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8 Jan, 2020   |   

European Travel Tips

Gap year student abroad in EuropeA new decade is almost here. With 2020 right around the corner, the next cast of Up with People returns to Denver, CO to begin preparing for their spring tour. They will be making several stops throughout Europe (stay tuned on our tours and events page to see where they will be going next).

Are you thinking of taking a trip to Europe yourself? Thankfully, we have a lot of helpful tips to consider when preparing for your European adventure.

European Travel Do’s:

  • Double check the luggage size that is permitted in the overhead bin on the airplane before purchasing extra luggage.
  • Pack lightly. Dress for comfort and focus on the experiences instead. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Get a travel rewards credit card. There are many out there that provide incentives like 0% interest, cash rewards, or travel points.
  • Learn the basic language skills of the country you are visiting. Know hello, goodbye, thank you, directions, and “Do you speak English?” Some will get offended, but unless you plan on making Duo Lingo a top priority for the next few months, get the basics down.
  • Learn about the weather. Don’t just check what the forecast says. You will need to know when the rainy season is so you don’t spoil your trip. Do the same for every European country you visit.
  • Find time to write in your journal and keep track of your adventures. This way you will never forget the incredible experiences you have had.
  • Talk to everyone. Traveling is about learning the culture and immersing yourself in it. You can’t do that by spending the entire time scrolling on your phone.
  • Wash your hands and prepare to get sick. Traveling will expose your body to different types of bacteria, and you may not have built up the proper immune system..
  • Bring a good pair of sneakers. Sounds simple, but it is essential for the amount of walking you’ll find yourself doing.
  • Buy a luggage rain cover. It will definitely rain at some point while you are there.
  • Double-check your belongings  before you exit every flight. How many water bottles and headphones do you think RyanAir now owns from other people leaving them behind?
  • Try to accept that things will get lost along the way. With that being said, your precious valuables should probably stay at home.
  • There will be stressors back home you can’t control. Don’t let them ruin your time or experience abroad.
  • Bring extra socks and underwear. If you think you have enough, pack more.
  • Keep track of what you spend. It can get out of hand pretty fast if you aren’t careful and you’ll be out of cash before you get to the second country on your itinerary.
  • Figure out your cell phone plan. For example, T-Mobile offers an international plan called T-Mobile One that provides unlimited talk, text, and data in 144 countries. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that the people you are texting and calling won’t get charged.
  • Be patient with language barriers.
  • The Dart and The Metro are two different rail systems in Europe. Both will close early, or at least earlier than you might intend. when thinking about how much money you want to spend on your trip abroad, make sure to budget in taxis and Uber or Lyft rides if they are available.

gap year student in europeEuropean Travel Don’ts:

  • Don’t wait to exchange your money until you arrive in your new country. Exchange rates and fees at the airport will be much higher  than finding somewhere to do it prior to leaving for your trip.
  • Don’t forget to hit the ‘open-door’ button on the National Rail! Not all trains and buses are the same and some won’t open automatically.
  • Don’t try to always figure everything out on your own. Set your pride aside and simply ask the locals. Plus, you are guaranteed to have a more genuine experience if you do rather than always trusting TripAdvisor.
  • Don’t think you understand the currency of each country before you exchange your money or start spending. Educate yourself beforehand so you are not stuck spending more than you expected to.
  • Don’t be afraid to ditch your clothes or some of your extra stuff. Besides, it gives you an opportunity to buy cool new things you would never have in your home country.
  • Don’t care so much about what other people think. You’re living life on the road and things get weird. Weird is fun. Weird is adventurous. Weird is what you will always remember.
  • Don’t be ashamed to ask for the WiFi password if you think it’s going to make you look too much like a tourist.
  • Don’t forget deodorant.
  • Don’t forget to keep in touch with your friends and family back home. They care about you and want to know you are safe. They may even love spending a little time in your shoes and hearing about your amazing adventures. Shoot them an email or Facebook message every once in a while to keep them up to speed.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “No thank you.” You don’t always have to take advantage of every opportunity if it means not taking care of your mental or physical health.
  • Don’t allow changes in your plans to scare you. Remember, things don’t always go according to plan and surprise adventures can sometimes be the best experiences you’ll ever have.
  • Don’t assume WiFi is easy to find, especially in Europe. Have a backup plan just in case.

This list is nowhere near complete, but it does introduce some helpful travel tips for those who are visiting Europe for the very first time.

Have any other tips to share? Put them in the comments below and help your fellow travelers out!


“Journey on, Journey on
You can’t stay where you are for very long.
Don’t give up, find the strength you need to journey on.
‘cause in the end, it’s not just where we go,
But how we get there and who we’ve known
On this long walk, together we will journey on.”

Journey On © Up with People

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