1. You need to validate your ticket in public transportation.
In most American states you just need to buy the ticked for the bus/train and you’re good to go, but in most European countries you need to buy a ticket and then validate it inside the bus or train. If you think you can just buy one ticket and ride with it several times without getting caught, you are wrong. Officers authorized to check tickets will surely get to you at one point and then you will have to pay some serious amount of money for the fine, and go to the police station as well. You don’t need that on your travels, so avoid things like this.
2. Always pay in local currency.
You brought dollars from home and you think if you pay with your money you will get a better or an equal deal? Wrong. When you buy things at stores the salesman will probably ask you whether you want to pay in dollars or in Euros (or some other currency they use). Your best option is to exchange your money at an exchange office and always pay in local currency, because you will probably get ripped off if you don’t. Also, when you exchange your money, find a reliable exchange office – it is best to ask the locals which ones are alright, because you never know who will try to scheme you.
3. Airline carry-on restrictions are ever-changing.
Recently, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), a group which represents around 85% of all air traffic, suggested that airlines should require carry-on bags to be 20% smaller than it is currently permitted. This would mean that you would have to pay more for your luggage. Since these rules are constantly changing, in order not to have to pay a lot more money for the things you bring with you, check the Transportation Security Administration’s website to see how much luggage you can bring along and what things are forbidden on the plane.
4. Europe is big.
Most Americans think that they will be able to tour the entire continent during the course of ten days. Well, Europe is pretty big. Not as big as the U.S., but it still has a lot of different interesting places to visit, and you should give yourself time to explore and not rush from one place to another. Also, one city or country can’t be really experienced in one day, so plan to change your destination every 2-3 days. If you’re going to one country in Europe and planning to spend your entire trip there, then try to enjoy it as much as possible and experience the spirit and the culture in your own pace.
5. European countries have a long and rich history.
Almost all the countries in Europe are very old, which also means that their heritage and history are rich and usually worth reading or hearing about. The architecture you will see in the European cities you visit is usually traditional, the streets are often cobbled, and people hold onto their traditions also when it comes to food and drinks. All in all, history enthusiasts will have a ball. It wouldn’t hurt to read on the history of the place you’re going to, so you would have a better and richer experience.
6. Choose where to look for information (always trust the locals).
Trip Advisor may seem useful, but as there are many middle aged people who don’t have the same standards as younger people and what would be perfectly good for you – they give it a bad mark. Not always, but it is often the case. A much better option is asking the locals which cafes, restaurants, monuments, and hotels you should go to – that is your most reliable source of information. The locals will usually recommend places where they like going and know are good. Also, look for locals that are approximately your age, as they are more likely to have the same perspective and like similar things.
7. Your U.S. phone won’t work in Europe.
Don’t panic yet. This just means that you will have to contact your provider to enable international calling. Also, try to find a data plan which will be the most affordable, because these international calling, text and data plans can be pretty expensive.
8. If you want to rent a car, you may need an international driving permit.
Your passport and driver’s license are usually all you need in order to be able to drive in most European countries, but that is not the case in all of them. Some require an International Driving Permit (IDP), which is basically your U.S. license officially translated. It is not difficult to make it, but it requires some additional expenses that you may not have anticipated. Make sure you check which countries require this and prepare yourself on time.
9. Bring an extra bag.
When you go to Europe, there is no chance that you won’t return home with a bunch of new stuff, souvenirs and clothes cheaper than in the U.S. Make sure you bring an extra bag, because yours won’t be enough for everything you’ll be returning back home.