by Rick Steves
generally don't get mugged, but they do get their pockets picked and their
purses snatched, so wear
belt. Everyone should wear his or her own. You'll save money by not losing it.
For comfort, carry only the essential documents and cards: passport, plane
ticket, ATM/credit cards, and extra cash (anything that would be a
time-consuming and expensive hassle to replace -- here's a guide). London teems with
highly-skilled pickpockets. Thieves target
Americans not because they're mean but because they're smart. They know
we're the ones with the good stuff in our purses and wallets. Assume
beggars are pickpockets. Be wary of commotions in crowds and fake police
who ask to see your wallet. When you know the scams, they're almost
ATMs rather than travelers checks. You'll get your cash cheaper and
faster. While ATMs give the best possible rates, they do come with
transaction fees. Minimize these fees by making fewer and larger
withdrawals. Store the cash safely in your money belt.
touristy restaurants with "we speak English" signs and multi-lingual
menus. Those that are filled with locals serve better food for less
money. I look for a short and handwritten menu in the local language
only. Go with the daily specials.
with the season. Germans go crazy for the white asparagus. Italians
lap up the porcini mushrooms. and Spaniards gobble their snails -- but
only when waiters announce that they're fresh today. You'll get more taste
for less money throughout Europe by ordering what's in season.
to European tastes. Cultural chameleons drink tea in England, beer in
Prague, red wine in France, and white wine on the Rhine. They eat fish in
Portugal and reindeer in Norway. Going with the local specialties gets you
the best quality and service for the best price.
country has early bird and "Blue Plate" specials. Know the
lingo, learn your options, and you can dine well with savvy locals anywhere in
Europe for under $10.
save money in restaurants, couples can order a side salad and split an
entree. To save more, request tap water instead of mineral water, drink
the house wine, and skip desserts.
overtip. Only Americans tip 15 to 20 percent in Europe. We even tip
when it's already included or not expected. Ask locals (who are customers
rather than employees of a restaurant) for advice.
save money. $10 buys a fine picnic lunch for two anywhere in Europe.
Stock your hotel room with drinks and munchies upon arrival. You can pass
train rides enjoyably over a picnic meal. Many grocery stores have elegant
deli sessions. Know the metric system for buying produce.
advantage of department stores anywhere in Europe for cheap folk art, souvenirs,
and postcards. Local shoppers eat cheaply at department store cafeterias
and restaurants. Savvy travelers can too.
families, and seniors should ask for discounts. But be warned:
because the USA doesn't reciprocate, many countries don't give their standard
senior citizen discounts to Americans.
with local cash, not credit cards. While credit cards get you a good
exchange rate, many places offering Europe's best deals -- from craft shops to
bed & breakfasts -- accept only cash. But if you do use a credit card, stick with
one that won't charge an
additional 1% conversion fee atop the normal conversion fees, which is a common practice.
any transaction, understand all fees and expenses. Ask to have bills
itemized. Assume you'll be short-changed. Always ask how much.
Do your own arithmetic and don't let the cashier rush you. Smile but be
savvy. You'll save lots of money.