Europe is a great place for a holiday break, but there are things that can mar your vacation. The lines are long, sometimes there are strikes, and people may seem to deliberately avoid speaking English. Customs differ from place to place, you can get lost, and tourist prices can be exorbitant. But you can avoid a lot of hassle if you keep in mind these Europe travel tips:
1. Before you visit a museum, understand why an artwork is famous. Do some research so you can appreciate these masterpieces better.
2. Visit major tourist attractions in the morning. This is when your energy is at its highest.
3. Make an advance reservation. Many of the popular sights may have long lines, and that’s because these people don’t realize that they could have simply made a reservation. So ask your local hotel manager which places sell advance tickets. These places include the Vatican Museum in Rome, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. You can also get advance tickets for the Uffizi and the Accademia in Florence.
4. Anticipate strikes. Most of the time, news channels or your local hotel manager can give you a heads up if there’s going to be a strike. These things don’t last long, however, with most of them done in a day.
5. Learn commonly used words in their own language. Know how to say the following lines in the language of the city/country you’re traveling to:
Hello, (or “good morning” or “good evening”).
Do you speak English? Chances are that someone will in your vicinity.
Where’s the toilet? Even the word “toilet” is understood by most people.
How much is this? It’s great for haggling.
“Sorry” and “please”. It pays to be polite—people are more apt to help you out.
6. Speak English slowly. A lot of Europeans do understand English, but for the most part, they understand British English best. So don’t use slang (especially American slang), cut down on the use of contractions, and speak more slowly. Pronounce your words clearly—enunciate.
7. Download an app for the city map. Guidebook maps are very generic, while foldout maps are so inconveniently old school.
8. Don’t bother doing the local gestures. While speaking the local language is always appreciated, you may end up looking foolish trying to imitate the local gestures. Or you may end up inadvertently insulting the people you’re trying to communicate with.
9. Go around on a bicycle. Many European cities are becoming more bike-friendly. A bike allows you to cover more ground than walking, and it also allows you to stop at any place at any time. Besides, Europeans tend to like tourists on bikes, and they’re friendlier towards you as a result. Encounter a fellow cyclist in a café and you’ll be able to strike a conversation very easily.
10. Don’t worry about tipping. Europe isn’t America, where tips are expected. Here they’re not expected at all, and at the most a tip of 10% is considered very generous.
With these Europe travel tips, hopefully, you will have a more enjoyable time in Europe.