Tips For Visiting Karlsruhe Inexpensively From North America
Many people worry about the costs of traveling to Europe from
North America. In practice, if you are a little careful and plan
ahead, traveling to Europe is no more expensive than the typical
cost of traveling across the United States.
The key tricks are to shop carefully for airfares and then
choose your hotel wisely and keep your eating costs down.
In Karlsruhe, hotels are very reasonably priced, making it
easy to make up for a slightly higher airfare.
The international airport closest to Karlsruhe is Frankfurt (about
1 hour's train ride away). Most people will get their best plane
fare flying into Frankfurt.
Frankfurt is a hub for Lufthansa, a member of the Star Alliance, with
United. United has a major presence at a number of US airports. Because
the two airlines code share, you can book with either airline. If you're
worried about United's potential for bankruptcy, book with Lufthansa.
However, it is always worth checking options. Zurich and Munich are
major international airports three hours from Karlsruhe, and Paris is 6
hours away. You may find that a plane ticket to one of those cities
(esp. Paris, which is a popular destination from the US) plus a train
ride to Karlsruhe, saves some money. Make sure to figure out how much
the train ticket from the airport to Karlsruhe will cost -- it may
exceed your savings in airfare. The website for the German Railways
(Deutsche Bahn) is www.bahn.de [click on Intl. Guests for itineraries
in English]. As a point of information, the current cost of a
round-trip train ticket between Munich and Karlsruhe is $115.
Book substantially in advance. Best fares are typically limited
availability and often sell out early for summer travel. Also keep
an eye out for sales (look in the travel section of a major newspaper
such as the Sunday New York Times). Do keep in mind that the precise
availability of low price tickets varies daily - so one day you may
discover no tickets in your price range, and the next day, for the
same itineraries you may find low price tickets.
With some care, you can usually find a plane ticket to continental
Europe for about the cost of flying across the United States (c. $500
to $700 round-trip).
Some of the best places to look for lower cost plane tickets are:
- Council Travel (www.counciltravel.com/),
which specializes in low cost travel for students and faculty. As of
this writing (in February) Council Travel was offering $600-$700
tickets to Frankfurt from major American cities for SIGCOMM week. A
student ID may be required to get a good fare.
- Consolidator fares. Consolidators are companies that purchase airline
tickets in bulk, and thus can often sell them at a discount. One such
consolidator is Travelocity.com. One nice feature of Travelocity is
that they will track fares and notify you via email when the price goes
below your target price.
- www.cheaptickets.com (which as of mid-February offered SIGCOMM week
plane tickets to Frankfurt of $550 from New York and $750 from San
For information about visas please visit the homepage of the German embassy.
The conference hotels are all of high quality and are offering very
good prices (c. $100 per night including breakfast, a bit more than
half that if you share a room).
However, if you are a student and really want to keep costs down,
consider staying at the Karlsruhe Youth Hostel (JH Karlsruhe,
Moltkestr 24, 76187 Karlsruhe, Fax +49 721/27647). It charges
under $30 per night.
SIGCOMM will be providing lunch for conference, workshop and tutorial
attendees. The hotels all provide breakfast. There will be a conference
dinner one evening during the week.
So all you really need to do is find a few dinners. Karlsruhe
is a university town and so it is easy to get a meal (and a beer!) at
a modest price (between $10 and $15).