European travel can be a memorable and enriching experience that offers you and your loved ones something that you'll cherish forever. With so much opportunity to see and do, it's always helpful to know as many travel hacks and tips as possible when traveling in Europe. Besides the obvious, such as wearing comfortable shoes in order to avoid leg pain while walking in Europe, here is a list of helpful travel tips to keep in mind!
Research Ahead of Time
Before leaving for your European trips, be sure to carefully research wherever you plan to go. Look up popular attractions, local customs, and transportation options. Get familiar with the local language as much as possible, even if it's just a few key phrases. This will make navigating unfamiliar territory much easier.
Take Advantage of Public Transportation
Europe has an awesome public transportation network that surpasses that of most other regions in the world. Look for multi-day passes that allow you to access unlimited travel on certain forms of public transportation. This can make your European trip a lot more affordable as far as getting around. Plus, it's a great way to see the city.
Pack Smart and Pack Light
When packing for your European trip, keep in mind that you’ll probably only need a handful of outfits, which you’ll simply wear on a rotating basis. Also, check the weather forecast for each destination and pack accordingly. Lastly, remember that many European cities have cobblestone streets and uneven sidewalks, so it's important to pack appropriate shoes.
Be Prepared for Cultural Differences
Europe has a lot of different cultures that are often different from what you'd find in the U.S. For example, in some countries it's considered rude to tip, while in others it's expected. In other places, it's considered impolite to eat or drink while walking, while in others it's perfectly acceptable. Do some research ahead of time to avoid unintentionally offending locals.
Sample the Local Cuisine
One of the best ways to experience a new culture is through its cuisine. Europe is home to a wide variety of delicious foods, from German sausages to French croissants. Don't be afraid to try new things, and ask locals for recommendations on where to find the best local dishes.
Be Wary of Pickpockets
Unfortunately, pickpocketing is a common nuisance in a lot of European cities. Keep your valuables close to your body, and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or wearing flashy jewelry that could attract unwanted attention. Consider hiding money in undergarments or in your shoes.
Take Advantage of Free Attractions
Europe is home to many free attractions, from world-class museums to beautiful parks. Take advantage of these opportunities to save money and see some of the best sights that Europe has to offer.
Memorize Important Local Phrases
While English is widely spoken in many parts of Europe, it's always helpful to learn a few key phrases in the local language. This can help you navigate unfamiliar territory and make a good impression on locals. Locals usually appreciate it when visitors attempt to speak their language.
Be Flexible with Your Plans
While it's important to have a general itinerary in place, it's also important to be flexible. Unexpected weather, transportation delays, or other unforeseen circumstances can throw a wrench in your plans. Also, by being flexible, you'll be able to take advantage of spontaneous activities that might not have occurred to you previously.
Take Time Out to Relax
Traveling can be exhausting. Take time out to sit back and relax and enjoy the fact that you're in Europe. You don’t always have to be on the go. Don't make your schedule so tight that you don't have time to just sit at an outdoor cafe and enjoy watching the people go by.
Equip Yourself With Translation Resources
While it is useful to learn some phrases in the local language, be prepared for language barriers in non-English-speaking countries. Have a translation app like Google translate or a pocket dictionary on hand to help with communication.
Be Mindful of Dress Codes
Even though you’re on vacation, all of Europe is not. Many religious sites and formal establishments in Europe have dress codes. Be sure to pack appropriate attire to avoid being denied entry.
Avoid Peak Times
Europe's peak tourist season is typically from June to August, which means longer lines, higher prices, and more crowds. Consider visiting during the shoulder season, from April to May or September to October, when the weather is still pleasant, but the crowds have thinned. Also, be mindful of peak hours. Generally, early in the morning is less crowded, while noontime is nearly always busy.
Consider Alternative Accommodations
Hotels can be expensive in Europe, especially in popular tourist destinations. Consider alternative accommodations, such as hostels, pensiones and Airbnb rentals, all of which can be a more affordable and unique way to experience the local culture.
With this handy guide to hacks and tips when in Europe, you’ll be able to make the most of your money and time, while staying safe and seeing as many sites as you want. Traveling to Europe is on most people’s bucket lists, so consider yourself one of the lucky ones!