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You are thinking of booking your first trip to Europe, and the excitement to explore through some of the most incredible countries in the world feels incredible. Even though it may be a short flight over, Europe can feel at times completely foreign. Whether it is the currency, tipping rules, or language, there will be a lot that is different than home.


Here are 10 tips for your first Europe trip

1. First and foremost, travel off season as much as possible.

The stronger the sun, the stronger the crowds in most destinations. Try shoulder season like April or May or late September and October for a slower pace.

2. Don’t rush! Take your time, and stay longer.

I think one of the biggest mistakes in Europe is hopping to a new city every two days. Take around four days in each city to truly enjoy it. If you make one city a home base, this can also help with not having to re-pack every few days.

3. Pick up a few key words in the local language

Even if your accent isn’t perfected, your effort does not go unnoticed (most of the time.) It helps to pick up a few words in the local language.

4. Train or plane, be sure which is the best blend of time and money.

Though the train may be cheap and efficient, sometimes a flight may be your best friend. With low cost air, a hopper flight can save you time and money.

Read: Train or Plane? How to Choose in Europe

5. Shop local

Stay away from chains, and often you will be in luck to experience the best local food and wine.

6. Don’t write off a tour!

I often skipped out on walking tours or food crawls, but as I have found out these tours can often help with getting situated, learning the history and more. This is a great introduction to a new place.

7. Pre-purchase attraction tickets.

I made this mistake once, and it costed me the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Pre-purchase your tickets to ensure that you get to visit the sights you want to see.

8. Blend your trips between large and small cities.

Yes Paris is incredible, but have you seen Annecy? A blend of both big and small cities makes for a balanced trip.

9. Pull cash out once you’re in town.

If you can, avoid exchanging money at the airport. If you can withdraw from an ATM, you’ll receive the best rates. Be mindful that some ATMs in cities have higher fees and always check with your bank.

10. Pick accommodations that are central.

I’d rather stay in a place that is not as nice that was more centrally located then a nicer place on the outskirts. Time is key, and being footsteps from what you want to do will save you time.

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

2. Book Your Accommodations

Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

3. Book Your Tours & Experiences

Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

4. Book Your Car

Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access

Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.

6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.

My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are:


Xx,
Jessica

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