|Getting Around a City
Metro - Bus - Trams - Taxis
Research to see if the city is pedestrian friendly or
if everything is spread out and public
transportation is a better option
In Florence, everything is walkable. Prague is
mostly walkable, but you can take the metro to the
Castle...and if you are tired after a long day
London--the Underground is the way to go!
Mind the Gap!
In Rome, the metro doesn't always get you to the
ancient sites...A taxi is easier and safer.
Buses are filled with pickpockets.
However, in some cities, public transportation is a
great way to "see" the city. For Example, in
Vienna Austria the public trams take the Ring Road
and we followed Rick Steve's self guided tram tour
In Edinburgh Scotland, we had a car...but took a
taxi into town...saves the headache and cost of
Public Transportation in Venice is the water buses.
You can buy a multi day ticket or combo with
museums for greater savings. The water bus #1 or
#82 late at night is a good as $100 gondola ride
Another Option, may be tour buses...but we
generally shy away from these "tourist traps"
But in Dublin, the Red Hop On/Hop Off Tour Bus
was a great way to get to all the sights
The Sound of Music Tour in Salzburg cannot be
Confused? Just do your research.
Alot of answers can be found on this website.
Or simply Google the public transportation system
Are there multi-day Passes?
Are there Tourist Passes like the Roma Pass in
Rome and Venice Pass that include museums,
churches and water buses
What are your Options?
Whether it be getting from the airport or train
station to the hotel......or getting around a city to
see the sights....or traveling out to the
countryside....or even traveling across
This webpage hopes to answer some of
If you don't find your answers here, explore the
internet and get the info you need
before you leave home
You will feel so much more comfortable traveling
when you know how and where you are going.
|Swanson Family Crazy Travel Plans
During most of our stays, we rent a car. However,
when we home-base in large cities such as Munich,
London or Paris we make use of their excellent
transportation system of subways and buses and
don't rent a car until we are ready to leave town.
We also have taken the train in connecting
the dots of larger trips.
For example, the South of France we used a
car...then we turned it in at Nice and took a train to
Venice....then used their excellent water bus service
...then took a water taxi to the airport to fly home.
We also have used organized bus trips to move from
area to area. When we were in London, we didn't
want to rent a car and try to navigate a big city
(especially driving on the other side of the road) so
we took a bus trip to Windsor and to Stonehenge
and abandoned the tour in Bath (our destination of
choice) of course, we notified the operator in
advance and made arrangements with our
luggage....After two days in Bath (and a total of a
week in England) we picked up a rental car
Finally, flying can sometimes be the cheapest way
between larger cities. We flew from Edinburgh,
Scotland to Dublin, Ireland on Ryan Air...it was
cheaper than driving the rental to the coast and
taking a ferry. (Ryan Air...five of us to fly one way
was $125 total --cheaper than gas to drive)
And on our first Europe trip we went from Paris...our
goal was Salzburg...so we got a flight into Munich,
Germany...and then a rental car to Austria
Be creative and think outside the box.
Another good reason to pack light
We did get a two week Eurail Pass in 1989 when
we backpacked Europe without kids.
However, for the trips we now make, it is easier
and actually cheaper to buy individual train tickets.
Especially in Italy, Germany and Switzerland, the
train systems are excellent and easy to manage.
Just pack light
|Train Travel Tip
When arriving by train into your Home Base of
several nights, go ahead and buy your departure
ticket the day you arrive.
That way you will have a confirmed date and time
of departure.....and avoid ticket lines or confusion.
Always buy Direct Tickets when you can. Local
Trains that stop in numerous stations along the
way can add hours to your trip.
Don't assume the early trains get there
early...sometimes direct trains leaving hours later
will arrive at destination before others.
|Westbanhof--Main Train Station Munich
|Train to the Cinque Terre, Italy
CHEAPER AND EASIER WAY TO TRAVEL?
Believe it or not, Flying may be the quickest and
sometimes, the cheapest, way to travel between
cities or countries.
Some countries subsidize their local carriers and
the rates can be really low....How LOW?
How about $1.99 pounds for a flight from Scotland
to Ireland...That is $4 a ticket....plus fees, taxes and
such...It was $125.00 for five people to fly one way
between Edinburgh and Dublin.
Another vacation, we realized that it was much
cheaper and saved about seven hours in travel
time to fly from Rome to Venice.
Yes, cheaper than the train or even renting a car
plus we got an extra entire day to enjoy Venice.
You have to look for those bargains.
Most are found by booking early
Which is another benefit to research and coming
up with a rough itinerary before you leave home.
Just recently we even combined a 10 night
Mediterranean cruise....with a week in the Czech
Republic. We found cheap flights connecting
Rome (our port of call) to Prague for about $165 for
five of us.
Alway explore this option...the build your vacation
around your bargain flights
| Rental Cars
Most rental cars companies have international branches....so try them first, especially if
you have discounts or promotions.
European Rental Car Companies are great too.
We have rented from them with no issues...but read your agreement carefully.
Make sure you are aware of all driving laws and regulations. For example, driving in
Switzerland requires purchasing an annual use permit at the borders.
|Learn your local road signs. Trust us "one way"
signs are not the same.
And the kids got a kick out of "Ausfarht" (exit) in
Germany when we couldn't find our way out of a
In the US, "right turn on red after stop" is the
rule....In France, drivers entering on the right have
the right of way....straight traffic has to yield (which
means "slam on brakes"
Also, learn the local language for "gas", "gas
station", the difference between "unleaded" and
diesel. Sometimes the gas stations are even
located on the sidewalks.
Parking can be a headache. Roads turn into
Staircases (seriously). Road are narrow.
Don't attempt to Drive in
Wales,Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast
in Italy, and be very careful in every
big city. Paris was scary...although
the kids were laughing hysterically
when we went around the traffic
circle of the Arc de Triomphe about
six times before we could figure
which way to go
We usually try to rent the cars on the
outskirts of the city...or even take a
bus or train to a smaller town and
Don't be overconfident.
|The Amalfi Coast Road
Hold your breath as you squeeze by
tour buses, while there is a several
hundred foot drop-off on the other side
of the "guard" rail
|Westbanhof--Main Train Station Munich
|Narrow Cliffhanging Roads of
Dingle Pensisula - Ireland
Ok....this mights seem like a splurge but sometimes it
is a really good value and worth it for ease of
If you are visiting the Almalfi Coast, don't bother with
driving (an insane idea) or try the local bus...
Hire the Monetti family.
You won't regret it.
Marco in Rome was wonderful for transportation to
and from the pier and Rome (about an hour
away)...the train experience was horrible.
Going to Santorini....book Nikos...clean,
air-conditioned....even took photos all day and gave
a CD for a souvenir
We have used Private Drivers in Grenada, St. Lucia,
Peurto Rico, St. Kitts....this is the way to go
Much cheaper that shore excursions offered by the
cruise lines....and the best way to see the island.
|Tony, who was driving in the picture
above when we had a close
encounter with a bus, is a perfect
|Cuttie in Grenada...coaxes a monkey
out of the tree for Amanda
|Above: Sidewalk Gas Station, Monaco
Below: Small Rental Car, Tuscany
|Nikos in Santorini made our day very special...also
gave us a DVD of photos he took