Europe has many famous castles, beaches, culture architecture, beer, cuisine, shopping centers and so on, attracting people all around the world to visit. It is a very busy place for tourists. If you are planning to take a vacation there this winter, here are 11 things you should know before traveling to Europe, which will make your journey goes smoother and safer.
1. Please Ensure Your Passport is Valid
Before you plan your trip to Europe, please check if your passport is still valid. Since some countries require you to have a valid passport for at least half a year (some just three months) after you arrived in destination countries. No matter how many days you would like to stay there if your passport’s valid time is less than 6 months, you probably will be denied entry to their countries. Therefore, please make sure your passport won’t be expired in six months.
2. Pack Light, Travel Smart
My first tip for travel is to pack light, travel smart. Believe me, after so many trips around the world, packing light will make your travel easier and more comfortable. When I had my first trip with my girlfriend (now my wife), a weekend journey, she seemed to have packed all her closet. I had to stop her and showed her how I packed. She learned it and now she packed lighter than I do. Here is her packing light guide, if you are interested in it, you could check it out.
I used to pack like her. After experiencing so many trips alone, I had a conclusion on packing that is packing light, which makes me more comfortable while traveling and save me many checked luggage fees. Moreover, I no longer rush to the airport to check my suitcase, nor wait at the baggage claim for my bags. I don’t need to worry about delayed and lost luggage for I just take a carry-on travel backpack with me.
3. Pack an Extra Backpack/bag
If you are going shopping or buy souvenirs for your friends and families, then pack a lightweight and folding pack in your checked suitcase or carry-on travel backpack. In this way, if you buy too much stuff on your way back, you could use it. And be sure to pack your dirty clothes in the extra bag, keep your valuable stuff on the carry-on travel backpack.
4. Buy a Universal Adaptor
If you travel a lot, buy a universal adaptor with multiple outlets. In this case, you don’t need to spend so much money on buying some individual plug adaptor for different countries. What’s more, if you stay in hostels, there are not enough outlets, bring yourself one universal adaptor.
5. Download Useful Apps
Although English is very popularly used in the world, some tourists and locals just speak their own languages. In order to have better communication with other tourists and local people, a better way is to download a translation app. What’s more, I think a map app like Google Maps is very useful. In a foreign country, it is easy to get lost. Therefore, it is smart to download a navigation app to guide you to the right destinations.
6. Make Sure You Have a Proper Phone Plan
Before leaving your home country, call your mobile carrier to check whether your phone plan covers the countries you are going to or not. If not, buy a proper one or just use WIFI, or your cell provider might bankrupt you.
7. Inform Your Credit Card Company
Banks might block your credit cards after all of the credit card hacking. Therefore, before you leave your country, let your credit card company the period and destination of your trip. Some banks could be filled out a form online, but better call them for some are not helpful when you do online.
8. Be Sure Pay in Local Currency
It is a big scam that some major shops try to tell you that pay in U.S. dollars is more convenient and cheaper. In fact, it costs you more. When you choose to pay in local currency means your home bank deal with the currency conversion. If you pay in U.S. dollars, you will have a higher exchange fee than your bank back home does. Hence, before paying your bill, be sure to check payment in local currency.
9. Pay Attention to ATM Fees
We usually carry a few amounts of cash for emergency use or some places don’t accept credit or debit cards. Once you run out of your cash and might want to use ATMs. Before you leave home, it’s brilliant to check with your bank what ATM fees will be expected in European countries. Because there are many kinds of fees like non-bank ATM usage fees, ATM operator access fees, and international transaction fees for conversion to U.S. dollars and so on. Please check if the ATM is your bank’s international partner ATM to avoid these fees.
10. Realize How to Combat Jet Lag
It is troublesome that you suffer jet lag and cannot have a good time in Europe. Knowing how to combat jet lag is very important. In my case, I usually set my watch to local time the day before my flight. And I eat meals, get to bed and wake up at local times that day. Have a proper rest on the flight rather than sleep the whole journey, try to get used to the local schedule as soon as possible.
11. Validate Your Ticket Before You BoardIn Europe
Validate your ticket on the machine before you take on trains or buses, or you might risk being thrown off the train/bus and fined. In many countries within Europe, train, rail, and subway travel are on the honor system. You buy your ticket, then you must have it validated before you get on the train.
Travelers should keep in mind that it’s smart to know some things before you travel to other countries, like our 11 things to know before traveling to Europe. This is very important to make sure you will experience a comfortable, safe and enjoyable journey to Europe.
If you have any other tips or things we need to know before traveling to Europe, please leave us the comments below.