Whether they’re planning a summer vacation or heading to Europe this fall to see the sights, it’s worth taking some time to prepare in advance. Doing so will ensure that the entire trip goes smoothly and that travelers are able to enjoy their vacations without having to stress about safety and convenience. Read on to find out about nine things that international travelers should know about traveling to Europe in 2019 to get started planning.
Having a valid passport is one essential component of any trip abroad. Just about every traveler or future adventurer is aware of this stipulation. What not all of them realize is that some countries require that visitors’ passports be valid for at least three to six months following their arrival date.
European countries tend to be very strict about admittance. So even if travelers only plan on visiting a new country for one day, they should make a point of ensuring that their passports will be valid for at least six months following the end dates of their trips. Know it’s time to renew a passport? Find out how to do so online well in advance.
Credit Cards and Banks
It’s important for international travelers to let their credit card companies and banks know that they intend on going abroad before they leave. Make a point of calling in advance and giving these financial institutions information about travel plans to avoid blocks being put on cards. While they’re speaking with their banks, consumers may also want to consider asking for a list of credit card partners that offer ATMs with no foreign transaction fees.
Many shops in popular tourist destinations take foreign currencies, but is it really a good idea to pay in pounds instead of euros? The simple answer is almost always “no.” It tends to cost substantially more to pay in a foreign currency, especially when credit cards are involved, as shops tend to charge higher exchange fees than banks.
If a shopkeeper asks whether a tourist would like to pay in pounds when swiping a card, the well-educated traveler will always decline. It’s also a good idea to exchange at least a little bit of cash so as not to get stuck without entrance fee at an off-the-beaten-path establishment.
European Health Insurance Cards
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is a must-have when it comes to ensuring peace of mind on a European vacation. Those who plan to visit England should know that their EHIC cards may no longer be valid in Great Britain due to Brexit negotiations, though. Find out what travelers need to know about EHIC after Brexit to ensure ongoing health coverage throughout that upcoming vacation.
Given how many different languages are spoken across continental Europe, few travelers will know the local lingo in every one of their destinations. While it can be helpful to learn a few stock phrases such as “please,” “thank you,” and “where is the nearest bathroom,” no amount of last-minute studies will replace a good translation app.
When looking for an app, make a point of choosing one that offers a number of different language choices. Even if this trip will only involve a week in Paris, there’s no reason to pay for one French language app for a 2019 trip and another German-language app for next year’s vacation.
Make a point of finding an app that works without the internet, as well. Even travelers who plan on purchasing international phone plans may not always have access to sufficient cell phone service to get online at all of their intended destinations. This typically means paying for an app instead of using a free one, but it will be worth the small investment in an emergency.
Pack an Extra Bag
Most tourists like to bring home at least a few mementos of their trips and many also purchase gifts for loved ones while they’re abroad. Few remember to bring an extra bag to accommodate these new possessions, though, which can lead to all kinds of stress when packing to head home.
The best thing to do is to pack a lightweight duffel bag so that it can be checked on the way back. Those who buy expensive items can always check their dirty clothes in the duffel bag. And bring their more valuable items in their carry-ons. Just make sure to find out about fees and luggage restrictions in advance.
Get a Rail Pass
Rail passes offer a fantastic, budget-friendly way to travel around for less. Plus, traveling by train is just more pleasant than traveling by plane. Make a point of purchasing a rail pass in advance instead of waiting until the trip as it will be cheaper.
It can be tempting to try to pack as many tours and museums as possible into every city. But that can quickly lead to vacation burnout. Instead, allow plenty of time for rest between activities. It will not only save a little bit of money but will also lead to a more enjoyable, fulfilling experience.
Just about every vacationer winds up spending more than he or she intended on trips. This is true of both the budget-conscious and the extravagant spenders.
No matter how many arrangements have been made and paid for in advance, it’s always a good idea to assume that the trip will run over-budget. Setting aside at least a few hundred extra pounds will ensure that there’s some money in the bank to deal with emergencies. Or just to buy a perfect gift for that special someone should the occasion arise. Plus, if the money doesn’t wind up getting spent, it can always be put toward next year’s vacation.
Vacations to the mainland are supposed to be exciting and fun, not stressful. Just a little bit of advanced planning can go a long way when it comes to avoiding unnecessary hassles. Follow all of the tips above and start making plans well in advance to make sure that everything goes as smoothly as possible on that upcoming European vacation.