Trekking across Europe will be one of the greatest experiences of your life. However, it’s good to be aware of a few things that may go awry while you’re wanderlusting. Each time I visit Europe I learn something new. Currently, I’m on a 2 month European adventure and I’ve already learned a few more quirks, including that I’m a favored plat du jour to Parisian mosquitos. Having said that, there are a few things you should definitely be aware of when planning your trip. From customary differences to comfort, here are a few pointers that will make your trip more enjoyable.
Buy Plug Converters
This one is basic and especially important for the beginner travelers out there. Each country has their own set of plugs, so you will need plug converters. Never attempt to plug an American plug into a foreign plug unless you want to fry your electronics. I recommend buying plug converters on Amazon ahead of time because they’re cheaper online and they can be more difficult to find and more expensive once you arrive at your destination.
AC is Not Plentiful
If you’re visiting Europe in the summer, be aware that they are not big on air conditioning. This means that you will often be sweating it out while sipping your warm rose at that romantic cafe in Paris or while riding the subway. Pile on the deodorant because you will be HOT. Often. Pack accordingly and prepare for many sweaty adventures. Also, it’s wise to check ahead of time that everywhere you’re staying has AC. Since air conditioning is not the standard, you will need to specifically inquire that your accommodations have AC.
They tend to charge for everything; bathrooms, water, bread, breathing (just kidding). Just be aware if a waiter asks you in Italy if you want bread or a different kind of cheese on your pasta. They don’t disclose it, but they charge you for it. So, ask ahead of time if there is a charge. Also, always carry euros with you. Most public bathrooms charge .50 to 1 euro to use. You don’t want to get in a pinch if you show up to a bathroom with no money. There’s not a lot of sympathy money-less tourists and they simply won’t let you in! (Yes, this happened to me just the other day.)
Tipping is Tricky
Some places don’t accept tips and some add it automatically to the bill. Just be aware that tipping standards are very different than in the U.S. However, most of the time servers appreciate if you tip them -even if it’s not required. However, in some places tipping is considered “offensive.” So, it’s advisable to research tipping customs beforehand.
Basically all European mosquitos sustain themselves on unsuspecting tourists. These mosquitos love foreign blood- as I find that the only ones complaining about getting eaten alive are tourists. Buy a citronella candle and PLENTY of bug repellent. It’s also very common for many places in Europe to keep the windows open all the time (again, they’re not big on air conditioning), so mosquitos tend to be lurking everywhere. It’s advisable to ask house keeping in your hotel to keep the windows closed when they clean your room. Otherwise you may come back to a family of mosquitos just waiting to make you their midnight snack. (Yes, this has happened to me multiple times.)
While I admit I’m especially practical, packing comfortably when you travel anywhere is everything. You’ll likely be doing plenty of walking and sightseeing and you don’t want to be in blister inducing shoes or sweat provoking fabric. It will make your trip and life much more difficult if you’re overdressed and uncomfortable. Besides, believe it or not, no one is really walking around in elaborate outfits wearing 6 inch Christian Louboutins in most cities in Europe -Paris included. Pack sneakers, flat sandals, and light fabrics like cotton and linen to stay cool.