So you’ve decided you’re going to Europe. Now what? Anticipate the exciting journey ahead of you and follow these tips to avoid the inevitable “I think I’m forgetting something” feeling that looms over you sometime between leaving the house and arriving at the airport.
1. Pack well and efficiently.
Pack the essentials
- Usually, the rule is, lay out everything you think you’ll need… and then bring half of that. Pack according to the seasonal high and low end temperatures of the destination you’ll be visiting.
- Many parts of Europe are best experienced on foot, so be sure to bring comfortable footwear.
- If you’ll be staying in hotels during your stay, keep in mind many hotels will have hair dryers, towels, and some toiletries, to help you save some space in your suitcase.
- Invest in packing cubes if the idea of being really organized doesn’t make you uncomfortable. It keeps the contents of your suitcase separate (and did I mention, organized?), easily accessible, and compressed.
- Pack a bag to put your laundry in (the best ones are the mesh-y recycled fibre bags) and a separate waterproof bag for wet swimwear (maybe you’ll be in a hot tub or on a beach at some point).
Be safe and secure with documents and belongings
- If you’re staying in a share-room at a hostel, it’d be a good idea to bring a bicycle lock or padlock to keep your bags secure.
- Take precaution and invest in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) credit card protectors to stay safe against digital theft. You can bu a pack of three for just a few bucks on Amazon which is totally worth the headache you’ll be saving yourself.
2. Take care of business.
Be sure to forward your itinerary and as many details regarding your whereabouts to someone you trust who you won’t be travelling with, as well as any copies of important documents like your passport. Think of it as a fail-safe buddy system. Make sure you inform your bank, credit card, and phone companies to let them know you will be travelling if you will be using any of these items while abroad so they don’t accidentally flag your account with suspicious activity. The last thing you want is discovering that your credit card has been cancelled when you’re checking into your hotel.
3. Book insurance.
It’s maybe one of the lesser exciting pre-trip tips (it’s no packing cube), but it’s probably the most important. Make sure you’re covered with all-inclusive insurance.
Before you invest in your first big trip to Europe, it’s a good idea to protect it – your flights, your accommodations, anything unforeseeable to do with you and your baggage, etc. The point of insurance is to cover you for the unforeseeable and for peace of mind, insurance plays quite the unsung hero for when you do need to use it (although we hope you don’t.)
Your insurance coverage includes trip cancellation (in case you need to cancel in an emergency), trip interruption (in case you need to return home in an emergency), emergency medical, baggage and personal effects coverage, and flight and travel accident coverage.
Insurance policies can get pretty in-depth. Ask your Travel Expert for more information on what the best coverage is for you and your trip.
4. Experience moments with your eyes, not your screens.
You can capture a moment with a photo as quickly as you can miss it. There are some moments you’ll walk away from with no photographic evidence but a memory and a really good story that starts off with something like, “remember that time when…”
5. See as much as you can afford to.
There’s so much to see in Europe. Welcome every opportunity as your chance to discover it. In Europe, train travel is one of the main forms of transportation because it’s efficient, cost-effective, and often a scenic ride. If you want to get around Europe to explore at your own will for the least amount of dough, take the train. Rail Europe combine maps and fares for more than 50 train companies in Europe which makes it easy to book all of your train tickets in one place (it may be overwhelming – we can help you with this!)
“The true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculating to meet and greet unknown fate.” – O. Henry
If going at it on your own sounds a bit daunting to you, opt for a tour. Activities, sightseeing, and free time is carved out for you and the options will be suggested by experts in-destination. The work is all done for you, you just need to show up and go. Everything you need to see will be included as well as value adds like transportation, accommodations, prepaid entrance admissions, and even some meals. Some tour companies have preferred access to some sites, like the Eiffel Tower, that rush your entrance to the front of the line!
6. Travel like a local.
If you’re visiting a country where English isn’t the first language, study a few essential words and phrases to help you get by (How much is a beer? Do you have this in another size?
Where did Jack the Ripper live?) Interact with the locals and ask for the low down on the best places to eat, stay, and explore in the area. They’ll point in the right direction of said hidden gems, if you wish to steer clear of heavily touristy areas. You might even make some friends for life along the way.
7. Download apps you can access offline.
In case you took a left turn instead of a right somewhere or mixed up your Spanish numerals six with 16, download helpful apps like Google Maps or Citymapper and Google Translator or Duolingo. These apps, and many more, allow you to download the information you need while you’re connected online, save it, and easily access it offline or while you’re in airplane mode. For when feeling lost in translation and being lost in destination has lost its romantic lustre.
Ready for an adventure in Europe? See and experience the sights, sounds, and flavours with Topdeck who specialize in trips for 18-30 somethings. Contact a Flight Centre Travel Expert by connecting with us online, calling 1-877-967-5302, or visiting your closest Flight Centre store.