Travel Tips to Make You a Savvy Traveler in Europe
If you are planning a visit to Europe, your “holding up the leaning tower of Pisa” photo will most likely be your social media profile images for a long time to come, so you want it to look good. Visiting Barcelona? While it’s a gorgeous place to go, it’s well known for the thieves that target tourists. These issues may feel like they have nothing to do with one another, but the truth is they are related in some ways. How you feel, look, and your ability to protect yourself in Europe all comes down to one thing, how well prepared you are for your trip.
At least 3 months prior to your departure to Europe, you must have a valid passport. Remember to renew it several months before you leave and allow processing time. This is definitely one of those no brainer travel trips! You will also require blank pages within the passport. In fact, at least 4 are what’s suggested. This doesn’t mean that you need to apply for a new passport, you can apply for additional pages through your service center or by mail. I renewed my passport last November because I knew I wanted to start traveling.
U.S. Citizens traveling for less than 3 months do not require a visa to travel within the EU Schengen countries, which include the UK. Anyone wishing to extend their trip past the 90 days should inquire at the embassy of the country they wish to visit for any additional applications and visa information. In some cases, like Russia, you will need both an invitation and a visa to visit. I had no idea you had to do both to visit Russia, but I learned that while researching! Just make sure to do your research prior to your departure.
Proof of Travel/Return
Make sure that you print out hotel reservations, flight information and any contact information for relatives or friends that you will be visiting in the country you are traveling to. Border officials often require in-depth information about who you will be visiting, where you are staying and when you will return. I typically find it best to make a little bullet travel journal, to make notes of what you did on your trip so you can concisely answer any questions. That’s one of my favorite travel tips to make you a savvy traveler!
In general, when visiting Europe, you are only expected to be immunized as far as the U.S schedule with no additional vaccinations being required. Be sure to be up to date on your Polio and Measles vaccinations, as these diseases are of concern within Eastern Europe. Don’t forget to bring your supply of any personal medications, prescriptions and dosing schedules with you as medications administered in the U.S may be different or not available in Europe. If possible, it is a good idea to bring any over the counter medications that you use regularly as well.
When I saw my doctor to prep for my Scotland trip, he suggested I get a Hep A vaccine because I eat adventurously. I’m up to date on all my other vaccinations, such as tetanus. You can also visit the CDC’s Health Guide to Traveling Europe for travel tips you need to know.
When packing for your trip to Europe it is a good idea to plan what to wear according to the regions you will be visiting. This is another of those common sense travel tips. While breathable fabrics are best in Mediterranean countries, layers are useful in the north where I’m going. If you are planning on visiting any religious sites, make sure to bring at least one set of modest attire that covers both your legs and arms. In fact, a scarf can be useful for women to use as a head covering if necessary.
When I went to Paris, France in 2004 I visited Sacré-Cœur Basilica, better known as the Sacred Heart of Paris church. It was late May, so very warm spring / summer weather and I wore shorts and a tank top. I couldn’t go into the church until I ran back to my hotel and grabbed a jacket. I had to wear the jacket zipped up so as to be dressed ‘modestly’ for the church. If I was a more experienced, savvy traveler at that point I would have known to take a jacket or scarf with me!
Clothing isn’t the only thing you need to plan out, European outlets are not only shaped differently than those found in the U.S. but the wattage is also quite different. Don’t forget to bring an outlet converter for any appliances you may be bringing, and research what kind of adapters you may need for each country you plan to visit in Europe.
I’ve been researching Scotland. I have a converter for our cell phones, iPad, and kindle. I still need to buy a converter for our laptops. It looks like I’ll have to buy a flat iron or curling iron there if I want to curl my hair. I may have to do the same for a blow dryer.
Check with your financial institution prior to your departure to see if there are European banks that you can withdraw money from to avoid fees. It is less common to carry traveler’s checks than it once was, but it can be handy to have a few hundred dollars in traveler’s checks set aside in case of emergency. Always make sure to carry your credit cards, money and important documents in a money belt to avoid being targeted by pickpockets. I also bought an RFID wallet & passport holder to keep my things secure.
There are many ways to ensure that your trip to Europe goes smoothly. Just make sure you are taking the time to prepare, plan ahead and do your research and you will be a savvy traveler in Europe in no time.
What are your best travel tips? Share below!
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