1. Carry small bills and coins for tipping, toll roads, purchases at markets and to use the toilet. Don't call it a bathroom in Europe, as they'll literally think you want to shower or take a bath (important tidbit I learned from my Dutch hubby)!
2. Look for McDonald's! No, not for an American lunch! 😉 In most of Europe it's "pay to pee"- even at gas stations; so take advantage of a free spot! Moving on from the potty talk...
3. Get cash at ATM's. They aren't hard to find and usually have the best exchange rate (www.xe.com is a great website/app for looking up current exchange rates).
4. Use credit cards for purchases. Most credit cards offer better fraud protection and it's also easier to dispute a charge than compared to a debit card.
5. Contact your banks and credit card companies before your trip. Let them know what countries you'll be traveling to so your charges aren't denied. This happens often as they think your card or number has been stolen!
6. Be aware of Sunday or mid day closures. Especially in the south of Europe with their culture of later dinners - shops closing during the mid afternoon (especially in Italy and Spain) isn't uncommon. If you're traveling and visiting places of religious importance - many of those sites may be closed on Sundays.
7. Know where and when pre planning and tickets are needed. Some of the most visited sites in Europe will have extremely long lines if tours or tickets are not set up ahead of time (no matter the time of year). This also goes along with knowing days that popular attractions may be closed. You'll never have to worry about this when working with me - as I'll take care of these details for you and you'll have "skip the line" experiences! 🙂
8. Most of the hotel rooms in Europe are much smaller in size compared to in the U.S. It's very difficult to find rooms that accommodate larger size families, so be prepared to need 2 rooms. Also, it's not unusual for the beds to be smaller and beds that "convert" into a king size.
9. Air conditioning is not common in all hotels. In 2018 and 2019 Europe experienced it's hottest summers on record. This is a very important details to be aware of, as us American's are spoiled with our a/c. 😉
10. Don't expect ice served in your beverages. Along with this bit of advice - also keep in mind there aren't free refills on beverages in Europe. If you order water they'll bring you bottled water (and ask if you prefer bubbles or no bubbles). Some places will serve tap water, but this isn't the norm.
11. Keep in mind smoking is more prevalent in Europe. You'll need to accept that smoking is allowed in more public places than in the States (for example most outside terraces at restaurants).
12. Make sure your passport is current and you have a visa if needed. You should always travel with a passport that has at least 6 months left before it expires (from the last date of your trip). Many countries have this rule for entry. For the most up to date travel guidelines for U.S. citizens (per country) go to www.travel.state.gov.
13. Activate your carrier's international cell phone plan. Some companies will automatically do this when you travel, but be sure to check before you depart - so you aren't surprised with those expensive roaming charges!
14. Don't schedule every minute of your day. I know...this is one of the hardest things to do. With our limited vacation time - most of us want to see and do it all! I can't stress enough what a more enjoyable trip you'll have if you aren't constantly running. Some of my favorite memories of traveling in Europe weren't planned!
15. Talk to the locals. Last but not least - mingle with the locals. This is how you'll find those interesting off the beaten places and the most authentic restaurants suggestions.
If you'd like to read more about traveling in Europe - click here to read my blog "Discovering Your Travel Style for a European Vacation".
Until the next adventure - bon voyage!