There has been a huge surge of bookings to Europe this summer. Despite the war in Ukraine and the ongoing uncertainty with Covid restrictions, Americans are traveling abroad in record numbers. If you're making your first trip to Europe, avoid these mistakes to minimize the stress of traveling, while also saving time and money.
Avoid Using Cabs
Most major European cities have very reliable public transportation, so use it as soon as you arrive. Not only will it give you a better feel of the area, you’ll save money by avoiding high cab fares. And if there’s ever an option to walk, and you're able, don't miss a chance to experience the historic streets.
Purchase Attraction Tickets Before You Arrive
Waiting to get museum or popular sight tickets when you’re in the destination is a bad idea. Waiting until the last minute, especially in cities like Rome and Paris, will put you in very long lines. You'll also find that many venues and attractions reach capacity and tickets are no longer available. Book in advance so that you can see everything you want.
Don't Settle for the First Restaurant You See
Don't choose your restaurants by walking down a busy tourist street. You'll overpay and the food won't be as good as you hoped. Do your research and make reservations where the locals eat. It will be more affordable and much better tasting!
Don't Carry a Lot of Cash
Most places in major cities take credit cards. Use a card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. It's worth signing up for one before your trip if you find you don't have one. (Be aware that many places in Europe don't accept American Express.) It's always good to carry some cash, but not too much. Europe is famous for its pickpockets.
Don't Spend All Your Time Indoors
Europeans love eating and drinking outdoors, so do as they do. Bring along a picnic blanket, pick up some food at a local grocery store, and have one of your meals at a plaza or by a river. It’s a budget-friendly and fun way to switch things up so you aren't constantly eating out.
Don't Forget to Check Your Phone Plan
More mobile carriers are adding international roaming with their plans. Read through your plan’s details or give the company a quick call a few days before leaving to see if you have data abroad. Don’t miss out on being able to use your Google Maps app.
Don't Automatically Order Bread and Water
Unlike U.S. restaurants, in Europe they’re usually not free and can quickly add up on your bill. Unless you’re sure you want it, make it a point to say no to that bread basket once you sit down. Unless it's your choice of beverage with your meal, decline the water also.
Claim Your Refund
If you went shopping in Europe, you may be eligible for a VAT refund. All you need to do is ask the retailer for the proper documentation and show it to the proper agents at the airport. The exact processes may work differently in each country, but getting money back makes them all worth a try.
Pack for Comfort
No matter where you’re off to, there will be walking involved and it’s important to pack accordingly. Exploring in uncomfortable clothing or footwear is not fun. Consider also that many churches and cathedrals require that shoulders and knees be covered.
Even if you remember all the things on this list, there will likely be some bumps along the road. Just remember that's part of traveling and at the end of the day, you’re on vacation- and probably somewhere beautiful. Take a deep breath, and enjoy yourself.