Warnings, Tips and Advice for your European Trip

October 6, 2010 at 11:13 am (Travel) (, , )

I have managed to learn quite a bit about travelling in Europe after two trips over there in the last 6 years and thought I’d share my tips with you (I know a few of you have planned trips over there, so I hope this helps)! 

  • Be prepared to pay to use the toilet. We paid as much as $1.50 Australian to use bathrooms that weren’t necessarily clean or had seats attached. It is what it is.
  • Take a phrasebook for every language you may need. The locals always appreciate tourists trying to speak their language rather than speaking slowly and loudly in English (that’s just irritating). This will also ensure you are able to communicate when you’re in a tough situation. The Lonely Planet phrasebooks are great (and small).
  • Pack clothing that dries quickly. You don’t want to be lugging damp clothing around with you and it also means that you won’t have to fork out (and wait) for the dryer at the laundromat (if you can find one). Use towel rails, chairs and hangers to dry.
  • Check in online for flights. Why wouldn’t you? If you are travelling with carry on, it means that you go straight to the gate. With luggage there is often a separate (faster) queue for bag drop. Avoid early wake up calls and stress – you can also sometimes avoid having your bags weighed.
  • Photocopy your passport. This is Travel 101. I misplaced my passport on a trip to Bali last year and the scanned copy I had emailed to myself was invaluable. Luckily I found it again but it makes the process of gaining a temporary one faster and easier. Email a copy to yourself and perhaps a parent or friend.
  • Book all your accommodation before you leave. I’m talking to the rest of the Sagittarians out there who would love to hop on a plane and find a hotel/hostel on a whim. I know we love to be spontaneous, but train station benches aren’t comfortable.

    Photos by moi

     

  • Change your body clock and eating patterns. Shops and museums don’t usually open before 10.00am, sometimes later (Paris, I’m looking at you). In Spain and Italy it is common to start eating dinner at 9.00pm – some touristy restaurants will open for 6 or 7.00pm but the local places with the best authentic food will keep your stomach waiting.
  • Stop converting currency. I know it’s hard but you need to start thinking of prices in the local currency rather than your own dollar. Most things are more expensive over in Europe (compared to Australia or New Zealand) – London more horrifying than most. Check your bank balance regularly though.
  • If you’re taking your mobile phone… check with your provider that you have global roaming enabled and check the call/text prices (usually available on the provider’s website). Shut off data roaming. Using the internet on your phone without wifi will cost a fortune – updating your Twitter account isn’t worth eating 2 minute noodles for dinner for the next 6 months!
  • Buy really small gifts for people (if any at all). You don’t want to be lugging around huge souvenirs the entire trip. Perhaps consider buying gifts in your final destination. I bought little food samples and set up a small tasting session for my workmates.
  • Take containers with you. Little empty bottles are perfect – you’ll thank me when you’re trying to save space and need a container for your washing powder, shampoo etc.
  • Don’t promise to send postcards. You won’t.
  • If you want to see ‘tourist attractions’… be prepared to wait in a long line (particularly in peak season) and pay quite a bit.
  • If that tourist attraction is a religious building… ensure that you are wearing a top with sleeves and a high neck and either a long skirt or pants.
  • Be prepared to eat bread. A lot of it. And pastry.
  • Do not wear high heels on cobble stone roads. Self explanatory.
  • Triple check your hotel/hostel room before you check out. Do not leave your international power adaptor and phone charger behind like we did.
  • Look for interesting tours if that’s your thing. We had a ride in a Mini Cooper around London, bicycles in Nice, bus tour of Rome and noticed a few segway tours in a number of countries. There are often unique themed tours on offer such as ghost or mystery, art and architecture.
  • Don’t expect things to be like they are at home. Sometimes hot chocolates are thick without milk, hamburgers don’t come with buns, shops close at strange times (in Spain some close between 1.30 and 4.00pm) and cheese tastes unlike any you’ve had before. You’re there to enjoy the differences not complain about them.
  • ENJOY YOURSELF!
Do you have any other tips for readers travelling to Europe?
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6 Comments

  1. Jade said,

    Such great points in your post Kim! I agree with all of them… one in particular POSTCARDS. I once used to promise this but it NEVER happened. I from now on promise I won’t send postcards because I won’t have time to while exploring beautiful places… although I would love to! I instead promise to send photos online or as them to follow the blog I have set up for the trip!

    • Kimberley said,

      Haha thanks Jade, I figured out the postcard one on my last trip. Unfortunately the boyfriend had promised to send a couple (which he didn’t end up doing). Setting up a travel blog is a great idea! xx

  2. Rosie said,

    Great post!

    My main tip would be to spend a bigger chunk of time in a place if at all possible. You will enjoy your visit somewhere if you aren’t feeling hurried all the time. Also, when possible, I like to stay with friends or family. You get to experience the culture so much more when you are living with people going through everyday life.

    • Kimberley said,

      Thanks Rosie – I definitely agree with you. Staying longer in one place is something we didn’t really have the luxury of doing but it would be a much better way to see places and experience the culture. Thanks for the great tips! xx

  3. Wednesday said,

    As I do life in Europe and have worked in a hotel for a long time there are some tips I might add.
    If you need a nice and inexpensive place to eat or drink – do NOT ask a reseptionist or your guide book. Ask young people on the street. Especially students do know where to eat good and inexpensive.
    Most mayor cities do have tourist cards. With those cards you will save money on tickets for musseums or sights. Some will also be free. Check out the internet and if you do not find it, try ask the tourist information in the city you visit.

    There is one point I can not agree with the post… it is the post about booking before you leave. If you are not going to London, Berlin or Salzburg at the peak of season you will have no difficulties finding a nice hotel or guesthouse (pension) at a reasonable price. Especially guesthouses are really nice to stay, because they are familial and the owners will share their knowledge about the place you are staying. You will find many interesting stories and places to visit which are not in a guide book.

    One important thing. Most Europeans are so used to tourists that they treat them as part of the scenery. Do not be decived by their indifferent behaviour. If you show them that you really are want to get to know their city they will give their best to help you along. If they suspect you to be touring Europe in seven days, they will most likely be not very helpful. :-)

    • Kimberley said,

      What wonderful tips – thank you so much for sharing your insight, it’s really helpful finding out things from a local! xx

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