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Old 4th July 2019, 09:34   #736
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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Need some guidance from esteemed bhpians. I have a business trip (and little tourism on personal expense) to Europe starting 3rd week of july for about 3 weeks and would be visiting Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland and Holland.
Check the rates for both options from your bank. The rates vary greatly depending on the bank and your relationship with the bank.
Generally cards are accepted everywhere in Europe, but some small shops may insist on minimum purchase (~ Eur 10) to swipe a card.

I have used Airtel international roaming and worked well for me. I used only voice. For data I usually rely on free hotel/ office/ public wifi.

I have no experience of Switzerland, all above experiences are from Austria/ Ireland/ Germany/ Czech/ Slovakia/ Holland.

Last edited by ampere : 5th July 2019 at 11:47. Reason: spacing; quoted post trimmed
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Old 4th July 2019, 20:49   #737
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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I have no experience of Switzerland, all above experiences are from Austria/ Ireland/ Germany/ Czech/ Slovakia/ Holland.
Getting a local sim is pretty easy these days and you can get one in the airport itself. In Swiss, for about 30 Franc you can get a local sim with unlimited EU calls + SMS + 10GB data.

Do not even bother using your Airtel international roaming and they will rip you apart. I would say, better disable any data usage unless you want to shoot yourselves (for turning on data by mistake).
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Old 5th July 2019, 10:47   #738
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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I would say, better disable any data usage unless you want to shoot yourselves (for turning on data by mistake).

Data on international roaming is always expensive. But it has come down significantly.

Airtel e.g. now has a 10 day pack for 3600, and a 30 day pack for 4000 where you get 3 gb and 5 gb free data. Jio also has similar or probably cheaper plans. The 30 franc local Swizz sim will work out to ~2k inr.


So based on the travel duration and time spent in each country you can decide.
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Old 5th July 2019, 10:59   #739
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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Do not even bother using your Airtel international roaming and they will rip you apart.
+ 1 to that. Getting hold of a prepaid SIM in Europe is pretty easy. And its pretty cheap when compared to the loot of the desi telecom companies.

Plus they also have attractive top-ups for data which can be used pretty much throughout Europe and even in the UK. Lyca, Lebara are some names that crop up.
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Old 5th July 2019, 11:33   #740
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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Originally Posted by ravib View Post
2) I have Airtel pre-paid number. Is it better to activate international roaming in my own number or does it make more sense to buy separate sim card like matrix or other vendors. The reason for this question is, if Airtel doesn't have good coverage in partner networks primarily for data and voice, then it may be better off to consider other most reliable international SIM card vendors?
Last year I was in Netherlands & Belgium. I bought a pre-paid data only Vodafone card. It worked flawlessly. Its valid for 3 months throughout EU. Costed around Euro 20 for 15 GB data.

Last edited by ampere : 5th July 2019 at 11:48. Reason: trimmed quoted post
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Old 5th July 2019, 12:55   #741
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Being Dutch and currently living in the Netherlands I can not help you with what SIM card to get. Any other questions on the Netherlands I will be happy to try and answer
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Old 5th July 2019, 14:45   #742
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

Lycamobile is generally a good choice. 50 Euro for a monthly pack: includes unlimited calling in Europe and the UK, and some 10 gb 4G data. A hot favorite in any Indian store across Europe.
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Old 7th July 2019, 14:57   #743
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

Dear All, we are planning a family trip to Europe in the last week of October/first week of November. None of us has ever been to Europe so that is why we would mainly be concentrating on the countries/attractions that are must visit for a noob's POV. Based on TBHP recommendations and youtube videos, we have finalised following:

1. France
2. Italy
3. Netherlands
4. Greece
5. Switzerland

Few additional pointers:

1. We would have about 2 weeks time to roam about all the places (28 Oct to 12 Nov)
2. We are open to strike off countries from the above list if its too much to cover in two week's time
3. Our group comprises of adults (30-35 years of age) so walking, trekking and other cardio activities should not be an issue
4. We are also open to group travels from MMT, TUI and Yatra but we've heard that they are on the pricer side
5. We would be leaving from Delhi Airpoirt

Can anyone help me in finalising the Itinerary. Once finalised we can focus on the places and can plan day wise activity. Thanks!

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Old 7th July 2019, 17:15   #744
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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Dear All, we are planning a family trip to Europe in the last week of October/first week of November.
To be honest, two weeks is a lot of time; as are five countries. There could be a terrific number of iterations/suggestions based on every reader's preferences/interests. You'd need to narrow this down a bit more so members can give suggestions.

Start with asking your group what they want to do: sightseeing at popular places, museums, historical places, or immersing in the local experience.

From what I've heard, the travel operators may do a good job at organizing trips but a) you have little control over the itinerary, b) they specialize in mostly a stop-click pic-go to next spot kinda trip.
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Old 7th July 2019, 17:54   #745
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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Originally Posted by libranof1987 View Post
Start with asking your group what they want to do: sightseeing at popular places, museums, historical places, or immersing in the local experience.

Thanks libranof1987 for your quick response. So basically this would be a honeymoon cum vacation for us cousins.

We have planned for sightseeing at mainstream places which can include historical places or having some food at a famous eatery or chatting with local folks, stuff like that. Since it's gonna be a relax and do nothing trip and hence we basically want someone to 'guide' us where and what to do and for that same reason we wanted to try group tours. I have attached an itinerary we got from MMT. The countries mentioned here might be different but the purpose of the trip remains the same. Thanks!
Attached Files
File Type: docx MMT.docx (17.8 KB, 96 views)
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Old 8th July 2019, 12:35   #746
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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Originally Posted by drive_angry View Post
So basically this would be a honeymoon cum vacation for us cousins.

We have planned for sightseeing at mainstream places which can include historical places or having some food at a famous eatery or chatting with local folks, stuff like that. Since it's gonna be a relax and do nothing trip and hence we basically want someone to 'guide' us where and what to do and for that same reason we wanted to try group tours. I have attached an itinerary we got from MMT. The countries mentioned here might be different but the purpose of the trip remains the same. Thanks!
The good thing is you are starting the planning stage early and it allows you some time to lock down your itinerary. @libranof1987's advice to identify what your travel group wants to do and then lock in the itinerary is sound advice.

I have done two trips to Europe and covered 13 countries in all. The first time was a 3 week trip with my wife, where I spent about 6.5+ lakhs for the two of us. The second was a 41 day solo trip where I spent about only 2.7 lakhs for the entire trip. From my own experience, you can devise a travel almost anywhere in Europe at any budget and never go wrong!

A suggested approach to work out your plan:
1. Identify landmark cities that you would all want to visit - Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin, Prague, Budapest,...? Prioritize them in sequence and be willing to just pick the top 2 - 3 if needed
2. Figure out if you want to include experiencing the Alps (you can do the Alps in either Switzerland, France, Austria, Germany,...similar experience in terms of nature, but costs and transportation options vary - this can be locked in with the choice of cities)
3. See if you want to include historic cities like Florence or Athens for instance. This is not a must because major old cities like Rome, Paris, etc will give you a taste of this anyway
4. Would you want to include any lakeside, mountain, or rural homestay? Just a couple of do-nothing days in the middle of your hectic travel?
5. You would be advised to avoid beach cities since weather in end Oct/early Nov would be cold already and you can expect rain in many places
6. I presume you do not intend to drive (not a must in Europe). Are you looking at trains or flights? I would strongly recommend trains for their convenience. Would you want to include any overnight train journey experience?
7. Is there any childhood dream you would like to fulfill - like dancing in the Alps or retracing the steps of Maria and the Von Trapp children in and around Salzburg?

I guess you get the drift. Once you identify the choice, research on google maps as well as the internet (sites like rome2rio.com and seat61.com will help) for transport options between your top spots. Work out combinations of your travel destination and transit timelines. You will get your fill of wanting to mingle with the locals and eating out at iconic/authentic places for sure.
Note: almost everywhere, your check-out will be in the morning before 10/11 and check-in will be after 2/3 pm). Ideally, work out your intercity travels such that you leave early morning from A and reach B in time for check-in

Later, you can identify the local city transport options and identify the best forms of commute. Since you are traveling as a group, I would recommend homestays like Airbnb.

Avoid round-trip flights and choose an open-jaw (multi-city) flight plan.

I have helped out a few fellow Team-BHPians fine-tune their itinerary and I will be glad to help you out if needed. Feel free to PM me.

There is much joy in the planning phase itself! Enjoy it.

Last edited by chetan_l : 8th July 2019 at 12:38.
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Old 9th July 2019, 15:50   #747
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

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Originally Posted by drive_angry View Post
Dear All, we are planning a family trip to Europe in the last week of October/first week of November. None of us has ever been to Europe so that is why we would mainly be concentrating on the countries/attractions that are must visit for a noob's POV. Based on TBHP recommendations and Youtube videos, we have finalised following:
This is just a suggestion, but since you are planning to visit the Netherlands and Switzerland, why not spend a couple of days in Germany? The German part of the black forest is as beautiful as the Swiss side, and much cheaper as well. Also, you need to take out some time to visit the Mercedes and BMW and Porsche museums, if that is to your liking. Also, if you decide to visit Munich, there are amazing places within Bavaria that will have much less tourists!

Also, please do keep in mind that day's will be shorter during your proposed period of travel, and weather will also start getting cold. So please prepare accordingly. Also, do check activities that you can do at your planned destinations considering the weather and daylight. Also, end of October is a good time to visit museums in Germany and Switzerland. There are cultural events and some cities like Basel have festivities when all museums are open to the public for free. So do check such events in places that you plan to visit.

As regards the suggestions by other members regarding planning through travel agencies, I would second their thoughts that these agencies only focus on covering as many destinations as possible. Hence, for a truly relaxed and memorable holiday (since you mentioned somewhere that it will be a honeymoon trip), I recommend that you plan in advance on your own! If this is a daunting prospect for you, or you simply don't want any unplanned situations, then I suggest you approach these travel agencies and get a tailormade package for you. Hope this helps.

Last edited by ampere : 11th July 2019 at 06:47. Reason: trimmed quoted post
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Old 9th July 2019, 16:21   #748
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

Quote:
Originally Posted by drive_angry View Post
Dear All, we are planning a family trip to Europe in the last week of October/first week of November. None of us has ever been to Europe so that is why we would mainly be concentrating on the countries/attractions that are must visit for a noob's POV. Based on TBHP recommendations and Youtube videos, we have finalised following:

1. France
2. Italy
3. Netherlands
4. Greece
5. Switzerland
Two weeks is good to cover important places/cities in these countries(barring Greece). If you are travelling for first time, might be difficult to drive on your own and cover all places. Also do note you will be travelling atleast 6-7 hours in a day to cover these places provided you are thorough with routes, rules and regulations. If you plan to cover multiple countries better to opt for a tour operator as you can enjoy the places while someone else takes care of travel, accommodation. A little more money you can get a customized package and have an entire van for you people.

In Italy do cover Venice and smaller towns like montecatini.
France- Do not miss Paris, the city has a different aura, particularly Eifel tower at night.
Netherlands- Keukenhofen garden will probably be closed hence stick to Amsterdam/rotterdam. Utrich is probably cheaper/calmer.
Greece- Would be a little difficult to fit in the itenary. You might have to fly from/to Rome.
Switzerland- Stay in interlaken/Lucerne. Cover either Mt.Titlis or Jungfrauch .

Last edited by PrideRed : 9th July 2019 at 16:31.
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Old 13th July 2019, 13:26   #749
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Default Re: Travelling to Europe. Need advice

We had a good time on our trip to Europe. Thanks to all for their recommendations.

We had undertaken SOTC's Splendid Europe pack, and I for one was really satisfied with the arrangements done by the agency.

Pros :

1. You don't have to worry about scheduling your day, where to eat, how to travel ( it's a big concern due to pricing of various modes ).
2. The Indian food provided by the agency is basic, but of optimal quality.
3. You save a lot on your pocket, if you are a person who wants to only visit the best places any country has to offer.
4. Personal preferences are well taken for by the tour manager if it's possible for them, and deviations are accepted by them, ( we were lucky to get a great guy ).
5. You meet and bond with some really jolly families, who make your trip less stressful and more jovial.

Cons :

1. It's stressful in some ways, cause one is travelling in the coach/bus for over 3-5 hours daily.
2. Many tourist destinations have restricted access to city centres for Coaches, so walking has increased.
3. The hotels are kind of on the outskirts of the city, to reduce the inter city travel time, and costs. So you cannot often experience the party/lively vibe of main street hotels, but you do experience the residential quarter vibe of the city.


Amongst the countries visited, my most favoured city was London, most favoured destination to relax was Engelberg, Switzerland. My least favourite country was Italy. I know it's an unpopular opinion, but somehow the vibe of the cities there was no at par with my expectation.

SIMCARD : I had activated Jio's IR pack 1101, which gave me a talk time of INR 1121 with local/incoming/call to India/data being charged at INR 2/min or 100KB. The network had connection everywhere.

Last edited by sharktale : 13th July 2019 at 13:29.
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Old 13th July 2019, 13:43   #750
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Originally Posted by sharktale View Post
We had a good time on our trip to Europe. Thanks to all for their recommendations.

We had undertaken SOTC's Splendid Europe pack, and I for one was really satisfied with the arrangements done by the agency.

Pros :

1. You don't have to worry about scheduling your day, where to eat, how to travel ( it's a big concern due to pricing of various modes ).
2. The Indian food provided by the agency is basic, but of optimal quality.
3. You save a lot on your pocket, if you are a person who wants to only visit the best places any country has to offer.
4. Personal preferences are well taken for by the tour manager if it's possible for them, and deviations are accepted by them, ( we were lucky to get a great guy ).
5. You meet and bond with some really jolly families, who make your trip less stressful and more jovial.

Cons :

1. It's stressful in some ways, cause one is travelling in the coach/bus for over 3-5 hours daily.
2. Many tourist destinations have restricted access to city centres for Coaches, so walking has increased.
3. The hotels are kind of on the outskirts of the city, to reduce the inter city travel time, and costs. So you cannot often experience the party/lively vibe of main street hotels, but you do experience the residential quarter vibe of the city.


Amongst the countries visited, my most favoured city was London, most favoured destination to relax was Engelberg, Switzerland. My least favourite country was Italy. I know it's an unpopular opinion, but somehow the vibe of the cities there was no at par with my expectation.

SIMCARD : I had activated Jio's IR pack 1101, which gave me a talk time of INR 1121 with local/incoming/call to India/data being charged at INR 2/min or 100KB. The network had connection everywhere.
Great to know that you had a great time. Of all my travels, the worst has been MakeMyTrip euro trip, I am guessing SOTC will be similar.
And I absolutely love Italy... I can go there again and again. Obviously, if someone wants to eat Indian food in Europe and touch the top tourist places only in shortest possible time, then these are good options. But if someone wants to go at own pace, enjoy local food and culture, explore some of the smaller attractions, then better to stay away from these tours. For me, having the local food and enjoying the atmosphere in the cafes n restaurants are one of the main reasons for visiting Europe. Different people, different choices
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