10 Tips for Traveling to Europe
We’re half way through September and I’ve already been home from my European adventure for nearly a month. With the temperatures starting to cool off and summer officially ending, it’s hard to believe I was just swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.
But I’m already envisioning my next trip to Italy or chance to experience Paris all over again ;)
While I’m daydreaming and feeding my wanderlust, I have some friends who’ll actually be traveling to different parts of the world in the upcoming days & weeks. Helping them get ready for their departure, it dawned on me that there were a few “things” not everyone knew to do while prepping for a trip to Europe!
And voila, 10 tips for traveling to Europe was created.
BEFORE YOU GO
1. Call your credit cards. Let them know you’re traveling internationally and tell them your destinations and travel dates. That way they’ll know it’s actually you using your credit card in Venice and not a case of stolen identity.
BONUS: Only bring credit cards with a 0% foreign transaction fee!
2. Learn a few basic words of your destination’s language. It’s courteous to the locals, and might come in handy if you’re in a pinch. Hello, goodbye, thank you, please, excuse me, yes, no, exit and restroom are helpful words to know.
3. Pack light!!!! I cannot emphasize this enough. It will make your travel-life immensely easier. If you think you packed light, go back and take out more stuff. You will be tempted by the boutiques, handmade goods and prices in Euros, and will probably give in to a few purchases – as you should! It’s nice to bring home souvenirs, just make sure you have the room for them all.
4. Don’t convert all of your money. Use Europen bank’s ATM machines when you get there so you get the most accurate exchange rate. You might get charged anywhere between $2-5 for a non-branch fee, but try to take out as much as you’ll need for a week at a time to limit the fees incurred.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
5. If you’re traveling to Europe for a decent amount of time, buy a European sim card for your cell phone. Vodafone and TIM are popular providers throughout Europe, and offer unlimited data per month for 30-40€. This will let you use your phone on the go without constantly searching for WiFi, and you can still text or call home through apps like Viber and WhatsApp.
6. Ride the metro systems! It’s the best way to cut down your expenses while traveling, and they really are pretty easy to use. If you can navigate the NYC subway system, you’ll have no problem mastering the metros in Europe.
7. Foursquare is great for real suggestions. It’s no secret I love Foursquare. So it’s no surprise that it was my preferred app throughout Europe. From places to eat, honest reviews and menu searches, I found almost everything I needed. I even looked up parks for picnics, local attractions and places to shop.
BONUS: I have lists created in Foursquare with my favorite places from different cities, like Paris & London. Check ’em out!
8. Don’t be afraid to ask for directions if your map fails you. Most mornings I studied my map over breakfast, but sometimes your feet don’t take you where you want to go. Don’t be shy about asking locals for a little help.
9. Don’t forget to validate your train ticket. If you’re traveling by train between cities, you’ll need to validate your printed ticket before boarding in the little machines on the platforms. Don’t forget to do this! Or you’ll risk having to pay a major fee, or maybe even getting thrown off.
10. Keep a journal. The days and weeks can start to blend together, and pretty soon you’ll forget the name of that hole-in-the-wall bar you found or the secret beach someone told you about. Whether it’s paper, electronic or even napkin notes, jot down as much and as often as you can!