Here are some tips and tricks to help fully optimize your time, money, and safety while you explore this diverse continent.
One of the fastest and most efficient ways to get around European cities is by electric scooter or bike. They are user-friendly, easy to hop on/hop off and provide scenic yet speedy ways to hit all your landmarks and city attractions. Lime, Tier, and Dott are all companies heavily distributed around city centers to help provide fun and economic forms of transportation. Download the apps and set up your account before you arrive, so you’re all set to get exploring as soon as you touch down at your destination.
Book major tourist attractions ahead of time. Europe sees a whopping 713 million tourists a year, and famous landmarks and sights can book up months in advance. Make a list of the places you want to see, go on their website, and pre-book admissions for your corresponding dates. Always go earlier than expected as lines can get long. A good site for booking tours is www.getyourguide.com, or check out Airbnb Experiences for more unique local activities. www.airbnb.com/s/experiences
Book Dat Flight
Book direct flights through the airline that you’re flying. Flight delays and cancellations are at an all-time high with international travel. Booking direct may be a few dollars more than third-party sites, but you will get A LOT more service when it comes to inevitable flight delays or cancellations.
Don’t Lose Your Luggage
Whenever possible, travel with just a carry-on (most airlines give you 24’ x 20’ x 12’). The lost luggage areas in airports are increasing by the day with the sudden plethora of tourists traveling to Europe. Save yourself time, money, stress, and travel light. Repeating outfits is better than no outfits.
Trains are also a popular form of transportation within European cities. Some of the best apps to buy tickets and see schedules are OMIO, SNCF, & Trainline. Some are cheaper, while others provide more flexibility. If you plan on visiting numerous European cities by train, consider buying a EURAIL PASS. This will most likely end up being cheaper than constantly buying individual tickets. Have your Google Translate ready!
Some European transit systems rely on the honor system when it comes to tickets. It’s not enough to just buy the ticket —you must then insert and validate it once in the tram or bus. 9/10 times no one is there to check, but if you do get caught the odd day the transit police are checking, there are hefty penalty fines. It’s important to hold on to your tickets for the duration of your travel as it is sometimes needed at the beginning and end of your journey.
Keep Your Ish Close
Beware of pick-pockets (mostly in larger cities). Don’t keep valuables in pockets; carry them in small bags/purses that zip up and can’t be quickly grabbed off your shoulder. Be aware and always have a good grip on your phone, especially on public transport. To avoid any kind of scams- if anyone remotely dodgy-looking approaches you, ignore them, avoid eye contact and keep walking right past them.
No Overseas Charges
Check your cell service provider before exploring options for overseas data, calls, and texts. You can also buy a pre-paid European SIM card once in Europe. Orange is a great company throughout Europe with lots of different plans to choose from. Also, inform your bank/credit card company you’ll be traveling overseas so that your accounts don’t get frozen.
If you are a foodie, book restaurants ahead of time. The good spots fill up fast, and you’ll be lucky if an overpriced, touristy restaurant has room. Some of the best apps for finding good restaurants are TheFork, Tasteful, Grubhub, and HappyHourFinder. You do not need to tip in Europe (unlike North America) as most restaurants already include a 10 -15% service fee—but if you get immaculate service, please do so by all means. Alternatively, Lidl and Aldi are two of the cheapest grocery store chains in Europe if you’re either on a budget or don’t want to dine out every meal.
It’s hard to pee in public in Europe! Always subconsciously be aware of nearby Starbucks; they will save you. If you are so lucky to happen upon a public washroom, go even if you don’t have to at the moment. Alternatively, if you walk into a hotel or café confidently, you can usually get away with using their washroom without making a purchase. Always carry some small coins as most public restrooms will charge you as much as 1 Euro!
Don’t Get Caught in the Rain
The weather in Europe (like many places) can turn on a dime. Look ahead and pack accordingly with a wide range of clothing options. Bring layers and a light rain jacket, and avoid footwear you haven’t broken in yet – Europe is the continent of walking. Bring a reliable, supportive, comfy pair of shoes.
If you rent a car, always double-check if it’s manual or automatic. Most European car rental companies default to manual, and automatics usually cost more. Also, remember that many secondary streets and roads are narrower than in North America—so keeping your luggage and your car small is usually a good thing.
Europe has so much to see and do it can be tempting to rush around and cram in as much as possible. Instead, remember to take your time, live in the moment, and experience that certain ‘joie de vivre’ the Europeans do so well. Or join a SurfYogaBeer adventure like our Ibiza singles holiday, and let all the planning be done for you.
Edits and titles by Katie Bauer
Posted on Mon 25 Jul 2022 · by Laura Renstad