Travel. Your Way!

Travel

Tips

Traveling overseas can be stressful, unless you plan ahead and understand what to expect during your travels. These general guidelines don’t apply to every country in Europe, but this should at least get you started! Once you book a travel package with us, we will provide you detailed travel tips for the destination you have selected!
And, of course, we are just a phone call away if you have any specific questions to help get you ready for your trip!
PACKING: Since you will be traveling in between the various cities by train, just a reminder that you will be responsible for carrying your suitcases, through the stations, onto the platforms, and up into the trains. You will also need to place them in the overhead space, in between seats, or in small compartments near the doors. This to tell you not to overpack and ensure you are traveling with smaller suitcases that don’t weigh very much to make it easier on you. My recommendation is a medium sized suitcase plus a small carry on and personal item, preferably only the medium suitcase with wheels, so you don’t have to drag two items with wheels with both hands. I usually bring a small duffle bag or backpack as my carryon and then my purse. Medium sized suitcase should be no more than 26 inch size.
MONEY:  Make sure you travel with an ATM card so you can take out cash while there and contact your bank to ensure you will have no issues doing so. This is the best way to carry cash while there so that you can take out only what you need as you go. And you will need to have some small change to purchase small items as some places don’t take cards for small purchases. Use your credit cards when you can and note that Discover and American Express are not widely accepted throughout EUROPE. Visa and Mastercard are best. No need to exchange money before leaving. Note that you will be charged a fee for using ATM’s but generally less than exchanging money at exchange bureaus. For latest exchange rate: www.oanda.com
GRATUITIES: It is customary to tip guides and drivers (around the equivalent of $5-10 pp in local currency, depending on length of time they spend with you). You may also want to tip housekeepers at hotels. At restaurants, though not expected, if you get good service you can leave up to 10% gratuity in cash. Most of the time it won’t be possible to tag it onto your credit card bill.
TOILETS: Bring tissues with you for use at public restrooms as they often don’t have any. You may also experience that many restrooms require a small coin to the attendant to be able to use them or even a set fee. So keep spare change on hand.
WATER: Though water is safe to drink, it is best to drink bottled water to avoid any issues. Your system is used to different minerals and additives. Bottled water can be purchased at convenience type stores and supermarkets. Also note that water at most restaurants is served bottled and there will be a fee. They will also ask if you prefer still (no gas) or sparkling (with gas).
CELL PHONES: most cell phone companies offer great calling plans for international travel. Call your mobile carrier before traveling to figure out the best options. You may consider keeping your data plan active while traveling so that you can take advantage of useful travel apps, Google maps and more. Though Google Maps is also available offline, which we highly recommend for best functionality of this travel app.
WIFI: It is pretty much available at all hotels these days and most train stations, cafes, and other public places offer it free of charge as well.
ELECTRICITY: In Europe, the electrical current is 220 volts. In the US and Canada, it is 110 volts instead. Please do not plug your appliances directly into the wall, or you will get electrocuted! With most appliances, you will need an adaptor (what changes the US/Canadian plug to a French one) and a converter (changes from one voltage to the other, large box-like). Many travel appliances (including cell phones and laptops), come with a built-in switch to change the voltage, so for this you only need an adapter.
ATTIRE: Try to wear comfortable walking shoes as there is lots of walking throughout Europe. Layering is always a great idea as it temperatures may change from day to evening. Comfortable attire is best during the day for sightseeing and smart casual is best for evenings. It is not common to see the Europeans wear sneakers, flip-flops or shorts to dinner, though you may see tourists doing this.
SAFETY: Though it is safe to travel through Europe, especially in tourist areas, you should always be on the lookout for pickpockets. Crowded areas where tourists are abundant are the worst spots. Make sure you carry purses, wallets and back packs in front of you in these areas and keep your passports in the safe when out and about. A copy should suffice for ID purposes and your driver’s license can work, too. You should also be mindful of your belongings on board trains.
ACCOMMODATIONS: Europe has an array of accommodations to choose from, depending on your budget. In general, the star rankings don’t quite relate to the ones we use here in the US, but there are some great options, whether you are looking for city center locations or more countryside stays. Hotels will offer great services for those that prefer to have the assistance of a concierge team or front desk staff and like to have breakfast included in their stay. Vacation homes and apartment rentals are also available and often are a good choice for larger groups or longer stays but are generally on a self-catered basis.
SUNDAYS/HOLIDAYS: In general, they celebrate several more holidays throughout Europe than we do in the US, often there are public and religious holidays to consider. This will affect opening hours at museums, attractions, some shops, and even restaurants. Make sure you check on your destination before traveling to plan accordingly. Sundays, especially in smaller less touristy towns, can also mean closures throughout, as this is a rest day in most of Europe. Try to plan outdoor activities during these times and be mindful that many churches will only be open for services on Sundays.
TAXIS/UBERS: In much of Europe, Uber has implemented a collaborative app where you can call both taxis and uber drivers (offering a comparison on rates and availability) directly on the Uber app. Make sure you download it before you travel. It will only work if you have data service during your trip from your cell phone carrier.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Larger cities often have metros or great bus systems to get you around, though it is important to be mindful of your valuables as pickpockets tend to frequent those areas. For specific locations, we will provide you with details once you have your final itinerary. There are also regional trains or bus service that can take you to nearby towns or areas of interest with frequent and inexpensive service. Many of these services can be purchased online or at stations or Tabac stands, depending on the country.
RENTAL CARS & DRIVING: Manual shift cars are much more popular in Europe and offer the most value as well as most options in terms of car sizes. Automatic vehicles are also available in most locations at a premium. It is important to note that luggage space is often limited in trunks and it is best to keep things out of sight in back seats if visiting and parking in tourist centers. Rental cars can often be picked up and dropped off in different locations at a supplement, but doing so in different countries can be quite costly. Driving in most of Europe (except the UK and Ireland) is on the same side of the street as the US, though people do tend to drive a bit faster. It is advisable to stay to your right when driving slower and only pass on the left. There are tolls on most highways that can be paid by credit card, cash, or with automatic passes available in some rental cars. Insurance is optional and recommended and an international driver’s license is often required, depending on the country you are driving in.
TRAINS: Train travel is very convenient and often fast throughout Europe. Many major cities are connected with bullet or high-speed trains. There are also regional trains to consider for some of the smaller towns and cities. You will need to carry your own luggage around the station and sometimes up and down stairs, as well as onto the trains, so pack light! Tickets should be purchased in advance to ensure you get a seat.
FLIGHTS: We work with a consolidator that assists with ticket purchases and sometimes rates are better through us than going online and booking direct. We recommend comparing prices on airline websites and online booking platforms to ensure you get the best price. We can assist when you are ready to book. Always be mindful of the class you are booking into as economy class tickets (mostly basic economy) sometimes exclude luggage and seat assignments. It is best to arrive in the morning to take advantage of your day!
JETLAG/SLEEPING: You should try to sleep on the overnight flight or at least shut your eyes to get some rest. Limit the movies and reading that you do to ensure you arrive well rested. Once you arrive, most hotel rooms will not be ready (if you arrive in the morning), and it is best to avoid taking a nap to ensure your body gets acclimated to the new time zone quicker. Try to stay outside, moving around and enjoying the sun, a coffee at a café, a gelato while you explore. You can go to bed early that first day (say around 8:30/9 pm) but get up at a normal hour the next day and you should be ready to explore with little jetlag! Sometimes taking melatonin (per the recommendations on the bottle) can help, but also check with your doctor to ensure it is right for you.
SIGHTSEEING/TICKETS/TOURS: Many of the most visited museums have very long wait times if you do not purchase tickets in advance. Many have skip the line ticket options for pre-purchase and they can run out if you do not book in a timely manner. If you are interest in visiting a specific museum, let us know so we can help secure those tickets for you. Some tours already include tickets to these museums or attractions and we can help reserve these for you in advance also! Planning ahead is critical to minimizing wait times and making the most of your time abroad!