Tips and Inspiration for your European holiday

 

I was rapt recently when two gorgeous books arrived in my mail box for me to review. Both coffee table books by Australian journalist and photographer, Janelle McCulloch, the books would make an ideal gift for anyone who loves France, or as a special treat for yourself.

International airfares make up a significant part of the cost of a holiday to Europe so it pays to be sure you are paying a fair price. Good value doesn’t necessarily mean securing the cheapest fare but finding the fare that best suits your needs. After many years of booking flights for my European holidays (and to other international destinations), I now have a process I go through when searching for flights which I hope you’ll find useful, too.

When I was having coffee recently with a friend, she mentioned that she was thinking of taking a trip to Europe next year with her husband. We chatted for a while about the various options – coach tour, river cruise or independent travel – and which places she hopes to visit on her four week trip. She then asked me “How much will I need to allow for the trip?

Lately I've been hearing a lot about Home Exchanges as an alternative, and cheaper, accommodation option for travellers. Having never done a Home Exchange myself, the best person to ask was Rosemary Kneipp, an Australian who has lived in France for over thirty years. Rosemary and her husband have exchanged homes numerous times over the years, mostly in Europe, and she agreed to share her experiences and tips with me.

When I was sitting at the hairdresser’s the other day, glazing over the gossipy pages of the women’s magazines, I started thinking about little things like having a hair cut and how we take them for granted. When you’re on holiday in Europe, though, it’s another matter.

If you're tossing up whether or not to take the plunge and book that much-wanted holiday to Europe in 2015 but haven't yet convinced yourself you should, these 15 reasons might just have you booking those flights sooner than you think!

I’m a huge fan of self-catering accommodation when I’m travelling in Europe but there are some occasions when a hotel is a far better choice for me. It may be because I’m only staying for a night or two or because I’m travelling alone and prefer the security of knowing someone is on duty at reception 24 hours a day. Before deciding whether to stay in a hotel or an apartment there are a few pros and cons I mull over.

One question I was asked many times over the years I worked as a travel consultant was ‘why do single travellers have to pay a supplement?’ Firstly, let me assure you that it’s not because tour companies don’t like single travellers! The reason that solo travellers have to pay a supplement on the price of their tour or cruise comes down to the accommodation component of their trip.

I generally put a fair amount of research into choosing my holiday accommodation before I leave home so when the time spent results in finding a real gem, it's all worth it! In order to recommend a hotel or other style of accommodation to others, I need to have enjoyed my stay and found it good value for money.  I'll admit my expectations and budget have increased since my first trip to Europe twenty-five years ago, but despite what I pay for a night's accommodation, if I believe it is good value and I've received friendly, helpful service, and a well-equipped room, then I'm happy to share the details with others.