All About Europe, Travel Tips for the Brave and Familiar
It can be daunting to travel to Europe. If you are planning on traveling to Europe with a friend or family member, I am sure you will appreciate any tips to make your trip more enjoyable and safer. I have prepared a set of advice that will be helpful as Europe is a popular tourist destination in the summer months.
This list will help you save money, travel more efficiently, and have a better experience. These are the things that I wish I had known before my first trip to Europe.
P.S. Please let me know if there are any changes or suggestions! Also, feel free to share the following with your family members, friends, and colleagues planning to travel to Europe in the summer.
1. Make sure your travel documents are in order
You should now get your passport if you plan to travel outside the country in the summer. Many countries require your passport to be valid for at most six months, some even three months after your arrival date to be granted entry. No matter how short your trip is, you may be refused entry if your passport has less than six months of validity.
2. Check the visa requirements for Europe
A visa is not usually required to travel for a short time. It is still important to verify the visa requirements before taking off, especially if your trip is longer. Before every trip to another country, I suggest you to consult the checklist for overseas trips. This information is easily found online.
3. Call your credit card company
Before you travel, inform your bank or credit card company that you will be leaving the country. You should let them know where you’re going and for how long you will be gone. Tell them you are traveling, so they don’t block your card when you have to pay for expensive items like hotel rooms and train tickets. To avoid obstacles and security hassles during your travels, call them in advance and ensure they know you are taking a trip abroad and will be using your card multiple times. I also suggest talking to a bank that charges no foreign transaction fees.
4. Make payments in the local currency and avoid shady ATMs
It may seem counterintuitive, but to pay in your home currency (Brazilian real or United States dollar) in Europe is a big no-no! That’s because by paying in your local currency, you’ll probably be charged way higher fees than the ones your bank charges to pay in Euros, korona, etc. Another tip is to avoid ATMs conveniently placed in super-packed touristic spots or main roads. I’ve been there, too: I was exhausted, impatient, and needed cash fast. But then, when I came back home and looked at the fee this random bank charged for my withdrawal, I felt like the stupidest person in the world. Instead, ask your bank which European banks are partners and offer favorable withdrawal options for you.
5. Take care of your phone, and your phone will take care of you
Specific cell phone plans permit international travel without additional fees and charges. Some plans require you to activate an international plan and pay the appropriate amount. It would be a mistake to not know the costs and end up unable to use your phone. Before traveling, call your provider to verify whether you have coverage for the country you plan on visiting. If your provider does not offer coverage, turn off your phone or switch to airplane mode. Otherwise, you can use WiFi. Your device will become your best friend in many emergencies or simple sightseeing situations. I also suggest downloading offline maps not to lose your way if you can’t find WiFi and the provider charges too much for an international plan. And a power bank also goes a long way in making you enjoy your trip without having to feel like your phone battery is dying out too fast.
6. Make your reservations early
When it comes to traveling, it’s pretty risky to gamble. Making reservations well in advance is the best way to ensure that your trip runs smoothly. You don’t want to find yourself in the situation where your favorite hotel is fully booked, and you must settle for a noisy, cheap hostel.
7. Pack light BUT right
Many hotels in Europe don’t have elevators, so make sure you can carry your luggage around. You’ll find similar situations when elevators are not available for train travel. Each time you visit a new country, you will have to move your belongings around. So think carefully about what you need and get rid of the rest. Use a bag where you can put your essentials, toiletries, laptop, and chargers without being too big or overly troublesome to move. Functionality outweighs elegance in most trips! Of course, if you are heading to Europe for a business trip, this may not apply to you.
8. Make good use of rail passes
A Rail Pass allows you to travel to multiple destinations in one trip without spending lots of money. It’s also a great way to experience travel by train if you don’t have one. If you plan to purchase one, it’s cheaper to order it online, and it’s easier to have it delivered directly to your home address rather than dealing with it while on the trip.
9. Don’t over-plan your stay
It can be challenging to resist the urge to see and do everything. But who wants to spend their vacation traveling? You’ll burn out if you try to do too much. You should allow yourself enough time to sleep and take adequate breaks between activities. You’ll be grateful to your body and feel more fulfilled at the end. Instead, focus on particular regions or a single country without trying to see too much at once.
10. Don’t focus on cliche spots, but don’t avoid them either
When it comes to sightseeing, many people jot down the 3 or 4 most popular choices and stick with those for lack of better ideas or time. But overlooked spots are where you will find the true beauty of the country you plan to visit. Visit something off the beaten track to make your trip as memorable as possible. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out the top places or attractions. You wouldn’t go to Ireland without planning a visit to the Cliffs of Moher, and you wouldn’t go to Rome without a walk to the Coliseum. Balance your touristy side with local recommendations to experience the perfect trip.
11. Be ready to go over your budget
Even the most financially conscious of us have trouble with overspending on trips. It is nearly impossible to plan for all the possible scenarios where you will incur in additional costs. Plan ahead, add some buffer to your budget, and you will be able to go over if needed. This will save you a lot of stress and worry.
12. Plan for jet-lag
Jet lag can be avoided by getting on the local time as soon as possible. Personally, I go to bed early and set my watch to local time the moment I board the plane. This is something I do the day before I fly. Then, I try to fix my sleeping and eating schedule to the one in my country of destination. If you fly overnight and are tired when you land, don’t sleep as soon as you arrive at the hotel. Instead, fight it. Keep awake until at least 10 pm so you can catch up on local time as quickly as possible.
I hope you liked my travel tips for Europe! What did you think of this list? Let me know whether it was helpful, and have a great trip!