BOSTON (CBS) – More travel tips from Rick Steves, author of European guidebooks and host of TV travel shows:
When abroad, use your debit card at ATMs to withdraw local currency from your home bank account. This will keep fees down by making fewer and larger withdrawals. If your U.S. bank has a partner in Europe, use their ATMs for the best rates.
Just beware you are a target walking around with large amounts of cash.
If you are taking your smartphone or tablet to Europe, buy an international phone package before you leave to prevent costly roaming charges. Short-term plans generally start at $25-$30 and can save you hundreds of dollars.
Use your age. Seniors traveling by train can find ticket deals, most of which require a discount card purchased at train stations in Europe (discounts start between ages 60 and 67). Senior discounts at museums are generally available only to European citizens.
Europe’s cheapest beds are in hostels. Several thousand hostels provide beds throughout Europe for $20-$40 per night. They are not limited to youths. In fact, those over 55 get a discount on hostel membership cards.
Personally I am not a big fan of hostels. Many are set up as dormitories. I don’t like sharing a room with strangers even if I do get to see the Mona Lisa in the morning.
Every country has its equivalent of the hot dog stand. Steves goes on to say you can grab a filling and inexpensive bite – French crêperies, Greek souvlaki stands, Danish pølse (sausage) vendors, Italian pizza rustica takeout shops and Dutch herring carts.
Not sure I would want to fill up on herring!
Don’t over tip. Service is often included at restaurants. If it isn’t, a tip of 5-10% is the norm in Europe. For taxis, round up to the next euro on the fare.
Avoid costly currency conversion. If a merchant or ATM offers to convert euros to dollars while running your card transaction, refuse for you’ll be paying a premium for the conversion.
You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.
Subscribe to Dee’s Money Matters newsletter here.