5 Reasons For A Ski Trip To Europe!

If you are a skier or snowboarder, there are at least 5 reasons for a ski trip to Europe. The glitz, glamour and après ski of the Alps are calling. And some of the great ski destinations of the world are calling – Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, and more.Olympiaregion SeefeldOlympiaregion Seefeld

A European Ski Vacation is as much about experiencing culture, history and alpine scenery as it is about skiing. The full European alpine experience is hard to beat – après ski thermal baths to soothe sore muscles; Italian cappuccino in Italy (after skiing in from Switzerland); drinking beer in Munich after a day of skiing on nearby mountains. A European ski vacation offers a unique experience on another continent with different cultures —and world class skiing!

Here’s 5 points to ponder if you are thinking it’s time for a ski trip to Europe:

  1. Why Europe?

Why not? If you haven’t been to Europe, you have to go (ski season or any season). Almost everything is different – language, cuisine, money, electrical outlets, time zone. And now add the ski specific differences in Europe – over 4,000 ski areas; huge terrain; great snow; incredible lift systems and super long top-to-bottom runs.

Skiing in St. Moritz, Switzerland

  1. When To Go?

Generally speaking, most mountains in Europe open at the end of November and close mid to late April, with a few exceptions.

January tends to hold the best deals for European ski resorts and is less busy than peak holiday times. Most resorts are quiet and more peaceful. Fewer skiers on the slopes means that there are of course shorter lift lines! Prices can be almost double at peak times such as Christmas and New Year, and during the school holidays of Christmas, Easter, and particularly February Reading Week.

If you are going on your skiing holiday during late March-April (with longer and sunnier days), you’ll greatly reduce the risk of poor skiing conditions by skiing at a resort with a higher altitude. Val Thorens, France; Zermatt, Switzerland; Livigno, Italy all fit the bill. As a glacier, Zugspitze is skiable from early autumn until late spring, the highest (2,100m) and most snow-sure mountain in Bavaria, and just 90km from Munich.

Skiing in Val D'Isere, France

  1. Where To Stay?

Choices for accommodation range from traditional Alpine chalets and guestrooms in charming historic hotels to fully equipped apartments. Deluxe and moderate accommodations are available at most ski resorts in Europe. Austria and Italy are known in particular for their great value. If you’re after luxury, there’s no shortage of first-class transportation, five-star boutique hotels and world-class experiences! A few top Europe luxury ski resorts include Courchevel, France; St. Moritz, Switzerland and Cortina, Italy.

Modern ski resorts, (purpose-built ski resorts) are of course perfect for skiers and boarders. Purpose-built ski resorts are situated at higher elevations and have consistent snow conditions. They offer ski in, ski out and true slope side lodging. Think Val D’isère, and Les Trois Vallées, France.

Historic Alpine villages provide both true alpine ambiance and the quintessential Europe experience with skiing. Walk cobblestone streets; eat traditional local cuisine and stay in centuries old chalets. The nearby slopes are typically a short shuttle, train or cable-car ride away. Think Zermatt, Switzerland; Chamonix, France; and St. Anton, Austria.

  1. What To Do? (When You Are Not Skiing)

Many European resorts offer spas, boutiques, bars, restaurants and other off-mountain activities. Resorts near major cities offer city shopping, dining and sightseeing—perfect for a day away from the slopes. For example, skiers in Seefeld, Austria can take a quick 20 minute train ride down the mountain to Innsbruck. Or do it in reverse- stay in the city and travel up to the slopes. Munich can be a perfect springboard to the nearby mountains of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Nearby Wallberg or Alpspitze are great options too. You can ride all day, and then enjoy Munich by night.

SkiEurope- munich2

  1. Ski Terrain, Passes and Guides

Europe is home to thousands of miles of groomed and off-piste terrain, and several resorts are interconnected by lifts and trails. A multi-resort ski pass like the Dolomiti Superski Pass offers 700 miles of Italian Alpine terrain spread over a dozen resorts. The world’s largest ski area, Les Trois Vallees in France, includes Meribel, Courchevel, Val Thorens and 5 more resorts. The Milky Way Ski Area straddles France and Italy and offers the opportunity to ski across actual country borders (and have a croissant in France or espresso in Italy).

A local ski guide is also worth your consideration. An experienced local can take you through little known ski terrain, keep you safe and will have the inside scoop on local lunch spots and après ski parties. A ski guide in Europe packs a ton of value and can go for as little as 250 euros per day.

And at the end of your European ski holiday, you can still have more Europe! Add on a trip extension to an iconic city like Paris, Berlin and Rome, rich in history and culture. Europe ski vacation anyone?

Thinking Of Renting A Car In Europe? Here’s What You Need To Know

Renting A Car In Europe

Renting a car in Europe lets you explore and discover different countries and cultures. Renting a car gives you freedom to travel on your own schedule and time. You can get off the beaten path and get to smaller towns and sights with relative ease. There are potential challenges like “driving on the wrong side of the road” in the UK, different rules of the road and some country specific laws. But it’s all well worth it for the memories and potential trip of a lifetime. Here’s the short list of things to consider when you’re renting a car and driving in Europe.

Renting A Car In Europe? Book In Advance

Ca rental rates vary widely by destination and season. Generally speaking, rates are higher for any rental car company or location if you wait to book. (Especially if you walk up to a rental counter with no reservation). You will save money by paying for your car rental ahead of time. Auto Europe is one of the best options for car rentals in Europe. They’ve been in business over 60 years with more than 20,000 locations in 180 countries. They work with well known car rental companies and provide unbeatable rates on car rentals. You can book your car rental as soon as you book your trip with the option to modify or cancel your booking if your plans change.

Beyond the large highways in Europe, most roads are tight and winding. And parking is tight and tricky with limited street parking and small parking lots. A smaller car, typical in Europe, is the best way to get around and easier to drive. Many cars in Europe are equipped with a manual transmission. If you don’t drive a standard/manual transmission, you’ll need to book early to make sure that you get a car equipped with an automatic transmission.

Renting A Car In Europe

Renting A Car In Europe? You’ll Need Insurance Coverage

With Auto Europe, if you select a basic rental rate your price will include value added tax (VAT), public liability insurance, fire insurance and unlimited miles. If the inclusive rate is selected, it will include everything in the basic rate plus collision damage waiver (CDW) and theft protection for the rental vehicle. I definitely recommend the inclusive rate specifically to have full CDW and theft protection on your rental car. If you rely on credit card coverage or your own car insurance, you may not have enough coverage and/or you may have to pay in full for a claim and then seek reimbursement.

Renting A Car In Europe? You Might Need an International Driver’s Permit

Many European countries—like the United Kingdom and Ireland—recognize North American driver’s licenses. However, other countries—like Italy, Germany, and Spain—require that you possess and carry an International Driving Permit (IDP). The IDP is proof that you possess a valid driver’s license. It also translates your driving qualifications into ten of the world’s most commonly used languages, and allows travellers to drive in over 150 different countries.

You can get an International Driver’s Permit at AAA (U.S.) and CAA (Canada) for a nominal fee, and you only need proof of your driver’s license to apply.

Renting A Car In Europe? Be Prepared For the Unexpected

The unexpected can of course happen anywhere and at anytime. Be aware of what’s covered by the rental car agency if you have an accident or your car breaks down. Most offer some form of roadside assistance in the event of a break down. Traffic tickets and toll fees will naturally be billed to you if you don’t pay locally.

If your rental car is involved in an accident, it is imperative that you contact local authorities immediately. A valid police report is always required, regardless of how minor the accident is. The second number you should contact is the one listed on your car rental key chain. For further protection, take pictures of all the damage done to your rental car and any other parties involved.

Having your cell phone activated for use in Europe is a must for driving directions, destination information and in the case of emergency. A SIM card saves on roaming and data charges while keeping you connected. TravelSIM is my choice because its prepaid (providing cost control), works in over 170 countries and incoming calls and messages are free. Between driving and blog support, I need coverage while in Europe.

Renting A Car In Europe?

Renting A Car In Europe? Find Out the Rules of the Road

The autobahn actually exists in Austria and Germany where the drivers follow a strict code. The left lane is for passing only (most cars will be travelling at more than 160 km/per hour). The middle lane is for the average driver – 120-160 km/per hour. Anything slower is on the right lane.

In the UK, you drive on the left side of the road , and you pass on the right side. There are also numerous roundabouts where you need to know which exit you are taking ahead of time.

Turning right on a red light is not permitted anywhere in Europe, unless there’s a sign that indicates otherwise.

Renting A Car In Europe? Other Things To Know

  1. It’s not a bad idea to buy a traditional paper map as backup. Maps are readily available at gas stations and highway stops. Google Maps or offline maps work but you may not have service or data in remote areas.
  2. Most tolls can be paid by coins, cash or credit card. Some countries like Austria and Switzerland require the purchase of vignettes (driving stickers) that need to be displayed in your front window. They are readily available at gas stations and road side stores.
  3. Getting gas in Europe typically requires that you pay in advance before pumping.
  4. Parking in Europe varies greatly by town and city. Parking can be free, pay via parking meter or require a parking permit. Pay attention when you park or you will invariably get a ticket.
  5. You’ll get comfortable driving in no time. Enjoy the trip, lookout for great places to stop and enjoy the views!

Auto Europe Car Rental

Plan The Perfect German Road Trip

Munich is a city known for Germany’s traditional Bavarian culture and the ideal starting point for the perfect German Road trip. It’s new and spirited population have filled the old city with modern technologies and exciting new cultures. Before you drive off, spend some time getting to know one of Germany’s great cities. Explore the bustling beer halls, historic buildings, and enthralling museums.

When you have had your fill of Munich’s exceptional sights, why not explore the surrounding region by jumping in a rental car and going on some adventurous Munich day trips. By driving through the brilliant Bavarian countryside, you’ll experience some of the German towns, villages, memorials, and castles that many travelers don’t get to see when they visit Munich. You also get to explore the locations in your own time – taking as little or as long as you want.

Get planning with our Munich day trip guide as you follow Neuschwanstein Castle tours from Munich:


MUNICH

Munich Downtown

Start your journey in the thriving city – with its lush green city parks and regular festivals, there’s always something to do in Munich. Lined with buildings that are centuries old, Munich is ideal for history buffs who love tasty beer and delicious local food. What’s more, the large cosmopolitan city is also a modern mecca with a world-famous nightlife and plenty of modern art galleries to explore, as well as a connection to its surrounding Alpine landscape. Try to visit the city around its most famous festival, Oktoberfest, the beer-toasting super festival that consumes that city and fills it with fun and games! (Honestly, everyday is Oktoberfest in Munich – head to Marienplatz in the centre of Munich and grab a beer or 2 and a sausage).

DACHAU CONCENTRATION CAMP MEMORIAL SITE

Dachau Concentration Camp

The concentration camp at Dachau was Nazi Germany’s first ever concentration camp. The prison held over 200,000 people during its 12 years, but since 1965 the site has been a memorial to the devastation of that era and the lives that were lost. Dachau is located close to the city and 30-minute long or two-and-a-half-hour long walking tours are available as well as audio guides. (It’s not an easy tour but well worthwhile).

LANDSHUT

Landshut Day Trip

The picture-perfect town of Landshut is bright and beautiful – with stunning multi-colored houses and a very famous castle. It hosts the Royal Wedding Festival every four years to celebrate the companionship of Bavaria and Poland. Discover the town’s differing architecture, from the Middle Ages to Renaissance-Baroque. There are Bavarian beer halls, delicious local restaurants, and Trauznitz Castle, which dates back to 1204.

HERRENCHIEMSEE NEW PALACE

Herrenchiemsee New Palace

This impressive palace was the incredible vision of King Ludwig – precisely his idea to build an exact replica of Versailles Palace in Paris. The stunning complex of royal buildings is located on an island in the region’s large lake – the Chiemsee. Explore the majestic interior of this fairytale palace, which features marquetry floors, carved panels, stucco marble, and ceiling frescoes. (King Ludwig is also responsible for the ultra famous Neuschwanstein Castle- below).

WENDELSTEIN MOUNTAIN

Wendelstein Mountain

Wendelstein Mountain is probably one of the easiest access points for exploring the Alps in Bavaria. Drive to the base of the mountain, before taking the cable car or train to reach the 6,000-foot summit. Revel in the spectacular Alpine views from the top, where you can also enjoy a warming coffee or hot chocolate in a delightful cabin restaurant or cafe. If you are more of an adventurer take the hiking trails to the top – although you might want to allow more time for this option.

LANDSBERG AM LECH

Landsberg am Lech

Just half-an-hour from Munich, Landsberg am Lech is yet another shining example of a stunning and traditional Bavarian city. On a first glance Landsberg am Lech looks as though it hasn’t changed at all since its creation, with buildings dating back to the Medieval period – including the impressive Mother’s Tower and the Schmalzturm Tower. Visitors can trace the ancient lines of the city by walking the old city walls or learning more about its intriguing history at the Herkomer Museum.

NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

Neuschwanstein Castle Road Trip

The absolutely mesmerizing Neuschwanstein Castle is the moment that those fairytale dreams truly become a reality. The breathtaking 19th century palace is something to behold – and is known for being the real life inspiration for Disney’s fairytale classic “Sleeping Beauty”. Originally built for Ludwig II of Bavaria, the castle has been open to visitors since his death and offers its guests unique views across the Bavarian landscape. Be sure to spend some time exploring the beautifully landscaped gardens here, too. (Allow most of a day for your visit. The parking lot is busy and a 10 minute walk from the base of the mountain. You can walk up to the castle (minimum 30 minutes) or pay to ride in a horse drawn wagon. You’ll also wait and pay an admission to get inside the castle).

Travel Freely and At Your Own Pace

When you are looking to experience the best Germany has to offer, you’ll need a reliable means of transportation. Book an affordable car rental in Munich and you’ll have access to endless touristic opportunities and sites! Compare rates, shop names you recognize and find the best deal. Save time and money with my link to Auto Europe.

 

Tipping in Europe

For travelers, local etiquette is often a concern and researching tipping in Europe or other destinations around the world is a natural step in planning the perfect trip. The good news is that understanding the tipping culture in European nations is fairly straightforward and in general you’ll be fine as long as you follow these handy suggestions for how to leave a tip in Europe.

Below we’ll cover the most common scenarios in which you may feel inclined to leave a tip, and we offer suggestions for how much it’s polite to tip in Europe during certain situations.

Important Facts & Common Misconceptions about Tipping in Europe

International travelers are always concerned with knowing when it is appropriate to offer a tip for excellent service and how to avoid insulting the locals (and also what size tip is considered appropriate in that culture). At Auto Europe we hear questions all the time like “How much is too much should I tip in European countries?” and “Will I insult those serving me if I leave a small tip or don’t tip at all?”

The truth is that tipping etiquette varies from one country to the next in Europe, the same way an “appropriate” tip may differ from state to state within the United States. You may be expected to tip more in New York City than in rural Arkansas and the same is true if you’re at a Michelin Star restaurant in Paris or at a pub in rural France. In general travelers in Europe are not obliged to leave a tip, though in many situations it is polite to do so.

Here are a few facts about paying for services in Europe which can guide you when it comes time to leave a tip:

  • In Europe it is required by law that a quoted price includes all taxes. This means that when a price is advertised, the local merchant expects you to pay that price and no more.
  • Most European restaurants will feature a menu outside for patrons to review before entering. If there is a mandatory service charge this will be posted. If you dine at a restaurant and are surprised to see a service charge or tip added to your bill you should speak up – this is probably an attempt to overcharge you.
  • Many people in the service industry in Europe will hold out their hands for a tip. You are not required to tip these individuals, though if you feel that you’ve received excellent service you certainly can do so.

How Much Should I Tip in Europe?

Here are our best suggestions to adhere to when traveling in Europe, though it’s important to remember that how much you choose to tip is really dependent upon your financial resources, personal philosophy on tipping and the circumstances of the service you’ve received.

Tipping In European Restaurants

Tipping in Europe Restaurants

 

 

 

 

 

When dining in a restaurant in Europe you should expect to tip a bit more modestly than you would in America. If a service charge is included in your bill then leaving a tip is optional. If it isn’t you can often leave a 5-10 percent tip without insulting your waiter or waitress. In many restaurants in Europe a 10 percent tip is considered quite generous and leaving more (while appreciated) will often say more to locals about your cultural ignorance than it will about your generosity. European servers are quite well compensated so any tips are considered a small bonus. Often leaving a tip at a restaurant is a way to make set line the bill more convenient – it’s common for diners to “round up” the bill to a whole number.

As an additional note – when ordering food in Europe you’re really only expected to leave a gratuity when you are served by a waiter or waitress … if you’re ordering food or drink at a counter (at a pub for example) you shouldn’t feel that it’s necessary to leave a tip … even if you would normally do so at home.

If you do choose to tip while dining in Europe a good rule of thumb is to add a Euro or two for each person in your party (this is an easy calculation for travelers to remember … even if you’ve enjoyed a few drinks!). We recommend that if you do choose to tip the waitstaff that you hand them the tip rather than to leave it on the table … especially if you’ve dined at a busy restaurant … otherwise your money may find its way into the pocket of the diners at the next table.

London Tip Tip: In London you’ll often see an optional 12.5% gratuity on your bill. You shouldn’t feel tied to this number, but if you’ve received excellent service feel free to use this rate.

Tipping Your Taxi or Chauffeur Driver

Tipping Taxi Drivers in EuropeA good rule of thumb when tipping your driver in Europe is to simply round up to the next Euro. For example if you have a €15 fare, offer your driver €16. If you have a larger charge for a longer cab ride or airport transfer it’s polite to round up to the nearest 10 (for example if you have a €84 charge you might pay €90).

Extras for Your Driver: We all know that there are times when your driver deserves a bit extra. If he or she has gone above and beyond and zipped through traffic to get you to the airport on time or helped you with some especially large luggage, an extra Euro or two will be appreciated. If, on the other hand, your driver takes a very circuitous route to your destination as a way to up your fare you can skip the tip altogether. If you’ve arranged for a chauffeured tour during your trip in Europe and will have the same driver each day, a good practice is to ask your driver on the first day what a polite amount to tip will be if he provides excellent service during your trip. This gives him incentive to go above and beyond during your tour (he knows he’s working for a fair bonus) and it gives you an idea of what you should offer (though if his suggestion seems unusually high we recommend leaving less … whatever you’re comfortable with and whatever amount you feel your driver has earned).

Tipping Hotel Porters in Europe

If your European hotel has someone to help you with your bags a good rule of thumb is to offer him (or her) one Euro for each bag the porter assists you with. It’s not required, but a few Euros left in your room at checkout is a nice touch and a polite way to thank the cleaning staff.

Tipping European Hotel Staff

Final Thoughts on Tipping in Europe

There may well be other instances beyond what we’ve mentioned here which offer you an opportunity to tip those who provide you with special services in Europe. Whether you choose to do so or not is entirely up to you. Tour guides at monuments or on buses and boats in Europe will often hold out their hands for a tip at the end of their tour, but you needn’t feel obligated to offer them a gratuity unless you’re inclined to do so (you won’t be considered rude if you simply offer them a sincere “Thank you,” and let them know that you had a wonderful time). In general if you’ve received excellent service, offering a tip of a few Euros will be appreciated by anyone, but you should never think of it as being a requirement while touring Europe. A good way to ensure that you’re adhering to local tipping etiquette in Europe would be to speak up and ask at the local tourist information office or speak with your hotel’s concierge. These local travel and tourist professionals will be happy to fill you in on what’s considered polite in the area you are visiting in Europe and it’s a good way to make sure you’re being polite without overpaying.

(This post was provided by Auto Europe)

Where We Travelled

Let’s take a look at today’s travel trends and where we travelled. Where are the world’s tourists and business travelers coming from, and where are we all going? Some of the answers in this graphic from Hipmunk will surprise you. Bet you can’t guess which country’s residents take the most frequent trips, or what the top destination was in the 2010s. Spain and France remain popular as destinations, but where do the Spaniards and the French go when they want a vacation? If Americans aren’t going overseas much, where are we going? This infographic packs a lot of data into a small space. It gives a fascinating glimpse into worldwide travel patterns with a focus on what Americans have been up to for the past forty years or so. Take a closer look at where we’re all going, where we’re coming from, and which destinations are falling in and out of favor over time. Then tweet @thehipmunk and let Hipmunk know where you’re going this year.

Where-We-Travelled

Brought to you by Hipmunk.com