How much money?


Sep 19th, 2015, 01:25 PM
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How much money?

Two of us are traveling from the U.S. to Italy, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland for 16 days.

We will be in Rome for a week, and take a day trip to Florence and another to Assisi. Then we fly to Munich, and will stay there for a week also. We will take day trips from there to Neuschwanstein and Linderhoff castles, and also to Salsburg. On the last day, we are thinking we would take a bus to Zurich, where we fly back to the US.

It looks like the bus is the easiest, cheapest, and sometimes fastest way to get places (vs. train). Is that right? Do we need to purchase tickets in advance? Any advice you can give on transportation while there will really help!
Any advice on approximate amount of money we will need per day? And how much cash to bring with us?

Thank you!
terryhenderson2007 is offline  
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Sep 19th, 2015, 02:41 PM
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Why don't you fly back to the US from Munich? Zurich is not really worth going out of your way to see.

Typically trains are faster but not always. You should compare travel times on to those by bus. Buying train tickets in advance is usually not necessary unless you want an overnight sleeper.

How much you budget for your trip depends on a million factors and you've given us none of them. Do you want high-end lodging? Fine dining every night? Doing lots of shopping?
Edward2005 is offline  
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Sep 19th, 2015, 03:40 PM
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Do not bring lots of cash.

Use a debit or ATM card to get money out of an ATM when you reach your destination.

You can use a credit card for purchases, but should not use it in at ATM.

Switzerland does not use the Euro. Italy, Germany and Austria do.

It's a good idea to keep your valuables in a moneybelt. Please remember to never access it in public.

And, as Edward2005 said, "How much you budget for your trip depends on a million factors".
anyegr is offline  
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Sep 19th, 2015, 04:27 PM
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Note that if you are concerned about money, Switzerland will be the most expensive (by far) stop on your trip.
Kathie is offline  
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Sep 19th, 2015, 05:31 PM
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The only reason we are flying back from Zurich is because I thought it would be a good place to visit. Once I realized that "Zurich is not really worth going out of your way to see," I had already purchased the plane tickets... and it would be too expensive to change them. So we will stay in Munich until the day before we leave, and then only one night in Zurich. And you're right, that one night in a Holiday Inn Express was a ridiculous price.
My question about how much money does not include lodging. We would like fine dining, but not every night. And we probably won't shop much at all. I guess I'm just thinking for normal eating and getting into museums, and getting around on buses and trains.
Thanks for the advice about debit and credit cards, and cash. And I did not know that Switzerland does not take the Euro. Hopefully, they will take a credit card with a chip.
terryhenderson2007 is offline  
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Sep 19th, 2015, 05:38 PM
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The way we typically travel is that we have a casuale lunch (but sitting down in a cafe or similar - no picnics) and a nice dinner (linen table cloth restaurants) plus allow money for local transit, entry to sights, money for a drink or ice cream during the day and a little for miscellaneous (we buy guide books at every major sight etc). For this we allow about 150 euros per day per person. We also usually do one special dinner in each city and we allow about 300 euros for that dinner.

We drink only wine - not hard liquor or mixed drinks which can be very expensive.

And this does not include shopping - except the guide books at sights etc - since that can range from 10 to 20 euros for a trinket to thousands per day depending on what you get.
nytraveler is offline  
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Sep 19th, 2015, 05:46 PM
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Sorry - you can certainly travel for less if budget is important and/or if you are willing to do things more simply.

This is the way we live at home so this is how we travel (except for the special dinners which we do very rarely at home - but lots of neighborhood places where dinner for 2 is $70/$80 inclusive of wine, water and coffee).
nytraveler is offline  
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Sep 19th, 2015, 05:49 PM
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Oh, sorry - train is usually much better than bus. Faster and much more comfortable and not subject to all of the delays that are frequent on the road. If you buy tickets fairly far in advance costs are usually very reasonable.

(But we usually do road trips - so no experience with buses.)
nytraveler is offline  
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Sep 20th, 2015, 01:47 AM
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The only exception is the Munic - Zurich vonnection, whre the bus ride is somewhat faster. Bokk your ticket a week in advance - the price for tomorrow would be 59 E, the price for next week is 34 E. Please note that busses depart at Munich ZOB just opposite the S-Bahn station Hackerbrücke, which you can arrive at by using any west bound S-Bahn from Munich central station (Hauptbahnhof).
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Sep 20th, 2015, 05:00 AM
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There are some routes where train just isn't very direct or convenient, and bus is better. But a rail website should show you those options, like This it not likely to happen most of the time, though. But if you think it looks better, do it. Bus is usually cheaper than train though. There is a direct Railjet train from Salzburg to Zurich that takes about 5:30. This is info on that train

If you are only staying in Munich and that's the reason you prefer the bus to Zurich (good idea from there), you could perhaps move to Salzburg for a couple days at the end for a change, if you wish, and then take Railjet to Zurich. I know the bus from Munich to Zurich is just under 4 hours, so a good choice from there. But the train to/from Salzburg is two hours each way from there, so it's just another option and wouldn't cost you any time overall. It wold just be if you thought you might want at least an overnight in Salzburg and a change of hotel. I don't usually like staying in the same hotel for a week unless I am really sure it is going to be very comfortable in terms of bedding and location and noise.

As for money, without transportation and hotel, I'd just budget around 75 euro per person per day for food, admissions, etc., unless you like to go to expensive places to eat.
Christina is offline  
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Sep 20th, 2015, 05:52 AM
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i find rome2rio not a bad place to start comparing buses to trains.
bilboburgler is offline  
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Sep 20th, 2015, 08:39 AM
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It depends where you are going if bus or train is the best. There's no one answer that covers all circumstances.

I allow myself $100usd/day for walking around money and make that work. I usually get some local currency in advance, then use an ATM machine as the trip goes along as needed.
suze is offline  
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Sep 20th, 2015, 10:27 PM
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Thank you all so very much! I appreciate that you took the time to give me so many things to think about and investigate!
terryhenderson2007 is offline  
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Sep 20th, 2015, 11:23 PM
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For your day trips in Italy, the train would be best. There are frequent fast trains between Rome and Florence. If you buy your tickets well in advance, you can get good discounts. If your hotel is centrally located, use Roma Termini as your station.

There is a bus from Rome to Assisi that has the advantage that it goes all the way up into the town, while the train station is at the foot of the hill, with a bus to take you the rest of the way. However, the bus departs from the Tiburtina bus station, so what you gain on one end, you lose on the other. Plus it costs more and takes longer.

The cheap (€9.90) regional trains to Assisi have no discounts, and are best bought at a train station. They're good for any regional train on the route for the next several months, but you have to stamp them in a machine at the trackside before boarding the train. There's a good direct train at 7:58 arriving in Assisi a little after 10. Other trains require a change, usually in Foligno, which adds time to the journey. The trains leave from an auxiliary track, a long walk from the beginning of track 1, so leave plenty of time.
bvlenci is offline  
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Sep 21st, 2015, 08:16 AM
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Why bring cash? Notify your bank that you're going to be out of the country and use your ATM card. Cash transactions get the worst exchange rate - usually the actual rate plus 6-8%. Your credit card and ATM will get you the actual rate; the question thereafter is what fees your credit card company charges for foreign exchange.

Make sure your bank is low-cost - like Capital One or a credit union. Also get credit cards that will be low fee on foreign exchange - Cap One, BarclayscardUS, Chase United all have low to no fee.

If the costs are close, pay extra for the train, which will usually be faster and cleaner and more comfortable. Why do you think buses would be faster? They're limited to no more than 100 kph; the fastest trains will run more than twice as fast.

Finally, you can probably ignore NYT's cost structure. She has a lot of money (the white tablecloth dinner should be your tip-off), which it sounds like you do not. I'd look at the Timeout guides for the cities you're visiting because they usually note good value places for eating.
BigRuss is offline  
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Sep 21st, 2015, 08:38 AM
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I find Rome considerably more expensive for food than Munich (and better too!). Typically I eat a big lunch and light dinner, and for a week in Rome, I would stay in an apartment and eat that light dinner at home -- not because of costs, but because 2 restaurant meals a day in Italy are one more than I enjoy.

I second the suggestion you ignore nytraveler's cost estimates, especially since she has not been to Italy for ages.
sandralist is offline  
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Sep 21st, 2015, 08:46 AM
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>>>It's a good idea to keep your valuables in a moneybelt. Please remember to never access it in public.<<<

Oh boy! You won't be travelling to New York City - you will be travelling to Europe. I live in Europe for 55 years and I always have my money in an ordinary wallet in the pocket of my pants and I never had an incidence and I do not expect one. (O.K., Rome is different, for sure.) But in Germany, Austria and Switzerland you will be safe.

Just a few tips to save money during the trip:

One of the greatest money traps while travelling is food. The rule is simple: do not eat in proper restaurants unless you decide to splurge occasionally. There are so many inexpensive good and healthy eating options:

- Go into a grocery store and buy some sandwiches or preprepared food. Many groceries offer warm dishes. Every bakery and every butcher sells small meals to be consumed right on the spot at stand-up tables or elsewhere. Buy a bottle of wine or beer and have a picnic lunch or dinner on a park bench or, if the weather is poor, on your hotel room. BTW, in Germany it is absolutely acceptable to drink alcoholic beverages in public. But be prepared: Bring plastic plates, cutlery, plastic cups and a corkscrew.

- There are many fast food-type eateries in the city, many of them offering ethnic food, e.g. German places with sausages and skewers or with fish and seafood, Italian places with pizza, asian places with stir-fry, noodles and curries, Turkish places with kebab, veggie places with juices, fruit salad etc. Especially in the bigger train stations you find food courts with a broad selection of inexpensive and tasteful food.

- Many department stores have cafeterias with inexpensive buffets.

If you use these options you may get a meal for 5 or 6 Euros compared to a proper restaurant where the bill would be more like 25 to 35 Euros.

Another word about Zürich: Somehow, many Fodorites do not seem to like Zürich. I have often been there and I find it much better than its reputation. They have a good historical museum, a beautiful Old Town on both banks of the river Limmat, a cathedral with Chagall windows and the "Kastenbäder" - cage-like swimming pools in the lake and in the river. These Kastenbäders are very unique - some of them turn into nightclubs after hours. In summer, it is much fun.

Unfortunately, the Holiday Inn Express is at the airport. Take the tram into town and at least stroll through the Old Town in the evening. It is worth it. And read the current thread about Zürich:

Anyone have a good word to say about Zurich?
traveller1959 is offline  
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Sep 21st, 2015, 09:07 AM
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I agree with Traveller1959. Fodorites always trash Zurich and Geneva. I find both of them interesting an beautiful. That's not to say there aren't other amazing places in Switzerland, but I don't ever think it's a waste of time to spend a day or two in either places.
Belinda is online now  
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Sep 21st, 2015, 10:53 AM
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A couple of notes:

The OP says they would like "fine dining" although not every night. This doesn't sound like they are squeezing every penny and may not have any need to eat their lunch standing up or premade sandwiches from a supermarket. If they choose to fine - but not sure why everyone assumes all posters want to live this way.

As for Sandralist, for some reason she has decided to tell everyone - incorrectly - that I never travel to europe just because I don;t kowtow to all of her opinions. Granted I travel differently than she does - we all have different likes and dislikes But just to establish the FACTS, I was last in Italy only about 1.5 years ago. And because she apparently lives there she may approach things differently than a vacationer there for only a few days.
nytraveler is offline  
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Sep 21st, 2015, 10:56 AM
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"fine dining" in Switzerland will be expensive, no doubt about that. But you can find reasonable meals there, by watching for the workman lunches featured in local cafes (look for the chalkboard on the sidewalk for the daily offering), shopping at farmers markets, deli counters in grocery stores, prepared foods in bakeries, etc.
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