What to Know Before You Travel to Europe

What to Know Before You Travel to Europe

You’ve booked your flights, purchased new luggage and may have learned a few phrases in Spanish, French or Italian. But don’t pack your bags for Europe until you read the article below. You may know the dollar-to-Euro conversion rate and 70 different pasta types, but here are seven lesser-known tips to make the most out of your once-in-a-lifetime European vacation.

Travel to Europe

Make sure your carry-on bag fits European overhead bin requirements. Most Europe-to-Europe flights require that your carry-on bag be no larger than 45 cubic inches, or the total width multiplied by the height multiplied by the depth of your bag. For most carry-on bags sold in the United States, this means most 21-, 21.5- and 22-inch-high suitcases are okay, as long as their total cubic inches do not exceed 45 inches. If you’re flying an American airline to and from Europe only, follow that airline’s carry-on baggage requirements.

Bring good walking shoes. This does not mean bring along the most comfortable flats you have or loads of pairs of flip-flops; instead, purchase shoes with sturdy arch support, and break them in before you go. If you’re looking for something more fashionable than athletic shoes, check out Merrill, Clarks, Born and Chaco for sturdy sandals that conform to your foot.

Purchase a Europe outlet adaptor. It’s a running gag in multiple movies: well-meaning characters try to plug American appliances into European outlets and short-circuit the entire building. Don’t let this happen to you ‘” purchase an American-to-European outlet plug adapter, available from multiple retailers online.

Obtain a European driver’s license. If you have a AAA membership, a driver’s license good for dozens of countries will only cost you $10 to $15 ‘” simply visit the AAA site or your local AAA office to find out how. You will need two passport pictures, which you can get from drugstores authorized in taking passport pictures.

Switch your cell phone service to an international plan. Usually, you can’t do this online. Instead, call your wireless provider’s customer service number the day before you leave to have your plan switched to an international plan, and then change it back when you return from Europe. You will only be charged a prorated rate ‘” just for the time you used the service.

Decide on your cash vs. credit card split. Most places in Europe take Visa, MasterCard and even American Express, so you don’t have to worry about converting dollars to Euros. How much cash you bring is up to you, but keep in mind that every dollar is worth about 1.4 Euros (as of July 2011). Check the currency conversion here. Make your daily cash budget for Europe and give yourself 10 to 15 percent extra for emergencies.

Make copies of credit cards, itineraries and important phone numbers. Leave the credit card numbers and itineraries with a trusted family member, such as a parent, in case you need to verify anything while you’re away from home . Write down phone numbers for credit card companies and that trusted family member and keep them in several different places ‘” in your suitcase, in your wallet and in a spouse’s suitcase, as well as the hotel room/cruise room’s safe. If your cards and cell phone are stolen, you’ll have the phone numbers handy to call and cancel them.

What to Know Before You Travel to Europe