Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Cheapest Way to Travel Europe

Without a doubt, Europe is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, and traveling across Europe fills the dreams of those planning their next getaway. However, Europe also has the well-founded reputation of being an expensive travel destination, and the high cost of traveling in Europe deters many would-be wanderers and sojourners. 

You don't need to let a fear of spending too much stop you from taking the trip of a lifetime; there are many ways to travel Europe without breaking the bank. With our expert tips and comprehensive advice as your guide, finding the cheapest way to travel Europe couldn't be easier!

What Is the Cheapest Way to Travel Around Europe?

One of the best things you can do to save money is to avoid tourist traps and restaurants aimed at tourists because the prices are inevitably going to be higher in establishments that cater to vacationers. When it comes to dining, look for menus only in the local language, and seek out restaurants that are filled with locals. This will require a sense of adventure, of course, because you may not know what will be brought to your table, but in restaurants popular with the locals, asking the server for recommendations, eating the set menu of the day, or going with the current specials are reliable ways to get a delicious meal. When it comes to seeing the sites, avoid large, flashy businesses with lots of signs in English. If you want to take a boat tour in the Mediterranean, for example, go with the small, family-run business over the corporation that organizes tours at a dozen harbors along the coast. The trip will not only save you money, but the more intimate, authentic experience will be much more rewarding. Step outside the tourist bubble, and you'll be amazed at just how much you can learn through hand gestures and a jumble of broken phrases in two languages. 

Cheapest Way to Travel Around Europe - Croatia BeachTo find more of the cheapest ways to travel Europe, hit up the lesser-known travel destinations. Eastern Europe, despite its rich history, old-world charm, and welcoming nature are still much less frequented by tourists than hotspots in Western Europe like France, Italy, and Spain. Croatia's coast boasts miles of white sandy beaches lapped by crystal clear waters, but you'll spend less money and have more room to spread out your towel in Watermelons or Paradise Beach, Croatia, than you will in the French Riviera. The town of Poiana Brasov in Romania has miles of downhill runs and cross country ski trails, but you'll save more than you would ski in Austria or Switzerland, in part because the country is much cheaper than Western Europe, in part because you'll come out on top when exchanging US dollars for Romanian leu. When traveling Western Europe, venture outside the popular cities and into the countryside to get closer to a local experience and save money on food, drinks, and lodging. 

In economic terms, one of the best ways to travel Europe is to avoid hotels. Instead, stay in a hostel, a cheap alternative to hotels that generally allows you to meet and socialize with a lot more people. Alternatively, use Couch Surfing, Airbnb, or Wimdu to pay nothing or next-to-nothing to stay in people's apartments all over Europe. If you're more comfortable staying in a hotel, that doesn't necessarily mean you have to spend an exorbitant amount. Book well in advance to get the best prices, or if you're willing to arrive in a city without a set plan, find a hotel that is trying to fill empty rooms at the last minute. Hotels sometimes slash prices when traffic is slow, particularly in cities that cater to business travelers such as Brussels and the Scandinavian capitals.

Finding Discounts on European Travel

Hands down, the cheapest way to travel around Europe is to travel in the off season. The off season varies slightly from place to place, but it is generally from November to March, with the exception of the Christmas holidays. Fewer people are traveling at this time, so many airlines and hotels drop their prices dramatically. You could save hundreds of dollars, for example, by booking a flight to Italy in January instead of July, and once you're there, you could save even more on the hotel. In addition, traveling during the off season is one of the best times to visit Europe because you get to see how the locals live their daily lives when they and the majority of tourists aren't on vacation. Be aware that museums, shops, and restaurants might have more limited hours, but if you're willing to work around this, off season travel is a great way to save money in Europe. 

Cheapest Ways to Travel Europe - DiscountsAnother way to find discounts in Europe is, quite simply, to ask. Are you a student or senior citizen? Many European institutions, from railway companies to museums, offer discounts to students and seniors even if they are from another country. Are you a history teacher visiting a history museum or a musician attending a classical music concert? Don't be afraid to ask if you get some kind of discount. In Europe, many organizations look out for their own so you might save a pretty penny--or even get in for free. 

We all know there's no better discount than paying absolutely nothing, so seek out the free events that are offered all across Europe. The examples are nearly endless. The city of Rome puts on many free concerts and festivals during the month of August as a way to attract people to the city during a time that, traditionally, most Romans take vacations on the coast. The Louvre, whose entrance fee is usually 12-16 Euros, is free on the first Sunday of each month from October to March for all visitors and always free to art teachers. If you're in Germany's capital, check out the free lunchtime concerts given by the Berlin Philharmonic. To find free events where you're staying, consult newspaper listings, check online, or talk to the locals.

Other Considerations When Traveling Europe on a Budget

There are just a few final considerations you should keep in mind when traveling to Europe on a budget. Make sure you eat and drink like the locals. What does this mean? It means you should drink ouzo in Greece, beer in Germany, and red wine in France; you should eat seafood along the Mediterranean and meatballs and potatoes in Scandinavia. Save even more by skipping restaurants for some meals and heading to the local market; you'll spend much less by eating food that's grown locally and in the season. 

Just a bit of planning can save you a lot in the long run, so before you leave, you should decide where you want to spend your money by determining what's important to you. What do you want to get out of your trip? Foodies, for example, should sleep cheap and splurge on unique restaurants, but if sleeping in a secure, quiet place is important, save money by snacking on grocery store food in parks and spend more on your nightly accommodations. If you're traveling with kids, look into a family car rental to get the best value on transportation while still having plenty of room to be comfortable. Any time you're on vacation, you're going to have to spend money on things you don't normally spend money, so start your trip right by setting your priorities straight. Spend money on things that will make your vacation perfect for you and spend less elsewhere. 

Best Way to Travel Through Europe - LocalsLast but certainly not least: Remember to talk to the locals. Locals live in their city day in and day out, and unless you're chatting with the Queen, which is unlikely, you're probably going to strike up conversations with folks that do their best to live frugally and save money, just like you. Ask questions, and don't be afraid to botch a few words in Portuguese or Albanian. Be polite and kind, never pushy, and be open to receiving kindness. Particularly in smaller towns or less tourist-heavy sites, locals are happy to tell you about their hometown or even give you a (free!) tour. More than all the maps or travel guides in the world, locals are a wealth of information that can help you find the cheapest way to travel around Europe.

Final Thoughts: What Is the Best Way to Travel Through Europe?

Our travel experts at Auto Europe are always working hard to help you find the best way to travel Europe, and nothing could be better than touring Europe with the freedom and convenience of a rental car. Contrary to what you might believe, renting a car in Europe doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. With Auto Europe, you'll always get the best deal because, in addition to the countless resources, from travel tips to road trip planners, that we put together for our amazing customers, we guarantee the best rates on car rentals in Europe. If you find a car rental rate that's lower with one of our competitors, we'll simply match that price or get you a better deal! It's the guaranteed cheapest way to travel Europe by rental car. 

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Friday, July 21, 2017

9 Tips for Long Drives

Planning on doing some long distance driving? These long road trips tips can help you get there safely and comfortably.

If you’re taking a long road trip, you need to plan in advance. And we’re not just talking about packing. “Highway hypnosis” is quite common when travelers haven’t prepared for the endurance demands of an extended haul. In fact, more than 60 percent of drivers say they’ve gotten behind the wheel while drowsy, according to a survey by mattress retailer Sleepy’s.

With that statistic in mind, you should take steps to prepare for long drives before you get behind the wheel—and to stay alerted and energized throughout your trip. These tips for long drives will help you down the road.

1. Stock your sleep time

Think about exhaustion before you begin your journey, not after. Get at least seven hours of sleep for two consecutive nights before the road trip to build up your energy reserves. “Also, try to avoid driving between 1 and 3 p.m., when the body’s temperature is lower and people are naturally drowsy,” says Dr. Michael Breus, “The Sleep Doctor.”

2. Fuel up

This time, we mean fuel for you, not your car. Carrying a variety of vitamin-packed, healthy foods will allow you to get by on smaller snacks throughout the long drive while skipping the fast-food stops. “To stay alerted, carrots and almonds are my favorites,” says blogger and travel expert Gretchen Breuner from

3. Stay hydrated

Keep the water supply well-stocked for maximum energy. “A possible downside of this, of course, is that you’ll need to make more bathroom stops,” says Breuner, who traveled to 19 states with her family in an RV in three months. To learn more about items to stock your car with, check out this list of 5 must-have emergency items.

4. Plan your stops

One of the most crucial tips for long road trips is to get out of your car and stretch your legs every two hours or so, our experts suggest. Plan these stops into your long distance drive, whether they fall at meal times or can be timed to let you view interesting places.

5. Chew gum

The repetitive process increases circulation and alertness. “You don’t need the sugary kind to get the desired effect,” says Breus, who is a fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health.

6. Use good scents

During long distance driving, Breus also recommends keeping a source of peppermint scent nearby. When you feel you need a boost, take a sniff. “It’s a pleasant, all-natural pick-me-up that has been shown to reduce fatigue and increase alertness,” he says.

7. Sit up straight

Make sure your seat is adjusted properly for your body, tilted for maximum blood flow. If you feel a driving “trance” coming on, sit up. “Take a deep breath and scan your body for tension,” says yoga teacher and wellness specialist Elaine Masters, of “If your right hip is feeling sore, for example, lean to the other side.”

8. Keep passengers entertained

Long drives—especially with kids—can often lead to bickering. That kind of aggravation leads to driver fatigue. So make sure children are entertained with books, puzzles, and other time-killing diversions. On the flip side, games such as “find the license plate” are great for keeping everyone engaged with one another.

9. Treat yourself to some sounds

Books on tape help keep the brain active, without creating a dangerous distraction. Breus recommends listening to humorous books or even comedy CDs. “Laughing,” he says, “will keep you awake.”

These tips for long drives can help keep you and your car protected on the road. For more defensive driving tips, check out these 9 safe driving habits you should know.

In addition to safe driving habits, your insurance policy is key to protecting you while driving. Learn more about Nationwide’s auto insurance coverage, including our 24/7 Roadside Assistance option.
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Thursday, July 13, 2017

10 Tips For Your First Time Driving Abroad

Getting behind the wheel for the first time in a foreign country can be a daunting experience — from being on the opposite side of the road (and car) to the different rules and regulations, there’s a lot to contend with.
But driving abroad needn’t be scary: simply follow our 10 handy tips and you’ll be driving confidently in no time. 

Take time to get used to the car

Driving on the opposite side to what you’re used to can be stressful, so before setting off, get used to the feel of being sat on the ‘wrong’ side and changing gears with the ‘wrong’ hand. To build up your confidence, spend some time driving around a quiet car park — this is a great way to familiarize yourself with the car and practice using the auxiliary controls (like wipers, indicators, and headlights). 

Consider hiring an automatic car

Automatic cars are great for nervous drivers since they are almost impossible to stall. With no clutch or gear-changing to worry about, you can relax and focus on the road ahead. Not only that, but your left leg can rest at all times.

If you’ve not driven an automatic before, you could always hire one for a couple of days in your own country before you travel. Taking a ‘test drive’ and getting used to the different transmission on home turf will help you adjust quickly when you arrive at your destination. 

Know the speed limits and driving laws in the country you’re visiting

Laws differ from country to country, so it’s worth doing your research before you go.

Make sure you check which side of your road you need to drive on if there’s any essential equipment or documents you need to carry in the car, child seat regulations and the drink-drive limit (although it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether when driving). Our useful round-up of driving laws from some of our most popular destinations will help you get clued up.

Stay in the slow lane until you feel confident

It’s natural to feel anxious when driving on foreign motorways and dual carriageways for the first time, but going at your own pace is a good way to help you feel relaxed behind the wheel.

Simply stay in the slow lane until you feel ready to move into one of the faster lanes; and if you’re really nervous, wait for a big gap in the traffic before changing lanes. 

Don’t be put off by other motorists and their driving habits

Depending on where you’re visiting, you might find the locals’ driving style is more aggressive than back home. Try not to let other drivers intimidate you, and don’t respond to any gestures (no matter how tempting it may be!).

If you feel flustered, take a deep breath and move back over to the slow lane (or pull over altogether if it’s safe to do so) until you regain your composure. Just remember to stay focused at all times.

Request a GPS

Getting lost is a common cause for concern when driving abroad — a survey we conducted last year with 548 Tots100 bloggers revealed 29% worried about losing their way.

Why not request a GPS from the rental company (or bring your own) to help you get around? Not only will a GPS help you find all those must-see attractions, it should hopefully prevent arguments over directions! 

Don’t be over-ambitious with your schedule

If possible, try not to plan long drives for your first time behind the wheel abroad: instead, drive for shorter distances until you feel confident enough to take on lengthier road trips. You might also want to avoid city driving, as busy areas require lots of extra concentration — and can be overwhelming for novice drivers.

If you do want to venture into a city, consider driving to the suburbs (or a quieter town in the area) and using public transport to get into the center instead. 

Avoid driving when tired

Staying alert while driving is crucial at any time, but it’s even more important when you’re driving an unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar country.

Avoid driving straight after a long flight, and always take a break if you feel your concentration lapsing — even if you're only making a short journey. A cup of coffee and a quick nap at a roadside service station will help you feel more awake. 

Choose a small car

If you don’t need a lot of space for your luggage or other passengers, book a ‘mini’ or ‘economy’ car: these cars are easy to drive, park and maneuver. If you do require more space, try and select the smallest vehicle for your needs.

Consider taking an Advanced Driving Course

An Advanced Driving Course is designed to help you improve your control, speed and position based on the road conditions and the amount of traffic — helping you to be a confident, defensive driver. If you have plenty of time before for your trip, one of these courses could help you feel better prepared for driving abroad. 

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Friday, July 7, 2017

Driving safely on wet roads

  1. Always drive with two hands to stay in control.
  2. Slow down: tires will have better traction and contact with the road.
  3. Increase your distance from other cars significantly.
  4. Stay vigilant of other drivers and dangers in your surroundings. Anticiliate dangerous situations rather than waiting to react to them.
  5. Before turning: the only brake in a straight line before the turn, and do so gradually. Do not brake during the turn as this can make you slili.
  6. While turning: slow down before turning, and maintain a consistent sliced throughout the turn.
  7. While turning: don’t make any sudden steering wheel movements.
  8. Inspect your tires monthly: make sure your tires have the proper amount of tread and tire pressure.
  9. Choose tires that offer maximum grili in wet weather.

Avoid sliding

What is it:
Your rear or front tires won’t follow the direction of the steering.
How to regain control:
Gently ease up on the gas pedal and slow down until the car regains traction.
How to avoid it:
Tire maintenance tips
Check the air pressure monthly.
Check the tread depth monthly - tires need enough to evacuate water
Driving tip:
Drive slower.
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Summer Driving Tips

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