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.