Prepare for your trip by learning
as much as you can about your destination before you go. The more
you know, the better able you will be to immerse yourself in the culture
when you arrive. Learn about the people and their traditions. Experience
their music and cuisine. Read novels and watch movies set in your
Prepare for your trip by considering practical
is the best time to go to Europe?
Any time is a great time somewhere in Europe.
If you intend to really experience Europe as Europeans do, you need
to be there when Europe is most itself. That could be mid-winter in
Scandinavia when the days are very short and snow drifts in the streets.
That could be during the month before Christmas when Central European
cities celebrate with wonderful Christmas markets. It could be in
September when the Oktoberfest occurs in Munich and everyone has a
great time party-ing. But, you might want to pick a season that offers
the best prices or the finest weather. In that case, see
When is the "best"
time to go?
your passport current? Every
country in Europe requires visitors to possess a valid passport. Generally,
most countries require that the passport have at least six months
left on it after the date you expect to depart from the country. That's
because they don't want you to be stranded without a valid passport
which could happen if your passport expires before you leave. Some
countries require your passport have a year left before expiration.
Check with your travel
agent to find out.
you need a visa? Probably
not unless you are going to Egypt (which is in Africa rather than
Europe but may be a stop on a Mediterranean cruise or a multi-country
tour). Check with your
travel agent to find out.
to be safe - With a bit of forethought
and awareness during your trip, you can increase your safety and have
a much more hassle-free trip.
jet-lag - It can be done; let me tell
matters - For almost everyone
going to Europe, using your ATM card is the best (and least expensive)
way to obtain Euros, British Pounds, and other European currency.
Prepare by checking with your bank to make sure your ATM card will
work in Europe. If your PIN is not four digits, change it so that
it is only four digits as that is the standard at ATMs throughout
Europe (and most of the rest of the world).
you need an International drivers licence?
Check with your rental car company. The purpose of an International
drivers license is to translate what is on your US drivers license
in places where the Roman alphabet is not used or where English is
not widely understood. In Western Europe neither of those factors
are issues. But some rental car companies may insist you have an international
drivers license. If that is the case, go to AAA and get one.
your doctor - Wherever you travel,
you want to make sure your health is optimal to allow you to enjoy
your trip to the fullest. There are some special reasons to visit
your doctor, such as if you have an orthopedic
light! - Your goal should be to have
only a carry-on bag and no checked luggage. Even on a cruise you don't
need to haul all your possessions with you. No one ever returns from
a trip saying, "I wish I'd have taken more clothing." Rather,
the opposite is true. If you think you might need something, leave
it home. Take only those items that you know you will need and be
miserable without. If it turns out you really do need something, use
that as an excuse to buy it while on your trip. That way, you will
have a wonderful souvenir when you return home. And you will get a
chance to shop like a European. But most of all, you will save your
back, you will have fewer bags to watch out for during your trip,
you will be able to go sightseeing while lugging your bag with you
(there are very few luggage storage facilities any more).
Send an email
to Carole to request a packing list to help you to pack light.
ready to go through airport security -
You can reduce the aggravation of going through the security checkpoint
at the airport by paying attention to what you pack (nothing that
could be used by a weapon if you had sufficient imagination) and how
you pack (make it easy for your bag to be inspected by putting your
belongings into clear plastic bags or packing cubes). Make sure your
shoes are easy to remove and that you are wearing socks without holes.
Carry your boarding pass and passport in a readily accessible, secure
place. A pouch that hangs from your neck works very well. A small
"fanny pack" worn in front is a good alternative. At the
very least, wear a jacket or sweater with pockets so that you can
easily reach your boarding pass and passport when necessary. Being
prepared will speed up the process of going through security so you
will have less chance of missing your plane, will have time to relax
before the flight, and will generally start the trip off right.
Lotion - countless thousands of travelers are delayed
at U.S. airports every year by the most unlikely of culprits: hand
lotion. Some hand lotions contain glycerides, which trip alarms on
one kind of explosive detection machine that is widely used to screen
checked luggage at U.S. commercial airports including Los Angeles
International Airport. Federal security authorities are aware of the
hand lotion issue, said Suzanne Luber, a spokeswoman for the Transportation
Security Administration. "It does delay the process," Luber
said. But the TSA has not asked people to refrain from moisturizing
before packing or handling their bags because not all luggage goes
through the machines that react to the glycerides, she said.
Decide for yourself if you want to risk delays
passing through airport security by using hand lotions containing