The following travel guide includes traveler tips on saving money including hotel booking, cheap flight booking, food options, sight seeing option etc.
Getting a good inr to euro conversion rate while Traveling in Europe is like a wise investment plan. If you are not wise enough, you lose small yet significant amount of your travel budget. The best thing about traveling europe is euro is acceptable in most of the countries or let’s say euro is the most common currency. Countries like Czech republic, Hungary, Switzerland still have their own currencies.
Convert the currency in India itself:
It’s better to avoid the risk of converting indian rupees to euros in Europe. Convert your indian rupees into Euros before hand. This will save you from carrying thousands of Indian rupees along with you. Another advantage that you get is, in India, you know the authentic currency exchange shops like banks with forex facilities, western union etc. But in Foreign countries, you do not know what is authentic and what is not.
Make Debit card international:
You might not know but most of the debit cards we use in India can only be used at nationalized banks ATMs here. When you take the Debit card abroad, you need to inform your bank about the duration of your stay and you will be using it. If you fail to inform the same to your bank, your bank will block the uses of your debit card if found being used outside India.
There will be many circumstances where your credit card might not be accepted. For example at some of the shops and restaurants. So you will certainly need cash for that.
Taking out cash from ATM? Prefer Debit card:
Now the next question arises what to use to take out the cash from ATM. Debit card or Credit card? Here is a basic rule. For every transaction you do, irrespective of your card, your are charged some percentage by your native bank and also by the foreign bank. Check with your bank for the international money withdrawl rate using your debit/credit card. Charges will be mostly like 3.5% on money withdrawn.
Withdraw heavy amount at once:
If you withdraw small amount many times from ATMs over there, every time you pay some charges for that. So its better to withdraw sufficient amount at first than withdrawing again and again.
Visa, MasterCard or the Maestro?
Visa card is the most widely acceptable card type throughout Europe. MasterCard and Maestro follows it. Try to avoid American Express. First American Express is seldom accepted. Second even if it is accepted, you will be charged very high fee on that.
Cash is the best friend:
Pay in cash whereever you can. Paying with credit/ debit card is equal to doing transactions every time you pay through your cards. So take out sufficient money at once from the ATM.
Where to get the best exchange rate?
First thing you should do is to calm down. Once you arrive at the airport, train station or bus stand, you might see a lot of shops. Do not get tempted. First take a look around at a few shops. Ask for exchange rate and also the charges, if any on top of that. And then decide.Banks, Western Unions and Post offices are the best places to get your money exchanged.
Currency exchange shops will have touts outside offering very tempting exchange rates. Use them at your own risk. I would recommend to never get your money exchanged with them.
Tips for booking cheap and best stay in Europe for Indian travelers
Finding a cheap accomodation in Europe is the second biggest problem for travellers after finding a cheap flight ticket to Europe. Here are some tips and websites which can guarantee you some ease in booking an accomodation in
Look for a hotel which is closer to the bus station/ Metro station:
The closer you are to a metro station, the faster you can commute to any interesting places to see in a city and also the faster you can return to your hotel around mid night without paying a hefty charge to Taxis. I prefer metro
station to a bus because they are faster and their frequency is also more than buses.
Try to be closer to the city center:
City center also known as old town sqaure is always on the list of the “one of the most beautiful things to see”. Basically old town squares used to be main commercial streets during medieval Europe. You can also say that it was
the mail town square from where whole of the cultural, historical and architectural aspects of a city flourished. Another best thing about the old town square is that they get really lively during night. Yellow lights, drinks on the street, many tourists, music, shopping etc all come out. A tourist travelling Europe must see all these including the night life. If you book a hotel far from the city center, you might not be able to see the night street market, food market or go to a near by bar near the old town square. So you might miss many things.
Look for breakfast:
Look for breakfast. Try to know what they offer in the breakfast. Sometimes breakfast is just a mix of bread and juice and sometimes, breakfasts are more than brunch. I always look for buffet breakfast. Eat bellyful around 9’o clock in
the buffet breakfast and you are good to go until the afternoon. This makes you save lunch cost. On some of the booking websites, you can even see the picture of the breakfast.
Advance payment and payement options:
Sometimes, you just book a hotel for the purpose of visa because you want to show the officials while applying for a visa that you have an accomodation before landing into Europe. Later, you change your plan because you want to
stay at different location. So, look for the advance payment option for the hotel booking. Sometimes, you can even cancel the booking just 24 hours before if you have booked the accomodation through the credit card. Most of the
hotels and stay in Europe have accepted payment methods as Visa, American Express, Euro card and Master card. So it should not be a problem to pay the hotel charges.
Hotel Car Parking:
People with their own cars or rented cars should check out for the car parking. Car parking is sometimes free for hoteliers for 24 hours or for the entire duration of stay. But sometimes, you also have to pay for it like 15 euros per 24
hours or something like that. If you are planning to stay with your car, it’s better to look out for the car parking. You might save significant amount of the money if you are going to stay for around a week or even longer.
Check in and check out time:
Look for a hotel which have late check in and extended check out time. This is help you get some time for yourself.
Reception and English speaking staff:
Though most of hotel in Europe will have English speaking staffs. Sometimes, it might also happen that the staff does not speak or understand your English. So, try to figure out about the English speaking staff at the reception. Most of the hotels in and around city center would have english speaking staffs. However, at the peripheral side, it might not happen.
Higher stars are not always good:
Once I booked a three star hotel in Poznan, Poland. The price was also cheaper. Service was great. But the location of the Hotel was at the outskirts of the city. What I mean to say is you might get a better deal with good-rated
hotels sometimes in the outskirts of the city because very less tourists occupy it. So be careful about that. I have also seen that companies which take tourists in packages guarantee high-rated hotels for their customers, which is
true. However, customers are kept in such hotels but far from the city. I do not find this a fantastic idea to travel around.
Services and facilities:
Some people like to use the services and facilities; some just use the least of them. It really depends. But there is no harm in knowing about the facilities in services.You never know when you might need them. These services and
facilities include wifi or WLAN, Smoking room, restaurant, parking, bathroom with shower, bathtub, hair dryer, attached kitchen, iron, city tourist map, hot water etc.
Rating and photos:
Another one of the best ways to know about the hotel is it’s rating and photos. Just walk through the rating and photos of the hotel and you will get to know a lot about it from different persons perspective.
Websites recommended for the cheaper accomodation in Europe:
You can get all the points I have mentioned above. I extensively used hrs.com for my europe trip.
hostelworld.com is a website mostly for students and travellers looking for cheap stay. You might get the options like shared dormitories, shared bathroom, a table fan (No AC), a bed. Hostels provide just the basic facilities to spend a night. These hostels are also much cheaper than hotels. In costlier cities like Amsterdam, Zurich, I preferred hostels over hotels to save money.
airbnb.com allows you to rent someone’s flat or house. The rented house will be more like your personal house. For example you will have privat parking, kitchen, living room, dining room etc. I will recommend this if you are traveling in a group. Also, you get cheaper price if you book for longer stay. Monthly booking is much cheaper than weekly and weekly is much cheaper than daily. So if you are looking to stay for a longer time go forthis website for accomodations in Europe.
Tips to save money on roaming around an European city
I am assuming that you have already gone through the tips on booking a cheap flight to Europe and things to know before booking a hotel in Europe. Next thing you are going to do is to get down at airport or bus station and check in
your hotel. So here are some tips on saving money to roam around in a city.
Since most of the airports are located on the outskirts of the city, you certainly need a transportation to reach within the city and check in your hotel. Most of the European airports have a connecting public metro train or bus service
to the city. The best to know about what train shall you take is to use google map or wikitravel. You can also buy fixed-days valid tickets like ticket for 24 hours or 3 days or even a week at the airport. If you do not want this hastle
directly come over to the hotel with pubic transport.
Next thing you should so is to buy a public transport ticket which you can use for, lets say 48 hours because you are going to stay in the city for 48 hours. Most of these tickets are valid on metro trains, buses and even trams. You
can do commution as many times as you wish to do while roaming around in the city.
Another good thing about the public tickets is that public transports are available almost until the mid night. So it should not be a problem for you to return to your hotel after spending some nice evening in the old town square. Just to make sure which bus or train or tram goes into your area, you should have a fair knowledge towards it.
How to validate the ticket?
Tickets are mostly not checked upon boarding, sometimes a ticket inspector might inspect you. Tickets are usually validated at the box at the entrance of the metro station or inside the bus. You will get to know tht when you will
see many people validating their ticket. Or you can ask at the ticket counter about the same. Once validated, you need not validate the same time and again until expiry. Be sure about the timing of the ticket.
Where to buy the tickets?
You can buy the tickets at the train stations counter, ticket vending machine and sometimes from the tobacco or newspaper shop. Inside the bus, you get the ticket from the bus driver. So when you enter inside the bus, enter from
the front door so that you can buy the ticket from the driver. Even if you do not have to buy the ticket, you still enter from the front door because you need to show your ticket or pass to the driver to prove that you have a valid ticket.
Train/ bus and publich transportation boarding system:
As I have mentioned board a public transport from the front door. Also only stand at the bus station and no elsewhere. Buses stop only precisely at the bus stop. Even if they are standing little away from the bus stop, you would not be allowed to board the bus until the bus comes and driver opens the bus door.
How does daily pass or other passes look like:
Most of the passes are made up of paper with some bar code over them. Sometimes, you also get passes in form of tokens. The system is almost the same throughout the world. Before entering the train or platform, you validate
Travel cards or travel passes are also available. They can be booked online or through sms or can be obtained from the tourist office. The advantage that you get from the travel card is that you get almost like a traveling and touring
package. You get a pass and entry to some of the monuments or zoo or palace is free of cost for you. Make sure what you want to see before buying a travel card. Sometimes, travel card miss some big tourist sites like big Museums or palaces. So double check about the offers mentioned at the travel cards.
Expiry of the passes:
Some passes expire at the midnight. Some expire exactly after the designated number of hours. So make sure when does your pass expires.
Roaming around on bikes/ bicycles:
You can also roam around the city on bikes. Bikes costs around 10 euros for a day. You will also need to submit your passport sometimes and return the bikes at the designated hours.
Roaming around on foot:
Roaming around and see the city on foot is the best option I consider. Most of the attractions in European cities lie next to each other. For example in Prague or in Posen, you can cover most of the attraction situated around the old town square on your foot. You just need to have a city map in your hand. City map can be obtained from your hotel or at the tourist counter free of cost. City maps are marked with street names and monuments. It will be easier for you to navigate around very easily. Try not to roam in unknown area or in odd times like after mid night. Play safe.
Cheap flight booking tips for Indians traveling to Europe
You have already listed out the tourist places in Europe where you want to go. You have also a planned itinerary and list of cities you want to go on to a fixed date. But you do not realize that there is still room to save money. Around 30 to 40 percent of our money is spent just on flights, if we are planning to travel some places.
Variation of flight ticket price going to different known cities:
Here is a case study of how can you save some money on flights while traveling to Europe:
Lets say, you want to visit three famous European cities: Rome, Venice and Budapest. And you are boarding a flight from Bangalore.
Which city you want to go first? Rome, Venice or Budapest?
What some of us would do is to blindly book a ticket to one of these cities. Since Budapest has the shortest flight time of all, you might also be tempted to book a flight to Budapest first. Just to show you an example, I just searched for flights to these three different cities on the same date in future. And here is the result:
You can clearly see the on the same date even if you fly to Rome, longer distance and longer flight time, you still pay almost 35 percent lesser. So what is the catch here?
A flight ticket to an international airport with more frequent international flights and commuters, most of the times, costs cheaper than another famous international airport. So head to a more famous city that lesser known ones.
Variation of flight ticket price on different days and dates:
Most of the Indian tourists who plan a travel to Europe mostly leave India on Friday night or on weekends. This is so because most of us are working and we want to save some leaves by flying on Friday. However, most of the flights departing on weekends cost you more than week days flight. Sometimes, the price difference is also significant, as significant as 3000 to 4000 rupees. And if you are in a group or even just a couple going for honeymoon, you still save money enough to buy gifts and presents.
Different departure time and ticket price:
I have my own rule about the flight departure time from India. This rule also works most of the times.
Flights leaving to West i.e. Germany, Italy, France, Spain, England cost least when boarded in the morning. That means the fights which mostly depart from India after midnight until morning would cost you the least. On the other hand, if you chose to fly with a flight which departs around noon is surely going to cost you more. Scientifically, this is so because due to difference in time zone, a flight which leaves India in the morning, would probably also arrive in the morning in the west.
Flights leaving to east of Indian i.e. Thailand, Vietnam, Singpore cost least when boarded in the night or around midnight. That means the fights which mostly depart from India after sunset and before midnight would cost you the least. On the other hand, if you chose to fly with a flight which departs around morning is surely going to cost you more. Scientifically, this is so because due to difference in time zone, a flight which leaves India in the night, would probably also arrive next morning in the east.
Airlines you choose:
I find airlines localized in the certain part of the world. For example, Air Asia is the cheapest when flown around
South East Asia. Qatat airways, Emirates or Etihad Airways are the cheapest when flown from India towards middle east or even upto Europe. However, some airlines with better service are known to be little expensive like Austrian Airlines, British Airways, KLM Royal Dutch etc.
In a Nutshell, remember four points:
- A flight ticket to an international airport with more frequent international flights and commuters, most of the
times, costs cheaper than another famous international airport. So head to a more famous city that lesser
- Be careful about the flight departure time from India. After midnight until morning is best for West and after evening until midnight is best for east.
- Tickets on week days cost lesser than tickets on weekends on special days.
- Chose you airline carefully. Some are known to be expensive.
Vegetarian food in Europe: Survival tips for Indian travellers
With Vegetarianism upcoming as a recent trend in Europe today, Being a veggie traveller is not any more a worry while traveling around Europe. It’s not that only Indians are vegetarian today, I have many European friends who prefer vegetarian food over nonveg food. Also based on my personal experience of traveling around Europe and being a vegetarian at the same time, I can recommend some tips which should help a vegetarian travellers to survive in Europe without any problem.
First understand the types of food habits in Europe. Unlike India, in Europe, there are three kinds of people based upon their food habit.
Vegan: People who do not use animal products at all. Not even milk or cheese. Just like Jains in India.
Vegetarian: Vegetarian people are those in Europe, who consider milk, cheese and egg as a part of thier foods.
Nonveg: People who are comfortable eating beef, pork, meat etc.
Mention yourself as Vegan:
Any restaurant you go to, mention that you are a vegan. Do not mention youself as a vegetarian. Chances are there that the waiter or the person at the service or counter would understand you. Still, if there is any doubt in conversation, clearly mention that you take no meat of any kind, no fish and no egg at all.
Make bakeries, fruit & vegetable shop and supermarket your friend:
Inside a bakery and supermarket, you will get different types of breads like onion bread, garlic bread, bread with olives and nuts etc. Do not worry. Supermarkets will have a different section for the breads. Take your time and chose one of those which suits your flavor or even you can try more than one variety. Next go to cheese and bread-spread corner buy some bread spread, ketch up, juice, butter etc. and you are good to go. In India, we do not take bread seriously but westerners take bread seriously. So do not feel strange about it. Same with the fruit and vegetable shop. You can find some fruits even cheaper in Europe than in India like green apple, straw berried etc. Love them and relish them.
Google search about the vegetarian restaurants around:
Finding an Indian restaurant or a vegetarian restaurant should not be a problem. However, most of these restaurants would be costlier and also located in the commercial side of the town. For example, a Samosa costs around 6 Euros in Berlin. Chhole Bhature Costs around 10 Euros. So be careful before if you do not want to spend much on vegetarian foods and dishes.
Fast foods restaurants, not a bad choice for vegetarians:
Remember Mac Donalds, Dominos or Pizza hut? You will surely something of your choice over there like french fries, Veg pizza, Veggie Burger. You can also try these combinations with super market and fruit market to taste everything around.
Know the Geographical location of Europe where you are traveling:
Know where are you going to travel? For example in Northern Europe, chances are very minimal for the vegan food while France or Italy, Vegan food can be found very easily.
Love Italian, South East Asian and French food:
If you think the list is over then wait. You can have a variety of Pizza, Pasta, French salads, Rice, South-East Asian restaurants serving rice with coconut milk soup and a lot. They variety of dishes are more than you think.
There are still some dishes like noodles, falafel, Halloumi, Tapas, Spanish tomato rice, Nachos, Batatas, Gazpacho, farro bean salad, fried egg plants etc. which are much tastier and really as sifficient as daal-chaawal in India, Try those. Keep learning about the dishes at the restaurants. I am sure there is much in box than we think.