Planning on taking one of our Europe tours? An upcoming trip across the pond means many exciting experiences are in store. Whether you’re an accomplished globetrotter or a first-time traveler, there are a few important things to keep in mind as you get ready to go. Read on for a roundup of our top tips for making the most of your trip to Europe.
Pack smart—and light
Passport, check. Clothes, check. Camera, check. Plan out what you’ll need each day of your trip so you’re not tossing unnecessary items into your bag before rushing to the airport. One of our most useful packing tips is to bring pieces you can mix, match, and layer in order to keep your suitcase light! Don’t forget to look up what the temperatures will be in your destination, and pack for the weather.
Learn a little of the local language
A few words in the language spoken by locals can go a long way. Just trying the basics—hello, goodbye, thank you—shows that you’re making an effort to understand the culture in an unfamiliar country. Our guides to key phrases in French, Italian, Spanish, and German are a great place to start before your Europe trip. Once you’re on tour, don’t be surprised if you find yourself picking up some common expressions after hearing them in constant use around you.
Follow your passions
Art, food, scenery—what are you most interested in? While on tour in new cities and countries, you get the unique chance to find out how different cultures approach the things you’re most passionate about. When you travel with curiosity, you’ll likely be rewarded. For Go Ahead Group Account Manager Nicole, a music lover who collects instruments from each destination she visits, that meant seeking out musical experiences while on tour in Europe. “When we visited Copenhagen, there happened to be a city-wide jazz festival taking place,” she said. “I was able to wander through the downtown area and listen to all kinds of new music—it was a pretty amazing event to come across.”
Keep money matters in mind
Call your bank and credit card company a week or two before you depart to let them know which countries you’ll be visiting. Remember to tell them about any cities where you’ll have layovers and may be making purchases in the airport so any charges won’t be flagged as fraudulent. Plus, read our pointers for currency exchange and European tipping practices too—it’ll keep you at ease to feel fully prepared about money matters while traveling.
Download apps to use on-the-go
If you’re the type of traveler who always likes to stay connected, there are plenty of apps out there to use during your tour. The Go Ahead Tour Companion app (available for both iPhone and Android devices) is personalized to help you before, during, and after your trip—from packing checklists to flight information to itinerary details. Looking to make calls over Wi-Fi, translate words, or even beat jet lag? There’s an on-the-go tool for making each of those things easier too—check out our recommended apps here.
Embrace the unexpected
One of the big myths of group travel is that there’s no free time on tour. With a balance of planned activities and time to explore on your own, our trips are carefully designed to be flexible. So after you get a local’s perspective on a sightseeing tour of a city like Paris, you can seek out your own experiences in its many neighborhoods. “Go with purpose but embrace unexpected opportunities,” said traveler Scott, who recently went on tour in France. “When you get to a new location, take some time to walk around the neighborhood close to your hotel,” he advised. “Find a bakery, a café, and a coffee shop that seem to be local favorites. Visit an open-air market and browse the colorful stands or buy some fresh bread, cheese, and produce for a relaxing picnic.”
Remember, you can always return!
It can be tempting to try to do it all—hit every museum on your list, visit every neighborhood of a big city, and see every iconic site. Our advice is to spend time savoring the experiences you do have. Certain destinations with so much to offer have a way of drawing us back for another stay.
A trip to Europe is exhilarating from start to finish, and every traveler’s experience is unique. What are your tips for getting ready to go and making the most of your trip? Share them in the comments!