Going to any new place can be a little daunting, European countries offer a challenge that is different from traveling to South-Asian or African countries.
Chilling winds and Similar looking roads/places. Europe has a rich history with countless stories of kings, queens, political leaders, etc. and if you are traveling to cover 8-10 counties in a month-long trip, you must read through the following tips.
About our trip
We booked our travel package through Contiki- we had picked Winter Wanderer which covered 12 European countries in 24 days. So, our itinerary was well planned but with max 2 days in each country.
Our day always used to start with Trip Manager instructing us through the day sheet of what things and places we will be exploring for a day and passed out a booklet which had every detail of the area, map, food, along with basic words with meaning, so it is easy to communicate with locals around. Our bus used to drop us at a start point and set a pick-up time and place, that gave us time to explore the city on our own.
You can read more about how Contiki trips work here.
Here are a few tips you can consider while traveling to Europe for the first time;
1. Make sure to have a Tourist Map
That Way? This Way? Which Way? Getting lost in a new city is common, it is important you keep a Map in handy. You can get them anywhere right from the airport, your hotel reception, to a tourist desk or even download it on your phone. It is a good idea to have a physical map so that you have a backup when your smartphone losses signal or internet or run off the battery. A map gives a better perspective to the nearby places so that you can plan your start and end point accordingly.
2. Learn a few necessary words in the local language.
While most Europeans speak fluent English and communicating with the locals is not tricky as they are very friendly and helpful.
Probably you can download this app here and learn a few essential words in the language of the country that you are traveling.
A few handy words that could be useful.
3. Local Sim
Ensure you get the local sim that has good internet and provides calling as well. It is best to get it from the airport and to get it activated. Why?
Because once you reach the destination country, you will only get the sims that mostly work in their country. In our case, we had to travel to 10 European countries, and hence it was not ideal or economical for us to get the sim of France, Spain, Italy separately.
Simcard from the airport might be a little expensive, but it would at least be hassle-free for you.
We had to wait for 4 days, before getting the correct sim card.
4. Download an offline map
As mentioned previously, we couldn't get the sim for the first 4 days and hence without internet we couldn't use google maps. But this fantastic map was to our rescue.
It was helpful to discover places faster without internet or network connection.
5. Get your money exchanged at the right place
Some people end up paying more than they should just because they don't know their options. Exchanging money at the airport is a big No-No as it charges a lot of commission on the amount. The best way is to get your money exchanged from your home country or do it locally at the destination place. This way you will end up saving more.
6. Wear comfortable shoes- you have lots to walk
Moving around in Europe is quite easy as most places are located at shorter walking distances. It is always better to wear shoes that make it comfortable for you to walk. Whether you are moving around from one stop to another or doing museum hopping or any other attraction, a good pair of shoes is essential to walk around the city and enjoy every moment.
7. Save your money- avoid taxis/ use metro
If you are considering a Taxi, I would advise not to, why? European countries have one of the best metro line connections making commute comfortable and hassle-free.
It is ideal to get a 1 day pass for metro and taking unlimited trips from 1 point to another.
Saves you a lot of taxi fare + tips
8. Tipping in Europe.
Tipping is not a compulsion, but it has become more customary for people to tip in Europe. So as a traveler you will come across Uber driver waiting on you after you pay his/her fare and that wait is for the tip.
A general rule of thumb that people follow is 10%, but again it is entirely an individual call to tip or not.
9. Local food?
You will experience a certain similarity in Food when you are traveling across Europe. The food is cheaper in countries like France, Spain, and Italy, compared to Switzerland, Germany, and Austria.
Try smaller coffee joints and odd places a little on the sidelines of the central city. You will get the same food 5-10 Euros cheaper here.
10. Electric essentials
Power sockets in European countries are different as compared to the ones in India, and not carrying these essentials can cost you dearly also most hotel rooms have only 2 power sockets and as a traveler when you are out the whole day, charging your multiple devices like camera, phone, laptop, etc becomes a difficult task.
Below 3 products are must-haves when you are traveling not only to Europe but other countries as well.
- Universal World Wide Travel Charger Adapterrent electrical output.
- Multi-device Charger.
If traveling in winter- Europe has weird weather patterns, and you will never know what will follow a rough snow day. So make sure to carry warm clothes along with waterproof jackets and Umbrella. Also, do not forget to have comfortable boots which are water resistant so that you do not end up soaking your socks wet on your all-day walk tours.
My lesson from Euro trip.
We usually get very excited as the trip starts and tend to shell out money on unnecessary things and realize it very late that you have spent your money for no reason. Make sure you divide your money day wise, keep some amount of money for food, tourist tickets, etc. This way you will be able to track your money and not spend it pointlessly.