Here are some great travel tips in Rome (or Europe). Do these things and we think you’ll be glad you did. Grazie!
Exchanging money is important when traveling overseas and using your credit card isn’t always the best way to pay because of foreign exchange fees. Here’s what we figured:
- Bank: If you’re going to exchange money through a bank, give it some time for your bank to request the money. It takes a minimum of two weeks to receive
- Kiosks: I like to avoid kiosks because they charge exorbitant fees. Airport kiosks are available for convenience and if you need money right away, go for it.
- Foreign ATM machines: This was our favorite way to pull out money. Our experience was that it had the best exchange rate and we were charged fees; they were less than $3.00 USD and not on all transactions.
- We also called our bank before our trip to let them know we were traveling outside the U.S. Banks do vary in fees, but with our experience we were not charged.
- If you have a CITI (debit or credit), HSBC credit or PAY PAL card you can avoid fees altogether.
Passports and other docs:
Lock your passports but bring a copy if you need to roam (no pun intended) around town. For purchases like Valentino flats, make sure you have your passport or else your purchase for these types of items will not be authorized.
When you get to the airport, I recommend going to the designated kiosks in the airport to avoid the hassle of mail-in rebates.
Before anything else scan your receipt for any purchases to get a refund on your VAT (value added tax). What is a VAT? It applies to products that are bought and sold in the European Union and products usually sold for export abroad that are normally not subject to a VAT charge. Depending on the purchase item and country, you are entitled to that extra 12%-17% refund; it’s a big difference on top of a product that is already cheaper. For example, a Prada bag is manufactured in Italy so if you buy it in Italy, the bag is not only cheaper, but also a retailers way of alleviating an export tax charge.
TSA precheck: Flying business class: The perks of flying business class include zipping through long security lines and avoid long lines like this:
However, if you are going through another European City:
you will have to go through a customs process where you show your passport AGAIN.
so a) make sure you have enough time between layovers and
b) not all airlines are recognized for the “fast track” option in business class (like Brussels airlines) so have your TSA precheck or Global Entry Number added to your ticket. It’s back up and will get you ahead of the lines:
Learn more about it here:
- TSA precheck: You can read more about the benefits and apply here.
- Global Entry Program: Expedite’s low-risk travelers through the airport so they can skip lines all together
If you apply for either of these programs, I would definitely advise doing it several months before your departure. We did not apply for these programs before we arrived to Rome, but quickly realized it’s a sure way to speed things up!
Inner Europe Travel
It’s best to book your inner Europe travel tickets by going through the European websites because it’s much cheaper. For example, we purchased our Rome to Venice tickets for 62 Euro’s each, whereas U.S. sites charged $260 USD per ticket. Now that’s a BIG SAVINGS!
There are so many sites to see throughout Rome and they are all so unique. No matter where you go, there are crowds.
Pay the extra Euros to skip the line. Not only will you get ahead of the lines (with a group of other visitors) you will learn more information through your guide.
It’s worth skipping the lines through The Vatican City and The Coliseum. Oh and for the Vatican: go on the last scheduled tour. It’s the best time to go because you have more room and time to walk around and see things at a slower pace.
Hotels in Rome
The BEST hotel location in Rome is located on Via Veneto. This street is lined with five star hotels and a row of Embassies. Plenty of restaurants are also close to the hotels so you can save time searching for places to eat. You’ll also find local markets with cheap products and drinks if you’re on the go.