Thursday, 9 October 2014

10 Things You Need to Know Before Traveling in Europe

1. Bathrooms, Washrooms, Toilets, Water Closets:
Whatever you want to call them, in Europe they are
sparse and usually cost money. Always carry around some small change so if the need arises your not stuck. (It also might benefit you to carry around tissue in case there's no toilet paper)
2. Pick Pocketing and Scamming is Prevalent:
I have watched so many TV shows or Documentaries that show just how easy it is for pick-pocketers to grab your wallet or money. Your job is to make it difficult or impossible. Use waist pouches, zippers, compartments or whatever you need to make sure you keep your things safe.

3. Cash is Easiest:
In Europe it is far easier to pay with cash rather than credit or debit cards. Also remember to let your bank know where you are going - sometimes they will lock your account if they see a purchase in another country without any knowledge that you are there - and it can be difficult to get it unlocked again.

4. You Can Not See It All:
There is so much to see and do in Europe - Do not except to do it all in one trip. Pick countries that are close together and do a little group of them or pick one country and do it well. The rule of thumb to do a city justice is usually minimum 3 nights in a city - I often do 2 nights - but I jam pack them and I am out from early in the morning until late at night. 

5. Taxis:
Taxis are costly and I couldn't tell you how many times in Europe the taxi driver got lost or had no clue where my hotel or hostel was. Make sure you agree or set a price before you get in - and show them the hotel address and ask if they know where that is before you give them your luggage. I have actually found it is easier to take public transit (trains or buses) in Europe.

 6. Electricity:
You will need to bring travel adapters to plug in your devices - the more adapters you bring the better! Laptops generally have built in voltage exchanges (don't quote me lol) but you definitely do not want to bring things like speakers, hair straighteners, hair dryers etc.

EU to UK to CDN just to charge an iphone!
7. Languages:
Or at least try - saying hello or please or thank you in the language of the country you are visiting is important. I often found that the more that I tried (even if i struggled) people were more helpful and responsive!

8.  Pack Light:
Many flights in Europe are carry-on only (or you can pay for check in luggage) and in most cases they will be weighed or measured (they must fit into their compartments at check-in or boarding) I found the carry on sizes to be smaller than in Canada and America so be careful and look up size restrictions. 

9. No Tour No Problem:
Most of Europe is easy to see on your own and at your own pace, plus it is much cheaper. However I always look at the one day or half day tours offered on Viator for any city I visit - and I try and pick things that I know would be a bit more difficult to get to. Leave all the walking distance things to do on your own.

10. Walking Tours:
Honestly there's not many cities in Europe that I have visited and not done a walking tour. They are usually free - but you are expected to tip at the end. I found they are the best way to get my barrings on a city - so they are usually the first thing I do and then afterwards I feel like I know my way around a bit more - plus you learn a lot of history and you can get great tips about local places to eat etc.

A picture of my walking tour group in Amsterdam

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