Choose the Shoulder Season
If you’re planning a trip to Europe, consider traveling in the off-season (November through March). These quieter months mean fewer tourists, often cheaper prices but still pleasant weather (especially in the Mediterranean).
Research Local Budget Airlines
If you’re traveling within Europe, there are many budget airlines that can fly you almost anywhere in Europe for little cost. There are often hidden fees and special baggage requirements, though, so make sure you do your research before booking.
Travel by Train
Traveling by train is a great way to get around most countries in Europe. Just make sure you validate your ticket before you get on so you avoid extra fees. If you’d like to travel by train, there also may be rail passes you can purchase that will give you a discount.
Don’t forget your travel adapter! There’s many universal ones nowadays, but if you’re getting one for just your country, keep in mind that the UK and Continental Europe have different outlets.
Meet the Locals
Shop at small, family owned businesses to really interact with the locals. If you’re headed to a city, chances are you’ll see a lot of tourist trap attractions and restaurants. To fully immerse yourself in your European adventure, journey off the beaten path.
Take a Siesta
Be aware of afternoon closures. Europeans really value their lunch breaks and siestas, depending on where you go. Make sure you check the hours of where you’re going to make sure you don’t end up somewhere closed.
Carry some cash on you for those small cash-only restaurants and local markets. And be aware of the local currency – not all European countries are on the Euro.
Learn the Units of Measurement
In Europe, they run on the 24 hour clock so it would be helpful to brush up on the hours, especially if you’re running late for a train or have a reservation. Tip: Europeans also often say half-six for 6:30 or any half hour time. Also, in Europe, the dates are often listed as day/month/year, decimal points are used instead of comma ex 1,000 is 1.000, the metric system is used and they tell temperature in Celsius.
Be Prepared to Drive a Stick Shift
If you plan on driving in Europe, you’ll need to know how to drive manual transmission / stick shift. Though automatic cars exist, they’re a lot harder to find and often more expensive.
Be Prepared to Pay for Water
Tap water and bread baskets are seldom free in Europe. Be aware that you may see an extra charge for this on your bill if you’re feeling short on cash. Tip: Often soft drinks and beer are cheaper than ordering water.
Travel with ibuprofen, just in case. It’s a prescription drug in some Europe countries, so you may not be able to pop into a pharmacy and get it if you need.
Get Your Bearings at Your Hotel
Floors are often numbered differently in Europe. The bottom floor is called the ground floor and what we call the second floor is the European’s first floor. So if your room is on the second floor in Europe, it’s actually on the third floor in America. This also means that anything below the ground floor will be a negative number. In a hotel elevator, 0 will often be the lobby.
If you don’t find your hotel lights turning on, check if you need to insert your hotel key into a slot by the door. Most European hotels use their key as a power source and you’ll need to put it in this slot to operate the lights and outlets of your room.
Check Customs Regulations
Look up the US Customs regulations before bringing back any food. There’s restrictions placed on meat, cheeses, produce and other food items brought into the US.