 ‘travel’ days. You also have an option of reserving your seats before you arrive in Europe, however you cannot have flexible dates.
3 ways to skip hidden rail fees:
1. Make sure to fill the Eurail ticket with your name, passport number and departure date for each transiting city. If the departure date is not marked before boarding the train, the conductor will charge you 10 Euros. Carry a pen (never pencil!) and never mark it in front of the conductor.
2. Always carry extra Euros when traveling between cities. Main railway lines will charge a ‘supplementary’ fee ($10 – $50). Interrail/intercity trains also charge a supplementary fee ($3 – $20). You can purchase this at the cities train station.
3. If you are not reserving your dates beforehand, then you must be at your departing cities train station to book your departing time. You cannot book all of your cities at once– only your traveling destination.
(To purchase train passes: head to Eurail.com).
Option B: Airplane
If you take Europe by air, there’s a certain amount of planning ahead that must be done. Firstly: your first arriving destination in Europe must be a major European capital like London, Amsterdam or Paris. These cities are easier to travel to and from because of their more sophisticated and convenient transportation systems to the neighboring European cities.
Generally speaking, the two cheapest and main European airlines to travel on are RyanAir and EasyJet. You may book your flights last minute, but keep in mind Europe’s high travel seasons. Flying may not be the best choice if you are on a tight budget. Unlike the train stations, most airports are located outside of the city, and include extra transport fees going to and from the airport.
Some great websites to look up flights: RyanAir.com, Easyjet.com, Kayak.com (and, of course, Superfly.com– if you have status on several airlines).
What they don’t tell you about European air travel:
1. Many European airlines, (especially RyanAir and EasyJet) are extremely strict about their carry-on luggage. You are only allowed one carry-on bag (whether it’s a purse or a suitcase). Make sure you follow the airline rules on the specific suitcase dimensions and weight.
2. When flying Ryan Air, print your boarding pass 2 hours before your flight. Ryan Air will charge you 40 Euros to print the boarding pass at the airport.