If you’re planning to travel to Europe this summer, I’m sure that you’ll appreciate any tips which will help make your trip smoother and less stressful. With Europe’s summer months being some of the most popular for tourists, it’s important to remember these tips so that you’re as prepared as possible. Please let me know what you think! Do you agree? Or do you disagree? And please feel free to share this blog post with anyone who is also planning on traveling in the near future.
1. When travelling, make sure you have a valid passport.
It’s important that your passport is valid at the time of arrival in any foreign country you visit. Some countries require your passport to be valid for either six or three months after your arrival date, but many limit travelers to a maximum of 90 days. If this sounds like you, it’s crucial that you start planning–right now–to make sure your passport is up to date.
2. Before you pack your bags, make sure that you’re only bringing the essentials.
When you travel, it can be difficult to fit everything you’re trying to bring. One way to make this process easier is by packing a thin, lightweight duffel bag in your carry-on or checked luggage. That way, if you have too many things, you can check more bags on the way back. Tip #2: If you purchase expensive items and want to keep them safe on the plane, pack your dirty clothes in the checked bag and place valuable items in your carry-on.
3. Combat Jet Lag
When switching time zones, the best way to combat jet lag is to get on the new schedule as soon as you can. Before your flight I recommend going to bed early and setting your watch one hour ahead of local time. Then, try to sleep and eat at times that would be appropriate for the time at your destination. If you take an overnight flight but don’t sleep well, don’t go back to sleep once you land—fight it! Try delaying going to sleep until 10 pm so you can get onto the new schedule as soon as possible.
4. Call Your Credit Card Company
Before you leave on your trip, let your bank and credit card company know about upcoming charges outside of the country. Tell them which day(s) you’ll be gone and where you’ll be so they can help secure your cards from hackers by placing a block. This way, when you get back, you won’t have any unnecessary time spent on dealing with the hassle of having to convince your bank that each purchase is legitimate.
5. Always Pay in Local Currency
In this typical scam, large retail stores will try to take advantage of you after swiping your card. For example, they may tell you that if you pay in US dollars instead of the local currency, it will save you money. However, this is only true when the dollar exchange rate is better for them – not for you! So always remember to always pay in the local currency of the country you’re in – not US dollars.
6. Avoid ATM Fees
If you’re traveling abroad, here are some tips to avoid international ATM fees. Bank of America says, “If you use a foreign ATM, you could be charged a variety of fees.” It reminds its customers that they can avoid these fees by banking at Bank of America or using one of its partner debit cards at another bank’s ATMs. So, if a customer uses Bank of America’s Visa Debit Card at an ATM anywhere in the world, they’ll be able to avoid both the $5 Non-Bank of America ATM usage fee and the ATM operator access fee.
7. Download apps like Google Maps & Google Translate to help you with your travels.
These days, few people find that they have difficulty communicating across distances. I’ve found that people assume I speak multiple languages because I travel a lot and never have any trouble. Sadly, I don’t speak very many languages at all. However, the last 15 years or so has seen quite a revolution in language comprehension from newer generations. All my travels have resulted in only one instance where I had difficulty speaking with someone, but luckily Google Translate (Android and iOS) was there to help me. The app is free to download and can translate over 108 languages (plus 59 more when you’re offline). It even has instant camera translation: You can recognizes text in images just by pointing your phone’s camera at it. This makes translating street signs and menus easier: Picture to-and-fro this 94 languages. Just point your eyesight on the device screen and watch as the translation automatically appears on your screen—just like that!
8. Check Your Phone Plan
To get prepared for your next trip, make sure you’re covered before you go! Contact your cell phone provider and ask them if they have coverage in the countries you’ll be visiting. If not, disable your connection or set it to Airplane Mode – WiFi is still available while the phone is off. T-Mobile subscribers should definitely take advantage of the free data – calls will only cost $0.20 a minute. Thinking about cruising? Follow these tips before taking to sea.
9. Get an Adaptor + Power Strip
With a power strip like this one, you’ll be able to plug in multiple plugs with just one outlet. This will save you from having to buy separate adapters for different countries and reduce your overhead costs.
10. Validate your train and bus tickets with the Eurail Global Pass
Reader Orit R. from Israel left this helpful tip: “I didn’t know this when I went to the Czech Republic recently – tickets for buses/trains can be purchased as is but they then must be validated before use.” A bus/train ticket in a European country can work on an honor system, which means you need to validate your ticket before using it. Reader Orit’s friends were tourists who didn’t understand the language, so they had no idea that their tickets needed validation and got a hefty fine. If you’re in Europe, don’t forget to validate your travel tickets.