As you might have known, I just spent about six weeks traveling in Europe. I went to Switzerland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Monaco, and even Italy.
While I was here, I learned a lot of things that no one warned me about. I had to adapt to cultural norms and I had to learn the unspoken rules.
The travel guide simply doesn’t include everything you need to know. Yes, it tells you where to go and what to do, but it doesn’t tell you how.
Here are thirty things that I learned while I was in Europe.
- Most cities are strict on J walking
- If your total is under €15, you usually have to pay in cash (their currency).
- Don’t put your feet on the seats on trains. I would know…
- Swiss trains leave right at the time that’s scheduled. They are very prompt so be on time!
- You typically can’t bring your purse or bag into museums. They will make you check your bags for a price.
- If you are staying in an apartment and not a hotel, bring ear plugs. Just in case you are on a noisy street.
- Wear your comfiest shoes to walk around in. I brought New Balance and they were awesome, comfy, and fashionable.
- Wifi is sparse. If you can find a McDonalds, they usually have wifi for free.
- Bring your student ID ( if applicable) because you can usually get discounts at museums.
- Most stores have security guards to check your bags and purses upon entering.
- Allow extra time if you are traveling to another country- just in case you take the wrong turn or have to make a stop along the way. This happened multiple times to us and we just had to think on our feet.
- Always have your passport on hand. Most stores need you to have a form of identification for a purchase.
- Try to wear dark colors (like black) so that you don’t stick out. I wouldn’t pull out my Lilly Pulitzer…
- If you don’t speak the native language, know the basics- “Do you speak English?” in the native language is a good place to start.
- Have a zip up purse or one that is difficult for pick pocketers to steal from. Guys can use safety pins to safety pin their pockets closed.
- Have a tide-to-go pen because doing laundry is a rare occurrence.
- Bring a reusable water bottle. Some cities have fountains to fill up.
- Restaurants usually charge you for tap water- about €3 or so for one liter. This is typically in Switzerland and Germany.
- Most train stations have lockers to store your luggage for only a few Francs or euros. This is perfect if you are making a day trip.
- Keep all of your loose change because bathrooms in large cities will charge you up to €2 to use the restroom.
- Most hotels have a blow dryer for you if you ask the front desk. If you rent an apartment or stay in a hostel or guest house, you should probably plan to bring your own. Most blow dryers from the US don’t work with a converter because of the high voltage.
- Always carry an umbrella with you just in case.
- Have a portable phone charger on hand. You never know when your battery will die.
- Have a map to carry around with you just in case your phone dies, which you won’t have a problem with if you have a portable charger. ????
- Always carry a converter with you. Just in case!
- If you bring a separate camera from your phone, have an extra battery AND an extra memory card!
- Some people will just think you are ignorant because you aren’t native to the area or country. You usually can’t do anything to change their minds. Just accept it.
- Collect memories by keeping a daily journal, photo album, or video log. These are the best types of memories to look back on. You’ll be glad you have them.
- Drink a LOT of water to stay hydrated. It’s hard to remember to drink water, so be conscious of this!
- If you do rent a car, know that it will most likely be in stick shift. Also get a car that’s a size up. Aka if you have 5 people in your family, get a car for 7 people for luggage and leg room.
Thank you for reading! I learned so much in these six weeks while I was in Europe. Some things just can’t prepare you, though. My number one tip of advice is to be prepared in all situations! Have a wonderful day! :)