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10 Note-worthy Things to Know Before Traveling to Europe

10 Things Worth Knowing Before Traveling to Europe
Traveling to Europe is on everyone's bucket list, isn't it? But if you are in the process of planning your maiden trip to Europe, this is definitely a must-read.
Renuka Savant
Last Updated: Aug 12, 2017
Think you can't afford a Europe trip?
• You can stay at hostels that charge USD 20 - USD 40 per night.
• You can eat at places that charge USD 5 - USD 7 for a sandwich or a pizza slice.
• You can sightsee using tourist cards.
• You can travel on a Eurail Pass.
There is this excruciating need to take a Europe trip which hits every twenty-something person. What is it about this (relatively) small continent that it always features on everyone's must-see lists? You see, Europe, for most of us who've never been there, holds a dream-like quality. We all aspire to get high in Amsterdam, lose our way on the Amalfi coast, blitzkrieg on the autobahns, and be dazzled by the northern lights.

Europe, therefore, is a backpacker's idea of heaven. It has on offer, something exciting for every aspect of our personality - be it the historian, the thrill-seeker, the shopaholic, the hermit, and even the skeptic. Your trip could be posh or even shoestring, but rest assured that Europe will give you your share of budget-appropriate thrills.
Tips About All Things Practical...
Begin at the Beginning
The very first thing to deal with is your paperwork, naturally. You need a valid passport, and by valid I mean valid for at least six months beyond your departure. You also have to hunt for information regarding visa application, and the process leading up to it. Remember that you need separate visas to enter the UK and Ireland, and the Schengen visa for 25 other countries in Europe. You also need to set aside a certain sum to pay for travel insurance, which is mandatory. A pre-travel health checkup is also recommended, since you're going to be away from home for a considerable period, and you wouldn't want a health scare in the middle of the most awesome holiday of your life.
Make a Plan
Yes, planning does kill all the fun out of impromptu travel, but you need to have a skeletal plan on paper so as to make appropriate financial arrangements. Europe may not be mammoth-sized like Asia or Africa, but the number of 'must-sees' are overwhelming, and not to mention, exhausting as well. You may want to consider visiting a certain part of Europe (Scandinavia, Western, Central, or Eastern) as per your budget. Keep sourcing information from everywhere - the library, Lonely Planet, and of course, the Internet. Europe has innumerable options when it comes to staying and traveling, so you have to take your pick from an array of B&Bs, hostels, apartments, or even hotels. Nail huge discounts for early bookings, and find better ways to use the dough. The same rule applies for booking plane tickets as well.
Learn Some 'European'
English won't get you too far on mainland Europe, so learning a few phrases of local languages will help you soak in the whole European experience. Even a simple grazie or a merci or a danke will elicit smiles and open doors for you. Engaging in conversations with the locals is the best way to understand the region's culture and spirit. Staying ensconced with your translation apps and GPS navigators may seem like a good idea if you're vary of befriending strangers, but you're going to Europe to experiment, to enjoy, and to blend in. Makes sense to make friends with the language, doesn't it? And really, don't be too concerned about how you sound, Europeans will appreciate the fact that you are trying to make an effort.
Don't Pack a Punch
As your trip nears, you'll begin listing out your 'must-haves' and your 'can-do-withouts'. And the must-haves are bound to be at least a million more than your can-do-withouts. A real dilemma on your hands, isn't it? Believe it or not, your 3 pairs of denims or 5 stilettos will seem like a load if you're going cycling in the Swiss Alps. Remember that you're going to be the one hauling your luggage from one place to another, so it would be nice to show some mercy for your poor back and shoulders. Consider the weather and the places you'll be visiting and pack your clothing accordingly. Inner wear, on the other hand, should be carried aplenty, because you may or may not get a chance to have it laundered regularly. Carrying a few snacks would also help if you plan to travel long distances, as many trains in Eastern Europe do not offer food on board. Always wear comfortable footwear - you'd be surprised how many distances you'll be covering on foot.
Some Forget-me-nots
There are a few things to be kept in mind the moment you step outside your country. The most important item you need to safeguard is your passport. Keep copies of all your travel and insurance documents in every piece of luggage you're carrying. Your passport, cash, and valuables should be carried on your person as far as possible. Ensure that you have your Embassy's contact information with respect to every country you will be visiting. Keep informing friends or family members about your whereabouts, so they'll know where to find you in case of any untoward incident. Your electronic devices will need converters for European sockets, and your cell phone plan needs to be changed to suit your needs as well.
Tips About All Things Essential...
Have the Time of Your Life
A Europe trip is a long-cherished dream; something of an accomplishment, really. So before you actually get to realizing that dream, don't be bogged down by fears like "what if I can't adjust to living there?" or "what if I get robbed?" or "what if I get kidnapped?". Leave these unsettling fears at home before you get on to that plane, and concentrate on having pure, unadulterated fun.
Girl in the background of blue famous dome church
Don't Just Think of Getting Wasted
If you aren't thinking of making this a study tour, then I'd recommend that you leave all your inhibitions behind and come here with a clean slate. Every European country that you will visit has a unique culture, mannerisms, and ideologies. Again, do not bring your pre-conceived notions along and expect all Dutch people to be perpetually high, or all Italians to be incorrigible flirts. Keep your mind open, embrace what Europeans have to offer, and make your own memories.
Manneken pis
Prepare to Be Amazed and Disappointed
There are some very unlikely places in Europe which will simply knock the breath out of your lungs, when you least expect it. This staircase in the Vatican Museum kind of did it for me. Then there are some places that come as a downer, perhaps because of the undue hype associated with them. All in all, do not expect the moon every time you get inside a museum or an architectural site. Instead, allow the place to spring itself upon you.
Vatican city museum
Think Beyond London, Paris, and Venice
Where do you think this picture was taken? Switzerland? France? Italy? Austria? Not a chance, love. Pictured here is Lake Bled, a few miles away from the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, a beautiful place in its own right. Now, each person is bound to have his preferences, but I'd really recommend that you set aside some time to get beyond the obvious when you're here. Thinking past the typical will also give you something to brag about when you're back home!
Lake bled
Make Use of All Your Senses
As tempted as you might be to look at everything through the view finder of your 50 megapixel camera, please don't. I understand that you have to capture your memories in that little black box, but don't forget to make use of all your senses to experience it. So, when you find yourself in a lavender field in Provence, watching a glorious sunset, don't just go berserk on a clicking spree. See the gorgeous color play through your eyes. Inhale the fragrant air wafting around you. And that's how you'll make a real memory.
Meadow of lavender
So, have loads of fun planning your holiday. And as you pack your bags, remember to leave your fears and inhibitions behind. Bon voyage!