You Are Now Free To Move About Europe
This might be hard to believe, but the United States of America is almost two and a half times the size of the European Union. For the prospective European traveler this should come as great news, because it means you’ll never have to travel very far to have a rich and rewarding experience. From Great Britain to Spain to the Czech Republic, there is hardly another region in the world where you can be in so many different countries in the span of a few days. Once you arrive, you’ll definitely want to keep your boots to the ground as much as possible so you can completely immerse yourself in the local culture and history. But when you’re travelling between cities (and countries) you’re still going to need to rely on some form of transportation. Here are just a few tips to help you quickly and safely travel across the European continent.
Europe is notorious for the difficult and expensive driving tests that locals have to take if they want to receive a license — especially those who live in urban areas where the government likes to limit cars and encourages public transportation. As a traveler from the US this puts you at a distinct advantage, as many European countries do honor American drivers licences. That said, countries like Germany, Spain and Italy require an additional document called an International Driving Permit in order to drive. These can be especially important if you plan to rent a car. IDP’s typically cost about $15 dollars and can be easily attained through AAA or National Auto Club. Even if you’re travelling to a country that doesn’t require an IDP, you will still want to take the time to familiarize yourself with the local driving laws. This guide for the United Kingdom will come in especially handy as you learn drive on the left side of the road.
No other European mode of transportation offers the flexibility and value that rail travel does. You can buy exactly the pass that suits your needs. For about $150 anyone under 26 years old can purchase a Eurail pass that offers unlimited travel between four bordering countries of your choice. If you’re backpacking, the train can be the perfect way to grab a few hours of sleep (and a shower) before you arrive at your next destination. Remember, that you still have to make a reservation for each time you travel, and once you’re on board you want to be extra vigilant of your belongings. Thieves know that the trains are full of foreign travelers with pockets full of cash and won’t hesitate to grab a bag that’s been left unattended.
Since European airway deregulated in the early ’90s, air travel between different countries has become dirt cheap. Several budget airlines — like Easy Jet and Ryan Air, for example — exist to help you quickly move around the continent, which can greatly expand your itinerary even if you don’t have a lot of extra time. It isn’t unheard of to pay 50 to 100 dollars for a one-way plane ticket in Europe, especially if you’re creative and don’t mind a little bit of flexibility. Want to fly from London to Paris? Why not fly to Toulouse for cheap and take the train the rest of the way? The one thing to remember is that European budget airlines operate much the same as their American counterparts. They operate on a very small profit margin so they tend to charge for every single amenity. If you have a lot of luggage and you want a snack, that $65 ticket can very quickly become $150.