Travel Inspiration from Go-today: Our Best Vacation Spots of 2014!

romantic travel to Italy

A view of Venice's Grand Canal

Looking back, where did you travel in 2014?  Italy?  New Zealand?  Ireland?  Iceland?  With 2015 a mere two weeks away, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking of new vacation ideas for next year.  In doing so, it might be helpful to know what’s trending – which international destinations are wowing Americans?  A year in review: it can lend inspiration to what’s just around the corner!

Read on to discover our 10 Most Popular Vacation Packages of 2014, and if you like these cheap travel deals, keep in mind two important points: No. 1: As “Our Gift to You,” until December 31, 2014 we’re offering $100 off any of our packages for your 2015 vacation.  (Not just the ones you’ll see below. We truly have hundreds.)  No. 2: If you like bits of this – and bits of that – and want to add a night there – and switch this for that, no problem; you can customize any vacation package to your liking over the phone (at no charge) with a go-today reservations expert.  Lastly, should you happen to have a group of friends or family members who want to travel with you, remember that we have an entire Group Department solely dedicated to dreaming up wild and crazy travel ideas for groups.   

The Best of Italy

travel to Italy

Piazza Navona, one of Rome's most famous squares

How could any vacation strike out with time spent in the unforgettable Italian cities of Rome, Florence and Venice?  Truth be told, we don’t know which is more fun – Italy’s monuments, culinary scene and multitude of cultural attractions – or the Italians themselves.  Folks who travel to Italy with our Best of Italy package have ten exciting days to soak up some of this vivacious country’s best offerings.  Looking for vacation ideas in Italy that work well with this package? 

See ancient Rome’s most recognizable monuments like the Colosseum, Forum and the Pantheon.  Eat your way through Rome’s neighborhood trattorie and gelaterie.  (Click here to read about some of our favorite things to do in Rome.)  See Renaissance masterpieces in Florence, the incredibly beautiful capital of Tuscany.  Stroll the banks of the scenic Arno River, make a day trip to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or check out Florence’s legendary leather markets.  Wrap up your amazing vacation in Venice, a playground for history, art and wine fans – and the perfect place for a dose of romance during your vacation to Italy.  Take a scenic gondola ride through Venice’s canals.  Visit topnotch art museums, palaces and basilicas.  Travel to the nearby islands of Burano and Murano.  Enjoy shopping in some of the Veneto region’s best streets – home to boutiques, top fashion designers and shops selling some of Venice’s best souvenirs: prosecco, carnival masks, Murano glass and lace.

Paris and Rome

travel to Paris, France

Paris' gorgeous Place des Vosges

We don’t mind saying it – this package is beautifully divided between two magnificent, ancient European capitals.  Both are thousands of years old – yet very much alive and bursting with the quotidian hustle of its locals.  Both Paris and Rome are home to superb historical sites, great museums, entertainment venues and (probably our favorite) out-of-this-world food!  Don’t worry – with all the delicious dishes you’ll be eating, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to burn those calories off while wandering in Rome’s Villa Borghese Park and Paris’ Tuileries Garden, through extraordinary squares like Piazza Navona and Place des Vosges, and along the banks of the Seine and Tiber rivers.  Click here to read about Montmartre, one of our favorite neighborhoods in Paris, or here for general sightseeing ideas in Paris.  After getting to know Rome and Paris’ historic centers, day-trippers have incredible options to consider.  Here are several great ideas for day trips:

From Paris: Claude Monet’s Home and Gardens in Giverny, the Palace of Versailles, Champagne tasting in Reims, Normandy and the Landing Day Beaches and the Loire Valley Castles

From Rome: the island of Capri, the ruins of Pompeii, Tivoli and Its Villas, the ruins of Ostia Antica, and the Castelli Romani 

London, Paris and Rome

Travel to London

A view of Big Ben in the United Kingdom's dazzling capital

No doubt about it – Paris and Rome were absolute destination giants this year with go-today travelers, and they both make another appearance in our London, Paris and Rome vacation package.  We’ve already mentioned a fraction of what one can see and do in those two gems, so we’ll focus now on London, the energetic, cosmopolitan and trendy capital of both England and the United Kingdom. 

While London’s weather isn’t its finest attribute – we promise that it really doesn’t matter.  London has an extraordinary variety of indoor attractions (many of which are free – click here for a list).  We’re talking about some of Europe’s best museums, historical palaces, superb restaurants – you’ll find every kind of cuisine under the sun – and an epic theatre district whose only rival is Broadway. Go-today passengers make the trip to London to see a show, to shop, to visit Shakespeare’s Globe Exhibition, to cruise the River Thames and to see wonderfully important historical sights like the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey.  Popular day-trip destinations from London include Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, Bath, Oxford, the oh-so lovely Cotswolds, Canterbury, Cambridge and Highclere Castle (for all you Downton Abbey fans).  

Paris and Barcelona

Travel to Barcelona

One of Barcelona's architectural marvels: Gaudí's Casa Batlló

Another extremely popular Parisian pairing in 2014 was our Paris and Barcelona vacation package.  No matter how odd your interests may be, there’s something for everyone in Barcelona!  So after taking in all that France’s gorgeous “City of Light” has to offer, head south to the Mediterranean seaside city of Barcelona, the laidback capital of Spain’s Catalonia region.  Barcelona is home to generally great weather, a relaxed attitude, city beaches for romantic walks and lazy afternoons, absolutely delicious Catalan cuisine, fantastic museums, great shopping – and the best modernista (Art Nouveau) architecture you can find in Europe.  This Gaudi wonderland beckons tourists year after year who come to see some of this hometown hero’s architectural masterpieces including the Sagrada Familia Basilica, Park Güell, Casa Milà (also known as “la Pedrera”) and Casa Batlló.  Barcelona day-trippers also frequently head west to cava country and to the region’s famed pilgrimage site: Montserrat Abbey.  Last but not least, we consider Barcelona a pretty great, kid-friendly vacation place in Europe.  Click here to read more on that. 

Madrid and Barcelona

travel to Spain

Madrid's magnificent Plaza Mayor

Madrid and Barcelona couldn’t be more different, and we love both of them.  While Barcelona is many things, elegant it is not.  Barcelona is ancient, vibrant, bohemian, relaxed, artistic and “beachy.”  Madrid is sophisticated, classical and elegant. One houses the wild designs of Art Nouveau geniuses – and the other beautiful baroque and rococo palaces, convents and cathedrals.  If you think you’d like to travel to Spain in 2015, our Madrid and Barcelona package offers the best of both worlds – a fabulous taste of Spain’s two largest cities.

We’ve just detailed above some of our favorite things to do in Barcelona.  For art fans, it doesn’t get much better than in Spain’s capital city.  Folks traveling to Madrid should visit at least one of these three iconic European art museums: the Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Prado Museum and the contemporary Reina Sofía Museum.  Other must-sees include seeing one of Spain’s most magnificent squares: Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, the Royal Palace and Retiro Park.  Madrid is also an ideal base to make day trips to several of the best places to visit in Spain.  We’re talking about cities like Toledo, Segovia, Ávila and San Lorenzo de El Escorial.  And after a fun, satisfying day of sightseeing, many visitors choose to round the day off with an evening of tapas and flamenco in Madrid. 

Reykjavík and Amsterdam

spa and wellness in Iceland

Iceland's thermal Blue Lagoon. Anyone up for a spa day?

Now we know you might be thinking, Iceland and the Netherlands… what a strange combo.  It made the list?  Why yes it did.  Iceland is a recent darling of European tourism – and deservedly so.  Branded a destination of fire and ice, its scenery is unbeatable.  Relaxing thermal pools, magnificent waterfalls, towering geysers, immense glaciers, volcanoes, a bazillion outdoor activities, Viking archaeological sites and the spectacular, polar light show commonly called the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) – seriously, what’s not to like?!  In fact, it’s not even that cold.  Thanks to the Gulf Stream and an abundance of geothermal energy, Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavík is actually warmer in winter than New York City; their sidewalks are even heated!

Another great aspect to visiting Iceland is that it pairs so conveniently with Northern European cities like London, Oslo and Amsterdam.  Amsterdam is a gem on its own.  Truly.  Don’t be fooled into thinking it is solely home to Red Light activities and “coffeehouses.”  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Bicycle-filled Amsterdam houses remarkably beautiful canals, flower gardens and impressive museums like the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House.  From Amsterdam it’s easy and pleasant to make day trips to Dutch cheese farms, charming towns graced with windmills, and to the legendary Keukenhof Gardens (for all our tulip fans).  If you’re looking for two wonderfully different views while vacationing in Europe, this might be the package for you.

Greek Island Hopper

Travel to Greece

Mykonos remains a favorite island for travelers in Greece.

With 2 nights in the cultural mecca that is Athens along with 6 nights on the magical, postcard-like Greek islands of Santorini and Mykonos, it’s no wonder that this vacation package to Greece made our list.  Gosh, how terrible it must be.  Just look at that picture.  It looks like vacationing in Greece is rough indeed.   Who would want to see the ancient Acropolis and then have to sail around the Aegean and deal with these views?  Sign me up.  

Budapest, Vienna and Prague

Travel to Budapest

The Hungarian Parliament Building lines the scenic Danube River in Budapest.

Go-today travelers know that when you plan ahead, it’s amazing how much you can see in just over a week! This fantastic trip is one such example.  Those who travel to Budapest, Vienna and Prague go to enjoy some of Central Europe’s best cultural and historical attractions.  (In fact the historic centers of Prague, Vienna and Budapest are all World Heritage Sites.)  During this unforgettable journey travelers can experience storybook Bohemian castles, Habsburg palaces, renowned museums, river cruises along the Danube, pretty medieval architecture, classical music venues – and amazing pastries!  

Berlin and Munich

Travel to Germany

Bode Museum sits on Berlin's Museum Island.

Germany’s capital city has dramatically evolved in the last 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Today Berlin is affordable, trendy and vibrant.  Its history is extraordinarily rich (hello Kingdom of Prussia!).  Visitors who travel to Berlin have the chance to experience some seriously impressive historical sights like the Berlin Wall Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate and the Sanssouci Palace in nearby Potsdam. 

The second star of this winning package is Munich, the capital of Germany’s southern region of Bavaria.  Munich is a beauty.  It was once the hometown of the powerful Wittelsbach dynasty – and it shows.  Their legacy has left its mark on Munich’s frankly amazing architecture and museums – and on Bavaria’s world-famous castles.      

It’s also worth mentioning that visiting Munich is a cross off the bucket list for beer and car fans, many of whom traveled to Munich with go-today in 2014 to visit local breweries, neighborhood beer gardens, and the highly impressive BMW Museum.  Click here to read about some of Germany’s best beer and wine festivals.  

Amazing Ireland

travel to Ireland

Dunquin Bay, Ireland's breathtaking Dingle Peninsula

Ireland is a country whose best attractions are often natural.  It does have incredible prehistoric and early Christian sites that undoubtedly merit a visit.  However, the star of the show has always been its scenery.  You can’t fully appreciate Ireland without sampling its countryside villages, natural parks and unusual landscapes.  (Why do you think so many travelers want to golf in Ireland?)  This Amazing Ireland package has consistently been a favorite with go-today travelers because it’s ideal for those who want to want to travel to Ireland – with some room for flexibility.  They spend one night in an Irish castle hotel – and four nights in charming bed & breakfast accommodations (with a convenient, open-voucher scheme).  A 6-day rental car (included) allows you to choose which magnificent corners of Ireland you wish to discover.  Many Americans have Irish heritage, and this B&B style trip to Ireland offers travelers a unique, authentically Irish way of experiencing “the Motherland.”  If you decide to add a night or two in Dublin at the beginning or end of your Irish adventure, click here for ideas on what to see in Dublin.

As mentioned, “Our Gift to You” lets you take $100 off your next go-today vacation in 2015.  And that’s per person, so if you’re traveling with someone – you’ll get a combined $200 off.  Dig through our treasure chest of cheap travel deals!  We have over 200 for you to peruse – in over 40 countries.  And remember, travel is important.  It’s rejuvenating.  In fact, we feel as passionately about travel as this gentleman feels about dancing!

Some packages are escorted.  Others are fly & drive.  Sightseeing tours, wine tastings, boat rides, guided museum visits, outlet shopping tours and outdoors activities can be added to a great many of them.  All can be customized online or over the phone at 800-227-3235 with someone from our team – at no charge.  This discounted rate applies now, so for those still struggling with Christmas shopping (you have 7 days left!) consider taking your loved one to Paris, Munich, Athens, London or Venice in 2015.  To receive the $100 off your 2015 vacation package, enter the following promo code: GTGIFT.  The deadline for booking is December 31, 2014.  And be sure to let us know if we’ve missed anywhere amazing that you visited in 2014.  In the spirit of giving, let’s keep spreading great travel ideas around!

The fine print: please note that this promotion is applicable only to packages valued at $1000 per person or more.  It can’t be combined with other promotions – and it’s not valid on group reservations or existing reservations.  All airline-related taxes and fuel surcharges are included.  Prices are per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to change prior to purchase.  Some foreign authorities require fees at arrival or departure that must be collected directly from passengers at the airport.  Airline-imposed baggage fees may apply and may be due at the airport; please consult your airline prior to departure for the latest fees.  Don’t forget to read our Terms & Conditions.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Go-today Team!

 

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Our Favorite Stuff to Do While on Vacation in Paris

vacationing in France

In honor of our exciting, new Parisian Melodies promotion – which pairs Paris with the can’t-go-wrong and utterly romantic cities of Rome, Madrid, Prague, Barcelona, Venice and Florence – today we’re going to spotlight Paris, a dazzling destination known round the world as “the City of Light” and one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations.  What’s our angle?  As France’s capital offers something to every kind of visitor, there isn’t just oneBesides, we understand that everyone doesn’t like to do the same stuff while on vacation!  Why not fine tune your vacation experience to match your interests?  Whether you love gastronomy, art, history, shopping, music, the great outdoors or sports, we’re happy to make suggestions on what to see and do in Paris.  Therefore read below to design your very own Parisian bucket list from Our Favorite Stuff to Do While on Vacation in Paris.

Foodie fanatics

culinary trips to France

Your inner epicure will hit the jackpot in Paris, a gourmet mecca known for its multitude of Michelin-starred restaurants.  It’s not all fine dining though.  Part of the city’s charm is best experienced through its neighborhood cafes, brasseries, bistros and wine bars.  A couple of our favorite spots include the historic Café de Flore and the Blé Sucre pastry shop on the Square Trousseau.  While in Paris, you can check out artisan cheese shops, spice shops and bakeries – or take a cooking class, market tour or day trip to Champagne.  Paris has many lovely parks, so on a sunny day – if you’re looking to picnic (or a “pique-nique” as the French say) buy your fresh food goodies at a bakery, market or neighborhood charcuterie-traiteur for a French version of takeout.

History addicts

Notre Dame Cathedral

Exceeding 2200 years in age, the ancient city of Paris is a wonderland for anyone interested in history, and the Île de la Cité – often called the historical heart of Paris – is an ideal and unbeatably picturesque spot to begin your historical sightseeing.  This scenic island located in the Seine River is home to many of Paris’ best ancient and medieval sights including the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, the Archaeological Crypt and Roman excavations, and the magnificent 13th-century Sainte-Chapelle.  From there, exploring the nearby Latin Quarter is an absolute must for history fans.  Other interesting historical attractions to consider in Paris include the Hôtel des Invalides (the burial place of Napoleon) and the Palace of Versailles.  If you’re willing to make day trips outside of Paris, we wholeheartedly recommend the Chartres Cathedral – a World Heritage Site – the spectacular castles of the Loire Valley and the Palace of Fontainebleau.  Slightly further away, many travelers make day trips west from Paris to Normandy to the D-Day landing beaches and memorial sites.

Architecture fans

vacation packages to Europe

In addition to the attractions mentioned above, other iconic Parisian architectural masterpieces include the Eiffel Tower, the neo-Byzantine Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Montmartre, the incredibly historic Church of St-Germain-des-Prés (6th arrondissment) and the Arc de Triomphe.  Modern architecture fans will be pleased to know that Paris is also the home of several works by Le Corbusier.

For a little romance

romantic cities in Europe romantic destinations in Europe

If you’re not in hurry, Paris is a wonderful place to explore on foot.  For romantic strolls, we’re partial to walks along the banks of the Seine, through the historic Tuileries Garden and up among the charming streets of Montmartre.  Relax in the gorgeous Place des Vosges.  Dine in a cozy restaurant on the surprisingly serene Île Saint-Louis, a small island in the Seine.  Enjoy an evening river cruise when many of Paris’ best sights – including the Eiffel Tower – are illuminated.

Outdoor folks

day tours from Paris vacation packages to France

While the weather isn’t Paris’ best feature, the city itself is something of a museum so while this suggestion is rather urban, it is out-of-doors; we encourage you to take your time and walk as much as you can while in Paris to appreciate the charm and character of its many diverse neighborhoods.  Gardeners traveling to Paris should make the day trip to Claude Monet’s House and Gardens in the Norman village of Giverny.

Music followers

Paris nightlife vacation packages to France

Paris is home to some truly great local entertainment.  Live music – and jazz bars in particular – can be enjoyed all over the city.  Larger venues like the Palais Omnisports de Bercy host French and international musical acts, and in the summer months, the city often hosts many great (and free) outdoor concerts.  Paris is also home to a superb classical music, opera and ballet scene.  And if you’re looking for a return to the Belle Époque days of Paris’ iconic cabaret dance halls, you can get tickets to a show at the Moulin Rouge or the Paradis Latin.

Sports aficionados

sports in Paris

If you’re a soccer fan, try getting tickets to a Paris Saint-Germain F.C. match (you can generally buy them online on the team’s website).  Otherwise, head to a local bar to watch the very popular sports of soccer (football), rugby and horseracing with the locals!  Bars that show horseracing usually display a sign out front that says PMU.

For those of us traveling on a budget

getting around Paris

Paris has a great metro system.  If you feel comfortable navigating the subway, you’ll definitely save a few euros.  At meal times, see if your restaurant offers a “formule.”  Ordering from a set menu (versus ordering a la carte) can offer good value.  Last but not least, if you’re willing to be flexible and wait in potentially long lines, check out the free days at Paris’ museums.  Click here for info.

Shoppers

outlet shopping tours in Paris

Despite being a fashion giant, most Parisians cannot afford to wear designer brands all the time.  While shopping in Paris, you’ll see plenty of high-end shops (on streets like rue St-Honoré) as well as more reasonably priced stores around the Boulevard Haussmann (including the large department store, Galeries Lafayette).  For boutiques, book stores and interesting shops, try neighborhoods like Montmartre or the Marais.  And if you’re really hoping to score designer duds at good rates, sign up for an outlet tour to La Vallée Village.

Art admirers

guided tours of the Louvre

Where do we begin?  Paris is home to some of the best art museums and galleries in the world including the world-renown Musée du Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the more contemporary Palais de Tokyo, the Musée Rodin and many, many more.

For the quirky in all of us

vacation packages to Europe

Paris is also home to several bizarre tourist attractions, with one of the most famous being the bone-filled tunnels of its Municipal Ossuary, commonly called “Les Catacombes.”  Another is the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise, a site which attracts many tourists hoping to see the graves of some of France’s most famous writers and artists.  It’s also the final resting place of some Americans, including Jim Morrison.  And if you’re interested in drainage – then head to the Paris Sewer Museum (Le Musée des Égouts de Paris), which takes you down into Paris’ underworld…  See, there is more to Paris than romance after all!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of our favorite tourist attractions to visit in Paris!  To read our French Travel Guide, please kindly click here – or click here to see all of our vacation packages to France and sightseeing in Paris.  And be sure to check out the exceptional pricing for our new Parisian Melodies promotion, which features the following packages to Paris – and beyond:

*  New Year’s in Paris: 6-night vacation package – from $1199 per person

*  Paris Valentine’s Day Escape: 4-night vacation package – from $1099 per person

*  Paris and Prague: 6-night package – from $999 per person

*  Paris, Madrid and Barcelona: 9-night package – from $1299 per person

*  Paris, Rome, Florence and Venice: 11-night package – from $1399 per person

We want to be honest and clear, so please kindly read the information below:

Customers should use the promo code GTFRANCE100 to receive the pricing listed above.  Please note that the promo code is non-combinable and not valid on existing reservations or groups. These discounted rates expire on December 31, 2014, and New Year’s Eve packages must be booked by December 14, 2014.

Merci et bon voyage!

Posted in Europe, History & Traditions, Travel Explorations, Travel Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Free And Useful Travel Tips For You – From Our Team of Go-today Experts!

best international travel tips

Our go-today office is made up of frequent-flying, travel-loving fanatics.  Several customers have recently asked us to share some of our best travel tips, and we thought – yes, why not spread the travel wisdom?! 

We’ve therefore compiled some of our favorites for you.  While some are obvious, their usefulness never grows old.  Our aim is simply to save you time, stress and money – as well as inject an extra dose of authenticity into your trip!  We hope they’ll prove most useful on your next vacation to Spain, Chile, South Africa, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Thailandor wherever the wind may take you.

 

Packing & Other Pre-Departure Sundries

international vacation packages

  1. Read and print your travel documents – and be sure to take them with you!  This may sound pretty obvious, but we do receive calls from passengers who didn’t realize a printed voucher was needed (for a sightseeing tour, airport pick-up, wine tasting, etc.).  It may seem tedious, but it’s in your best interest to go over all your documents immediately after making your reservation.  
  2. Photocopy your passport – and then give one copy to a friend or family member at home and another to your travel companion.   
  3. When packing, use space-saver bags (or try to squeeze as much air as possible out of any sealable plastic bag).  Unfortunately, we’ve all seen wet suitcases coming off the baggage claim belt… Space-saver bags can help prevent your clothes from getting wet and from being tossed around in flight.  Later during your travels they’re also useful to keep your (highly-precious) clean clothes separate from your smelly ones.  
  4. If you plan on bringing your electric shaver, curling iron, straightening iron or hairdryer – find out which of your appliances already are dual voltage and then purchase any necessary international adapters and converters.
  5. In the event of potential rain or cold weather, instead of packing gloves, hats and umbrellas, buy them as souvenirs when you get there!  That way, you’ll have a useful keepsake and won’t be dragging stuff around that you might not even need.   
  6. Pack a couple of books: one for pleasure and another on the destination you’re visiting.

Flying & Airports

vacation packages to Europe

  1. For winter-holiday travelers, flying in the winter season can sometimes mean weather delays so stay apprised of your flight status before you leave for the airport by checking online and signing up for airline alerts.  Plan for extra time to get to your destination as traffic, parking and lines tend to be longer. 
  2. If you’re traveling with gifts, wrap them after you arrive as all items carried on board are subject to inspection and may be unwrapped at the security checkpoint. 
  3. To save yourself time and hassle at airport security, go for slip-on shoes – and keep the jewelry to a minimum! 
  4. Fully charge your electronic devices (tablets, phones, laptops, etc.) before you arrive to the airport for your return flight back to the United States as per new TSA requirements – or you might end up having to leave them behind.
  5. Pack a little bag of in-flight essentials that you can keep with you during the flight: pen, sweets, headphones, ear plugs, medicine, tissues, book, etc.  You’ll then have everything you need in one convenient place.  Stow the small bag under your seat – that way you won’t have to keep getting up every five minutes to rummage through your larger carry-on bag in the overhead bin.
  6. If you’re taking a particularly long flight, consider wearing compression socks and try to get up regularly and walk around the airplane cabin to avoid deep vein thrombosis. 

Money, Money, Money

vacation packages to Europe

  1. Keep in mind that you can often get the best currency exchange rates right at the ATM when you arrive.  Avoid the currency exchanges in the airports, whose fees tend to be high.
  2. Before traveling internationally, notify your credit card companies that you’ll soon be making purchases from a different country; this way they won’t assume the charges are fraudulent and freeze your card while you’re abroad.
  3. Don’t store all your credit cards, debit cards and cash in the same place (i.e. your wallet) while traveling.  Keep them separated to ensure you’ll still have money should you happen to lose one or become a victim of theft. 
  4. In large, tourist destinations – don’t display large quantities of money in public.  This may seem obvious, but while on vacation people often withdraw enough money from the ATM to last for several days.  Make smaller amounts of local currency easily accessible (for small purchases and tipping), and store your larger bills and other valuables in a safe place like a money belt or the hotel safe.  

Getting Around

Public Transportation in Europe

  1. Public transportation passes are a great and inexpensive way to get around.  Depending on where you are visiting, the same pass is often valid for multiple forms of travel (metro, tram, bus and funicular).  If the pass is based on the number of voyages, you can often share it and “pass back” to your traveling companions.
  2. Don’t leave your belongings unattended in public, particularly in tourist areas.  No-no’s include leaving your luggage outside the hotel’s entrance, your cell phone on a table in a restaurant, and your purse on the back of your chair.
  3. If you’re visiting a non-English-speaking country, learning a few basic phrases in the language of your destination will go a long way.  Not everyone will speak English, and even those who do will appreciate a muchas gracias, bonjour madame, obrigado, bitte, etc.  Perfect pronunciation isn’t expected, so just give it your best! 
  4. Before setting out from your hotel room, familiarize yourself with the area.  Study your map, ask the hotel’s receptionist or consult your guidebook.  It’s easier to steer clear of bad neighborhoods when you know in advance where they are!  If you do get lost and suddenly realize you’re in a dodgy part of town, the street corner is not the ideal place to bust out a map.  Pop into a hotel, restaurant, café or shop and then calmly figure out where you want to go.     
  5. If you plan to travel by train in Europe, find out if your departure station has an information desk.  If so, use it to help you plan your rail journey.  Don’t expect the person at the ticket window to answer all your questions when there’s a line of impatient commuters waiting.  This is especially important in crowded stations located in cities like Venice, Paris and London.  When you know your desired train’s date and departure time or number, whether you need a national or international ticket, whether it’s a single journey or roundtrip and whether you want first or second class, then go to the ticket window.  If you have access to a computer, you can also find out much of this information online before you go to the station. 
  6. Remember that purchasing individual rail segments may prove cheaper than buying a rail pass!  Passes often exclude mandatory seat reservations and supplements when riding high-speed trains.  These costs aren’t necessarily included in the price of the pass.  (Local and regional trains generally do not require them.)  

Sightseeing and R&R (a.k.a. the sweet reason one undergoes everything described above)

vacation packages to Rome

  1. Upon arrival to your international destination, fight the urge to hit the sack and instead go for a leisurely walk around town to defeat jet lag.  Getting your body clock on local time as quickly as possible will make for a much more enjoyable vacation – and your dining and sleeping schedules will match the locals’.
  2. For your must-see, once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing attractions – do your planning ahead of time to guarantee you’ll get in and to avoid long lines. 
  3. That being said, don’t over-schedule yourself!  Leave some free time in there to shop, hang out in a neighborhood café, walk on the beach – or along the riverbanks.  Many wonderful attractions are natural, and culture isn’t only found in a museum.  Give yourself time to take in whatever interests you most – at a relaxing pace.
  4. Traveling can be stressful at times.  (For proof of this, reread what we just wrote about airport security!)  If you know you’ll want a morning or afternoon of pampering, consider booking a superior hotel with a spa. 

Dining

cooking class in Paris

  1. When staking out a restaurant for lunch or dinner, watch where the locals are going.  Small, hole-in-the-wall restaurants can serve up delicious local specialties! 
  2. If the weather is nice and you’re in search of something low-key, stock up on local food products at a neighborhood market and make a picnic lunch.  It’s inexpensive, a chance to try local goodies like freshly-baked breads, charcuterie, cheeses, fruits and wines, and a great way to chill out.  (Isn’t that why we go on vacation?!)
  3. When traveling, it’s easy to forget about healthy eating.  Large meals, drinking and exotic foods can wreak havoc on the body…  During your gastronomic adventures, enjoy tasty, traditional dishes but also try to include some smaller meals that include plenty of vegetables and lean protein.
  4. Eating is cultural, and many cultures don’t eat on the run as much as we do in America.  Therefore, don’t forget to sit and eat (which is also better for your digestion). 
  5. Drink lots of water to keep hydrated!

We hope you’ve enjoyed perusing our handy travel tips!  At go-today, our reservation specialists are experts in planning exciting travel experiences to Europe, Asia, South America, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Australia, Morocco and South Africa.  Should you like to speak with a member of our team, please kindly call us at 800-227-3235.  We’d love to hear from you!  Alternatively, check out our website where you can see popular vacation packages as well as customize a vacation package – just for you. 

Safe travels!

 

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