Dreaming of a long weekend in Paris, Rome, or Seville never gets old. And traveling around in Europe never stops just because the weather has gotten colder. For many, it's an escape from their city to explore a new place, sometimes for cheaper prices, or to partake in activities and events only available during certain seasons. There's always a good reason to visit Europe and get a taste of what the European lifestyle is all about. This post will share 5 tips to help you prepare for your European trip, no matter what time of year.
Pack layers, a carry-on suitcase, and walking shoes
Let's face it, no matter what time of year it is in Europe, there's a good chance the weather will change during your stay, especially if you are traveling from one country to another. Rain can be an everyday occurrence in some countries like England and Ireland. But don't let the rain stop you from visiting! Just pack accordingly, or take a shopping trip and discover what the locals are wearing. Bringing at least a hooded jacket or coat, along with a good pair of walking shoes (because you will be walking a lot) is a good starting point. And here's some good news - tennis shoes are very trendy right now. If you're not a tennis shoe kind of person, a chic pair of leather boots with good ankle support and a thick heel will work very well. Because no one wants a sprained ankle from wearing heels, tripping on cobblestone streets or climbing up some unforeseen stairs. Bringing along a couple tank tops, a lightweight or warm scarf, a long-sleeved top and/or sweater will cover all your layering basics during your trip, as well. Fitting everything into a carry-on suitcase or backpack will save you the stress of over-packing and having to wait at baggage claim, as well as avoiding having to lug big, heavy suitcases around
Carry a copy of your passport and/or visa with you
Traveling wisely and being aware of your surroundings when discovering new lands, especially if it's for the first time, will help you immensely in creating a smooth and memorable trip. Having some sort of ID with you at all times during your European vacation (or anywhere you travel to) is important and it's always best to have at least a photocopy in your bag just in case. Keep it inside a hidden coat pocket, or deep down inside your purse or backpack where it cannot be easily seen. Just like using your driver's license to verify your credit card or your age when buying your favorite bottle of wine, you may be asked for some kind of identification from purchasing new clothes to buying a train ticket, etc. Plus, in worst case scenarios, reporting suspected identity theft from a stolen photocopy is not the same as having to report and replace a stolen passport. Check before you travel or ask when you check-in at the airport or your hotel if a photocopy of your passport and/or visa is just as good as the real thing - usually it is
Learn some of the local language (at the minimum please & thank you)
How amazing is it to know that you can travel from London to Paris to Munich to Barcelona all within one trip to Europe! So many countries, so many cultures, and so many languages all neighboring each other. With my experience in travel adventures, no matter where you go, the locals do appreciate it when you know a word or two of their native language. It shows a kind of respect and appreciation for visiting their country. Don't make the mistake that everyone knows English. Sure, perhaps in popular restaurants and at the hotel, but what if you venture outside of the big city and into the countryside or to a small village? Being prepared with at least the basics - hello, please, thank you, goodbye - can work wonders when communicating and receiving the answers or help you were looking for. And don't worry, it doesn't have to be perfect. Just the attempt and try will most likely be appreciated by the person you're speaking with. There are plenty of language apps and websites to help you, and creating a small language notebook or journal adds to the excitement and fun in experiencing and remembering all those great memories when you look back
Research places off the beaten path
I've learned over the course of my travels that there is fun in not having everything planned out before arriving to your destination. But in order to have some not-so-touristy adventures and walking off the beaten path, a little bit of research can be done to at least have an idea of what kind of vibe and feeling your trip will be. Of course, you can do the research at any moment before or during your trip to Europe, but if you're someone like me, I like to write things down in my little notebook so I don't forget or miss out on anything I've found. Also, take a chance and ask your server, hotel concierge, or tour guide for their favorite go-to spots. I've found some of the best restaurants this way during my trips to Amsterdam, Venice, and all around current place I call home, France.
Plan ahead to know how to get to your accommodations
The quicker you arrive and check-in to your room, the quicker you'll be able to get out and explore. Planning ahead will save you a lot of time and unwanted stress in your new surroundings. I wasted a complete full day (out of a 4-day trip) trying to find the hotel I had reservations at during my first time in Rome. Although I did get the chance to walk down some beautiful streets in the process, even stumbling upon an old tramway that I had no idea existed, but during the search, I wasn't really thinking about those things. When I finally arrived at the hotel, it wasn't in the location the website had described, which was supposed to be in the city center, but in fact, it was in the outskirts just outside the center along a busy two-lane road. It wasn't until checking in that I realized there was a bus transfer twice daily from the hotel to the nearest subway station and vice-versa. So now I've learned it's definitely worth knowing where to go before you go.