The Traveling Professor has taken well over a hundred trips to Europe and has taken with him over a thousand more. In this blog post, The Professor will tell you about the smartest travel moves you can make:
Pack Light: The Professor has learned over the years that there are two kinds of people. There are those who pack light and those who wish they did pack light. The Professor has not checked a bag on the way to Europe in about 8 years and there are times where he will spend up to 45 consecutive days on the road in Europe. Whether traveling for 2 days or 2 months, everything can be done in a carry on. Remember in Europe you will be getting on trains, ferries, taxis, vans, vaporettos, busses, and checking into multiple hotels. DON'T carry too much stuff. On top of it, nothing ruins a vacation better than a lost or delayed bag.
Travel Insurance: Anyone who travels overseas without the basic medical/emergency evacuation insurance is simply out of their mind. Domestic insurance policies probably don't cover you overseas and medicare certainly won't. None of these policies cover emergency medical evacuation (it can cost 6 figures to be medically transported back to the U.S.). Personally, I use a multiple trip policy from GEO Blue that costs me about $120 per year and is discounted for couples.
Fly Premium Economy: In this era when everyone is shopping for miserable, overcrowded, lousy food, cattle-car cheap flights, I say spend the extra couple hundred dollars and fly Premium Economy. Seats are more comfortable (yes, you can sleep), food is better, some airlines allow lounge access, boarding is quicker and it is, believe it or not, a pleasant travel experience. Now it may require some searching to find a well-priced Premium Economy seat, but it is a no-brainer to fly between New York and Madrid for $250 more, round-trip, on Premium Economy than it is in coach class.
Have a Good Travel Credit Card: Travel credit cards boast perks like preferred boarding, FREE travel insurance (any fees paid for a travel credit card are recouped right there), lounge access, no foreign transaction fees, and more. Two of my choices are the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and the MasterCard World Elite card although they carry significant fees. Cards like the Barclay's Aviator Card have lower fees.
Book Flights Directly with The Airlines: DO NOT use Expedia, Orbitz or any online booking sites for booking airfares. If there is any type of problem with a ticket, it adds one more level of mindless and frustrating bureaucracy a traveler needs to go to get any issues rectified. For instance, we were on a flight that was cancelled. Everyone who booked directly with the airline got taken care of first, the others who booked with online booking services were told to deal with the booking agencies, on their own, with no help from the airline.