Before You Go...
Here is a checklist to consider before you take off for Europe. You'll find that a little advance planning will add to the fun -- and save money and precious time.
When you've decided which country or countries to visit, contact the national tourist
office(s) for free up-to-the-minute news, maps and information. Go to a library or
bookstore for regional and special-interest guides as well as videos. The more you know,
the easier it will be to make up your own "must see/do" list.
A passport is required of U.S. citizens visiting Europe. (Nearly 45 million Americans hold passports today.)
First-time applicants 13 and over must appear in person at a U.S. passport office, or at a designated courthouse or post office. Bring your birth certificate or proof of citizenship, a photo identification and two recent identical "head shot" photos, 2" x 2", and apply well ahead of your trip.
The fee for first-time applicants has been reduced from $65 to $60 for adults (10-year passports). The fee for children (five-year passports) remains $40, but the age has been lowered from 18 to 16 and under.
Passports of adults can be renewed by mail for up to 12 years from issue date. All passports obtained in 1988 are up for renewal. Renewal fees has been reduced from $55 to $40. (Processing time is about three weeks, excluding mailing time, longer during the spring and summer months.)
For passport information, call the State Department's automated and operator-assisted services at 900-225-5674 (35 cents a minute). You can also call the Federal Information Center toll-free at 800-688-9889 (passport information is No. 5 on the automated menu).
Internet: Passport, visa and travel-advisory information is available from the State Department's Consular Affairs site at: http://travel.state.gov. You can even download passport application and renewal forms.
Health certificates are not required for entering any of the countries covered in this
planner (unless you are coming from an officially declared "infected area"). Nor
are they required for your return to the U.S. from these countries.
Visas are not required for American tourists on short-term visits (usually less than 90
days) by any member countries of the European Travel Commission covered in this Planner,
except Turkey. U.S. citizens must obtain visas ($45) before entering Turkey, either from a
Turkish consulate abroad, or at airport and border entry points.
Once you've decided where you want to go and how much you want to spend, consult with a
knowledgeable travel agent. Agents computer systems and industry contacts give them
immediate access to the full range of Europe's offerings, so they can quickly track down
the best deals and book your entire trip.
Although most of Europe lies in latitudes more northerly than New York, warm Atlantic currents moderate temperatures, even in Iceland.
The Alps can be used as a rough dividing line for the continent's climate. To the north, summers are mild, while winters can be cool and damp. To the south, from Portugal to Turkey, winters are mild and summers are hot (much like southern California), with rain most common in autumn and spring. As always, temperatures are cooler at higher altitudes. Take a raincoat or sweater, even in summer.
European countries measure temperature in Centigrade rather than Fahrenheit.
For up-to-date weather information on European capitals, see Practical Information in the individual country's page.
You can check newspapers for weather information on European cities before you go, or call 900-WEATHER, a Weather Channel service that offers updated reports on 900 cities for 95 cents a minute or visit their site at http://www.weather.com.
Here are mean high and low temperatures in Fahrenheit for selected European cities, with a few U.S. cities included for comparison:
The trans-Atlantic air routes to Europe are the world's busiest internationally. In 1997, Americans made nearly 10 million trips to Europe, the fifth record year in a row. Although airlines are flying to more gateways and have steadily added seats overall, many flights on the busiest routes sold out early last year.
So far, high volume and competition have kept trans-Atlantic fares low. On a per-mile basis, they are often considerably less than domestic fares, especially during the "shoulder" months of April, May and October, and the "off-peak" season from November through March (except during Christmas holidays).
The lowest economy fares often carry restrictions and may not be refundable. Your travel agent will help you shop for the best flight and fare for your trip.
European airlines carry more than half of all Americans flying to Europe each year. Board a national carrier and you'll be welcomed by those who know the country best. Also, European airlines have frequent intra-Europe connections (see by plane).
Some European airlines have entered into code-sharing alliances with U.S. carriers to coordinate flights and services.
These can range from fully escorted group tours to simple fly/drive and hotel packages designed for independent travelers. The advantages are threefold:
Packages are also available for many special interests, from archaeology to wine-tasting. Cruises are seaborne packages. Virtually your entire vacation is included in one price.
Your travel agent can explain the great variety of travel packages available.
Young people can take advantage of discounts in most countries.
Many national railways offer youth rates; the Eurail YouthFlexipass is good in 17 countries (see by rail). In many countries, children ride for half fare on trains and public transportation.
There are hundreds of youth hostels throughout Europe, and they are a bargain. For information, contact American Youth Hostels, Box 37613, Washington, DC 20013; (202) 783-6161. The annual membership fee is $25 ($10 under age 17).
The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) issues the International Student Identification Card, which entitles holders to discounts on airfares, at student hotels, dormitories and other lodging, as well as transportation, sightseeing and dining. The card costs $20. CIEE also issues an International Youth Travel Card for nonstudents under 25, as well as the International Teacher Identity card. Further information is available from CIEE, 205 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017; (212) 822-2600.
Older people are eligible for discounts of from 30 to 50 percent for rail and bus travel in many countries. Admission to museums is often lower. Check for discounts with tourist offices here and at city tourist offices over there.
The exact age at which discounts are offered varies from country to country-and sometimes within a country. If you've celebrated your 50th, it's worth asking.
American Youth Hostels (see Youth Travel above) issues ŇseniorÓ memberships to persons age 54 or older; the annual fee is $15.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offers discounts on hotels, car rentals and cruises to its members (membership is $8 a year. Call 800-515-2299. For a directory of discount benefits, call 800-424-3410).
If you wear eyeglasses, take an extra pair and your prescription. If you need prescription drugs, carry them in a tote bag, not checked baggage.
In most countries, pharmacies take turns on weekend and nighttime service. Ask the
local tourist office or the concierge at your hotel. U.S. consulates have names of
As little as possible! Cleaning and laundry services are available everywhere. Replacements can be purchased for most items at reasonable cost. Wash-and-wear items are especially practical.
Try to pack everything into one suitcase and a tote bag. Porter help may be in short supply, and new purchases will add to the original weight. Take an additional tote bag for miscellaneous purchases, carrying clothes to the laundry, etc. Be sure luggage is clearly labeled and old travel tags removed.
Leave a copy of your itinerary, with phone numbers, at your home and/or office.
Make a copy of the opening page of your passport with the number and date of issue (this will speed the replacement process, if necessary). If you lose your passport, report it to the local police and then take a copy of the report to the U.S. consulate for a replacement, usually issued within 24 hours.
Record charge-card numbers (and phone numbers for reporting any loss of cards). The
same for travelerŐs checks and airline tickets. Leave a copy at home.
Although it's difficult to avoid, a few precautions are worth taking. "Reset" your sleep patterns by going to bed early a few nights before you leave. On the plane, sleep as much as you can, and walk and stretch when awake. Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, and drink plenty of water in flight. On arrival in a new time zone, take a short nap, have a light meal at the appropriate local hour, and perhaps a brief stroll afterward. Eat lightly for two or three days, keep the first day's itinerary relaxed and allow about 24 hours to adjust.
AT&T Direct is a great way to keep up with friends, family and work when traveling internationally. AT&T Direct provides quick access to English-speaking operators and fast connections with the clearest sound quality. All without excessive surcharges. To place a call, follow these simple steps.
If you have any questions or wish to order an AT&T Calling Card before your trip, call 1-800-787-2077 or visit our web site by clicking on the logo below.
International Telephone Codes
Hilton, the world's best-known hotel brand, has more than 400 hotels in 50 countries, including city centers, hotel-casinos, resorts and airports.
The great tradition of Hilton hospitality has been available in Europe
forover 30 years. Today, you will find 48 elegant, first-class hotels in virtually
all the major cities across the continent, plus airports and resorts.
For more, see while you are there and heading home