Traveling to Europe can be a little daunting if it’s your first time. I know for me it was when I was traveling solo for 3 months. These are my top tips to know and be aware of if you are going to Europe. I want you to feel prepared and knowledgeable for your up coming trip!
- When withdrawing money always chose “other amount” at the ATM and manually enter an uneven amount (ex. $45, $75 etc.) in that currency so you will receive smaller bills from the ATM. Most shops in Europe use primarily cash and they always ask from the smallest bill you have. If you do end up with large bills split them when paying for a bigger purchase like groceries or attractions.
- Always have coins for public washrooms. If you are eating at the restaurant it will be free but if there’s ever an emergency, you will need small change.
- Download an off-line map to use when exploring the city, nothing is worse than being lost in a foreign city and trying to get directions. The one I used every day was Maps.me. It’s a great map, super detailed and accurate, it just takes a little while to learn how to use it properly so try it out at home first.
- Unlock your phone if you are from outside of the EU. You can buy a sim card at convenience stores for a cheap price.
- When dining in restaurants they will bring you bottled water and charge you so always ask for tap water. I drank it in every country, it’s clean and safe.
- The restaurants are run quite differently than North America. If you are going out to eat in a group be sure to ask the waiter if they can split the bill. Sometimes they will accommodate you but most of the time we were stuck splitting money.
- The price displayed at the store or restaurant is always the final price, the tax is already included. In certain countries it isn’t mandatory to tip either, so you don’t need to worry about hidden costs.
- If you are visiting from outside of the EU most visitors have 90 days out of 180 days to be in the Schengen zone before you must leave. Check the Schengen visa website to see if this applies to your country.
- When taking public transportation be sure to validate your ticket as you get onto the bus/subway or else you can be charged up to 60 euro’s if caught. Large cities like Budapest and Berlin, the transit control officers are always on the trains or in stations checking tickets.
- If you are a student get an ISIC student card to bring on your trip and you will get amazing discounts on top attractions.
- To find the best produce check local markets. The produce in grocery stores in Eastern Europe wasn’t maintained well, where as at the local markets it’s fresh every day.
- If your heart is set on a specific attraction look into buying your tickets online, it will save you time and money especially during the high season!