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A European plan is a lodging arrangement in which the hotel is included but no meals are provided in the package price. There are advantages and disadvantages to this plan that must be carefully considered before accepting a travel package. Choosing the best European plan may take some thought but may actually help a savvy traveler get more out of his or her vacation.
The main disadvantage to a European plan is that it leaves a guest totally on his or her own as far as food is concerned. While the hotel may have a dining room or restaurant, any food purchased will be in addition to the room bill. For people traveling to locations where they do not speak the language, a European plan may seem somewhat daunting, as it will require them to go out and try and find food without being able to communicate with locals.
This disadvantage may also be seen as a great advantage. Hotel food, with rare exceptions, is often much more expensive than eating at local restaurants or buying food at grocery stores. Not relying on a lodging to provide meals encourages exploration of a new area, and can provide an adventurous traveler with new and exciting food opportunities. It is important to remember that a European plan may not prevent a traveler from eating at the hotel, it simply doesn't include any meals in the price of the room.
Choosing the best European plan may allow vacation money to stretch farther. Many all-inclusive hotels assume that a person on a meals-included plan will eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even tea or snacks. Rates will be set according to the most a traveler can eat, not the least. For light eaters, a European plan can prevent being charged for a lot of uneaten meals. More money saved means more money for souvenirs, excursions, and meals at other locations.
Some European plans may allow a person to stay at luxury accommodations for a much lower price than other travelers on a meals-included plan. While a traveler may not be able to get free room service in bed, taking a ten minute round-trip walk to a nearby bakery and returning to enjoy a freshly-baked croissant in the spa tub can be better than sitting around and waiting for bran flakes to arrive. For flexible travelers with a love of exploration, a European plan can provide the best of both worlds: staying in beautiful rooms while enjoying total freedom for exploring local food.
When choosing a European plan, it may be wise to pick up a few guidebooks or research online about local food options. Find out about customary or important dishes in the region, and make a simple list of restaurants, markets, and food stands to try out. If the region uses a different language, pick up a basic language book for travelers. Many will have easy to understand sections on ordering food from a restaurant and paying for meals that can help even a novice linguist get a plate of the local delicacy.