If you read nothing else before you go on holiday to Europe make it this. From how to stay safe to what apps you should download before boarding the plane, these are our top tips for doing Europe like a pro.
Before you go
1. Buy an international plug converter — then bring a power bar if you have lots of electronics to charge all at once.
2. Make sure your passport is:
- has more than 6 months left on it and
- has all the appropriate visas ahead of your trip.
3. Call your bank and let them know where/when you will be travelling.
4. Use credit cards over debit cards in case they’re lost/stolen so you’ll have more protection over your money.
5. Exchange a small amount of cash before your trip to save having to find an atm/foreign exchange when you first arrive.
6. Register your travel plans with the Australian Embassy and know how to contact them (from overseas you can call +61 2 6261 3305, or go online: SmartTraveller.gov.au).
7. Get travel insurance.
8. Send a copy of your passport and itinerary to someone at home.
9. Either leave room in your luggage for some souvenirs or pack a soft bag that can be used later on.
10. Sign up for travel alerts with Smart Traveller for any countries you may be visiting and brush up on local emergency numbers.
11. Don't forget to pack all of the toiletries/medications you could possibly need as these can be surprisingly different in every country and hard to find at times especially if English isn’t the primary language.
12. Download Google Maps and Google Translate if you know you will have access to Wi-Fi when abroad.
13. Download Whatsapp, Viber or Skype for contacting family.
On the flight
14. Beat jet lag by adjusting your watch to your destination’s time as soon as you get on the plane. This can help adjust your body clock accordingly.
More Europe Holiday Inspiration
While you're there
15. When tipping in Paris, keep in mind tax and tip is already included in the menu price and it will be shown on your bill.
16. Look into value pack tourist, museum and transportation cards — some of these allow you to freely use public transport with waived entrance to popular museums and tours.
17. In Europe lunchtime means it's time to switch off, and midday meals often go over a few hours. You therefore may find a ticket office or post office is closed from noon until 2pm. Factor this into your daily itinerary.
18. Hold onto your train tickets once you board the train/metro for random inspections, even if it is only a short ride .
19. Check to see if the bus/train ticket you’re using needs to be ‘endorsed’ or ‘validated’ before travelling. This is a practise that many European countries carry out and usually involves a hole punch machine.
20. Be mindful of your purse/wallet so as not to make yourself a target for pickpockets. Ladies, sling your cross body with your bag in front of you, and Gentlemen, take your wallet out of your back pocket.
21. For the best view of the Eiffel Tower and all of Paris, climb the 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
22. Talk to our Travel Experts about booking as much as possible well before your trip — especially in summer when flights, accommodation and tours can sell out.
23. Night trains are a great way to save money on hotels, but if you’re someone who needs a solid eight-hours of shut eye, maybe stick to hotels.
24. When in Copenhagen — 50 percent of citizens commute daily by bicycle. In fact, there are more physical bicycles than people in this city. Do as the locals do and hire a bike to get around during your stay.
26. 20- to 30-somethings, a great way to see the many islands of Greece and Croatia is during each country's respective Yacht Week. Every day you can sail to a new destination for exciting activities and parties.
27. When in Scotland head to the otherworldly Isle of Skye. You won't be disappointed, and you may get to see a hairy cow (no, we're not joking).
28. When in Spain, gorge yourself on olives. They’re considered the best in the world.
29. Home to 440 galleries, Berlin is one of the best cities for discovering contemporary art. Don't forget Hamburger Bahnhof as it's one of the most well-regarded and it happens to be housed in a former railway station.
30. Reykjavik may be the largest city of Iceland, but it still has a small town feel. Pull up a chair at a local bar and strike up a conversation with the friendly locals who will tell you to visit the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.
31. Many businesses in Amsterdam don’t accept non-European credit cards so remember to check first before you get to the register.
32. When in Poland, be sure to try Zubrówka vodka, which has been produced for more than 600 years.
33. When in London, there are plenty of free activities to explore, from markets like Portobello Road and Brick Lane to museums such as the Tate Britain and National Portrait Gallery. Harry Potter fans also shouldn’t miss the Hogwarts Express, which leaves from Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station.