10 European Traveling Tips
Traveling to Europe can be the adventure of a lifetime. While you’re there, you can see some amazing sights, from the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the Acropolis in Greece. Making the most of your time in Europe is a challenge but taking advantage of walking tours and planning your travel during less popular times can help you have an enjoyable trip and save some money.
Avoiding Travel During the Peak Season
If you travel to Europe at the same time as everyone else, long lines and crowded tourist sites will await you and make your trip unpleasant. Summer is the peak travel season in Europe, with a large number of families taking advantage of school breaks to travel.
Planning your vacation around quieter times will give you a couple of benefits in addition to fewer crowds, including cheaper prices on airfare and hotels. Winter travel will give you space to breathe at the biggest tourist sites, but you will have to contend with colder weather. Fall and spring travel will be somewhat more crowded, but you’ll have better luck finding pleasant weather.
Take a Walking Tour
Walking tours are catered to foreign travelers and are often free. Taking a walking tour the first day you arrive in a new city is a fantastic way to immediately become acquainted with the city and learn about its history and quirks. The tour guide will likely offer some useful recommendations to make your trip even better. Plus, you might even make a few travel friends while you’re on the tour.
Avoid Excessive Planning
Planning every single moment of your trip can make you feel overwhelmed and stressed as you desperately try to achieve everything on your list. No matter how well you prepare, unexpected delays will crop up and interfere with your schedule. A loose schedule gives you the freedom to spend more time at a museum or change your itinerary completely based on a whim.
Do Your Shopping at Small Businesses
If shopping is one of your favorite vacation activities, then Europe has plenty to offer you. While the usual chain shops dot popular tourist areas, you can dig a little deeper and find small stores with plenty of interesting goods to sell you. By shopping at a local store, you’ll be putting money directly into the local economy. You’ll also have a chance of finding goods that would be difficult to find anywhere else.
Stay in Smaller Towns
If you stay in large cities packed with tourist destinations, you’ll likely face large crowds and expensive lodging and meal costs. For a different experience, try staying in a smaller town outside of the main tourist areas. You can probably find a number of charming bed-and-breakfast options with easy access to local cuisine and shops. Staying in smaller towns will also give you the chance to truly feel immersed in the local culture. You might even find a few hidden gems, such as an extensive flea market or intriguing museum, while you’re there.
Learn the Language
Popular tourist sites and nearby restaurants usually provide service in English. However, learning even a small amount of a foreign language before you go can make your adventure more immersive. Although you probably can’t expect to become fluent in a language mere weeks before your trip, you can aim to at least learn a few important phrases and words.
Books are a great place to start, but you can also use apps and computer software to learn a foreign language. Bringing a language dictionary is a wonderful idea as well.
Get Tickets in Advance
If you have a number of must-see destinations on your list, it’s a wise idea to see if you can get tickets in advance. Buying tickets early ensures that you’ll get into the places you want to see without wasting time standing in a long line. Popular destinations that offer tickets include the Palace of Versailles in France and the Picasso Museum in Spain.
Eat the Local Cuisine
If you’re not the most adventurous eater, you might be tempted to eat at chain restaurants or at places that offer familiar food. By skipping the local cuisine, however, you’ll miss out on a large part of the travel experience. Take a chance on a favorite restaurant recommended by a local; you just might find your new favorite food.
Stay Longer in One Place
When you’re traveling to Europe, you might be tempted to stuff your schedule with as much as possible. Although this might help you see a considerable number of attractions, you won’t get many chances to sit still and enjoy the moment. Alternatively, you can choose to stay for a couple of days in a handful of destinations. You’ll be able to see the usual attractions while enjoying places that locals frequent, from cozy pubs to hidden restaurants.
Avoid Making Yourself a Target for Theft
Thieves are always on the lookout for an easy mark. If you make it obvious to those around you that you’re a tourist, you just might be a thief’s next target. Try to blend in more with the locals by wearing clothing that doesn’t attract extra attention and keeping expensive items back at your hotel room. Don’t walk around a popular tourist spot with all your cash and keep your backpack or purse close to you to avoid losing it to theft.
Traveling smart while you’re in Europe can help you see all the sights you want without the stress of large crowds and worries about pickpockets. Before your next trip, make an effort to prepare yourself so that you can focus on having an adventure when you arrive.