Let’s say you’ve got your trip all planned out: you found a great price on Travelodge.co.uk for hotels and have booked a big European vacation around it. There are some key differences
Preparing for travel abroad can be both exciting and overwhelming. Practical planning is essential if you want to make the most out of your trip, and enjoy all the sightseeing. These five tips will help you travel smart.
1. Bring a Travel Power Converter.
These can be easily ordered from most online retailers, and it’s best to buy one beforehand, so you can get exactly the adapter you need. A good resource is power-plugs-sockets.com, which lists the power adapter requirements for almost every country in the world, including type, volts, and Hertz. The U.S. to Europe conversion is usually 110 to 220. Most of the countries in Europe will use the same power outlets, with the exceptions of Switzerland and Italy, whose outlets vary slightly with three prongs instead of two.
2. Learn about the Schengen Zone
If you are planning to travel between countries, learn about the Schengen Zone is, and what countries are included in it. For example, Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland are part of the Schengen zone, meaning you can cross into these countries freely. On the other hand, Ireland, the UK, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Cyprus are not part of the Schengen Zone, so you need to have your passport checked when crossing into these countries from other European states. Visit the European Commission’s Migration and Home Affairs website to verify any questions you have about border crossing during your European vacation.
3. Ensure all your travel documents and identity papers are in order.
Double-check that your passport is still valid and will remain so up to three months after your arrival date in the Schengen Zone. With an American passport, you have the right to travel freely throughout this zone for up to 90 days, so they will verify that your passport is valid for the duration of those 90 days regardless of what your booked travel plans are. Bring along another form of identification apart from your passport, as well. In some cases, you will be asked for your ID as a guarantee if you plan to rent equipment such as audio-guides at museums, bikes/scooters/paddleboats for recreational use, or other similar rentals. Most of these places will accept an American driving license as a valid form of ID rather than your passport.
4. Pack smart, and for all weather conditions.
What you pack depends, of course, on your itinerary and which country you’re going to, but odds are you’ll be spending much more time outside walking around than you normally do. If you’re unaccustomed to living in big cities, then you might be unfamiliar with how a change in weather can ruin your day if you’re unprepared. If you have a rain jacket, you can keep moving about and stick to your schedule despite a slight drizzle without being too cold or soaking wet. Umbrellas take up space in your bag, blow away in the wind, and drip everywhere once you get inside. Light layers ensure you’re prepared for any temperature changes, going from inside to outside, or from daytime to evening.
5. Take safety and personal security precautions.
Large cities in Europe are full of pickpockets, so bring a money belt to strap to your person, underneath your clothes. If you are planning to stay in a hostel, or any shared space where your personal belongings could be left accessible to others, bring a lock for your luggage. Inform your bank you’ll be traveling and try to refrain from logging into your banking account or profile once you arrive if you can. If you must check your account, never use public WiFi. Enroll in the U.S. State Department’s Safe Traveler Program, which allows you to register your passport number with their system and designate someone as your emergency contact. Research common tourist scams online, so you know what to be on the lookout for; Rick Steves’ Europe is a great resource for this and many other practical travel topics.
This list is by no means an exhaustive list of travel tips, there are countless resources out there to check out. Remember to read critically, though, and review numerous sources when gathering information on traveling smart. The more details you have the better, and if you’re prepared you’ll encounter less nasty surprises and enjoy your vacation.