Europe has quite the reputation, and for good reason. It’s got thousands of years of history, attractions, and things to do and see! But if you’re an American going to Europe for your first time, there are some things to keep in mind. These travel tips for Europe will let you skip the rookie step and hop right into being a pro traveler.
1. Cabs Aren’t Worth It
Most major European cities have robust public transit. Buses, trains, trolleys, and even boats can take you anywhere you need. Cabs might seem more convenient, but they’re a huge money sink. Multiple cab rides will add up very quickly!
2. Get Your VAT Refund
This isn’t something that we have to think about in the states, but European countries have a “Value-Added Tax”. Since we aren’t members of the EU, we aren’t required to pay it. But they’ve still got to take it when you buy things. So if you keep your receipts, you can be issued a refund for all of the VAT that you paid during your trip.
3. Get Good Shoes
If you’re going to Europe, you’re probably going to be walking a lot. So it pays to get a good pair of shoes. If you’re trying to hike around in flats, dress shoes, or heels, your feet are going to be screaming at you! And if that happens early in the trip, it’ll affect the rest of your time abroad.
4. Buy Tickets Early
This is true for all kinds of travel, but it’s one of the especially good travel tips for Europe. Book your plane, your hotels, your activities, everything in advance! You’ll probably get discounted rates on everything if you do. But even more than that, things might sell out if you wait too long!
5. Travel By Train
Europe isn’t actually that big of a place. If you want to see multiple countries, you don’t have to fly! Save money and hassle by taking the train. Europe has an excellent system of trains between countries, make use of it!
6. Know Your Currency
Euros are an international currency, but they’re not a blanket solution. Every country you go to will probably have some currency that you should be aware of. When my wife and I went to Ireland we actually ended up in Northern Ireland without realizing it. We were lucky that our lunch spot would trade us Pounds for some Euros or we might have been out of luck!
7. Spend Your Coins
Still on the topic of currency, spend your coins! European countries have $1 and $2 coins that you’ll get a lot of in change. If you don’t use them as you get them, you’ll jingle like a leprechaun by the end of your trip!
8. Carry Your Passport
Always keep your passport with you and somewhere safe. If you’re from out of the country, it’s your most important possession. Getting caught without it could put you in a crazy international limbo. And nobody wants that!
9. Register With The State Department
For the same reason, register your trip’s dates and destinations with the state department. They’re your friend! It’s simple and easy to do and it ensures that if things go south on a global scale, they’ll have your back. This is especially important if you’re traveling alone. If you go missing, they’ll come looking for you!
10. Learn Some Local Language
So many people go to foreign countries these days without bothering to learn any of their language. It’s important for a few reasons. For starters, it’s a great intro to the culture. If you get good, it’ll actually help you communicate with people while you’re there. But even if you aren’t any good, people will appreciate that you’re trying, and they’ll be a lot nicer to you!