How to Visit Europe and Hit the Ground Running

When you travel to Europe, you want to take advantage of every moment. These tips will help you maximize your time (and money) while abroad.

A trip to Europe can be the vacation of a lifetime. But traveling there involves long and sometimes arduous travel. So how can you ensure you make the most of your limited time?

First and foremost, take an overnight flight and hit the ground running. This is easier if business or first class is on your dance card. Then, a comfortable flat bed is offered. But even in economy seating, there is the miracle of modern pharmacology.

Secondly, once in your European country of choice, 9 a.m. is 4 a.m. at home, at least for those Americans who live in the Eastern Time Zone. A lot of people in America get up at this time—remember the paperboy? So, wind back your clock and arise early stateside time which, of course, is five-plus hours later in Europe. This makes it easy for a 10 a.m. departure from the hotel. What to do during the day? If possible, plan your trip ahead of time. If you know what you are doing at 10 a.m., getting up at 9 a.m. (4 a.m. EST) is easier.

Of course, all friends who travel abroad like to talk about a fantastic restaurant or two on their trip. But, I find in most countries just plain food, even at a coffee bar, can be very good. Additionally, it is less expensive and doesn’t require a reservation. This is real freedom when the aim of the trip is seeing the sights rather than being tied to a food schedule.

Standing in museums can be tiring. That is why they have benches. Taking advantage of the ability to sit down can be refreshing plus an afternoon coffee to keep going. But, even at the end of an exhaustive touring day, walking to the hotel, provided it is not too great of a distance, can add spark to a relationship if with a companion or just be interesting if alone. Additionally, it tires out the body, which makes sleeping five hours ahead of the usual time easier.

Lastly, use the local currency rather than credit card. It is easy to get from bank machines and Rick Steves says this is the most economical way. Then, on return home, there are no foreign charges to rectify. This is quite a perk for the designated person in the family who balances the credit card tally.

And, if you are going to do this often, enroll in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Pre-Check Program. Then, you can slip into and out of the country more quickly. Provided the planes are on time, your trip will be what you anticipated, carefree and without jet lag.

For More: Vacation: Using Money Wisely—Timing CountsAn Option for Your Large Transactions Abroad