Not only London is calling ( I love The Clash!)… the whole of Europe is calling its visitors with rich history, diverse culture and nature. Traveling to countries in Europe is a dream or wish of many to fulfill as soon as they get the chance. Beautiful sights are a blessing for the eyes and are one-in-many in the cluster of countries that comprise the European continent.
Europe has been the home of many civilizations throughout the centuries and has been the inventor of so many delicacies known around the world by now. It has seen ages of darkness in medieval times and has survived the test of time, now displaying its fantastic history and buildings with great pride and self-esteem. The temptations that await its visitors are endless and it is always worth exploring the continent of Europe as it promises to enrich your mind and soul. Especially American students long to go on a European tour and also backpacking through the continent after their graduation.
But what the trip holds for each one can vary from traveler to traveler. It differs in budget, destinations, purpose, and duration of stay. Whatever your trip may entail, European destinations have something worthwhile.
The best start for new travelers to arrange their European travel is to decide on a budget. The budget then determines the rest of the details of your European vacation.
The next step is to decide where you want to go and how many days can you devote to the trip. The accommodations and means of travel are decided subsequently.
Money, money, money
The first thing to give a thought to is how to deal with payments and money during a European vacation. Although there are many international establishments that accept credit cards and debit cards; one still has to exchange the sum to local currency if the travel is more local and immersed in local culture. Although it differs from country to country, the acceptance of credit cards in shops is not as developed as it is in the U.S., for example.
As not all of the European countries belong to the European Union, the main currency in some may be different (for example some Eastern European countries, Switzerland or the UK (part of the EU but own currency). Still, the Euro is widely accepted in all European countries, though.
Currencies can easily be converted at currency exchange booths or banks. Normally I just use my card in the local ATM and get cash in the country currency. Although there might be a percentage of fee when currency rates are concerned, but it saves you a lot of hassle and headache.
Note that ATMs and exchange shops at airports and tourist locations usually have a poorer exchange rate than more remote ATMs or shops.
Lost in translation
Communication barrier is not that big of a hindrance in Europe, as many speak and understand English and will be happy to speak with you and use their English skills.
On the other hand, this makes it more difficult to learn and use the local main language. Many locals switch to English as soon as they realize that you are not a native speaker. This is meant politely but makes it harder for a visitor for whom a local experience is important. Just tell them that you want to practice the local language and they will listen to you patiently.
In rural areas, it can happen that elderly people, especially, do not speak English. Here, hands and feet often help, if necessary there are translation apps on the smartphone.
Interesting fact: The level of English in European countries does not only depend on the quality of school education. An essential factor here is the film and television industry. Many countries do not dub foreign films on cinema and television, but show them with subtitles. This means that children and young people already speak impressive English.
European culture is very open and inviting, it is very easy to move from one country to another if you have the travel visa of Europe (Schengen Visa). If you belong to one of the visa-free countries, then all you need is your passport. The border-free Schengen Area is one of the biggest advantages of visiting Europe during a European vacation. Tourists are allowed free entry and exit without extended border checks and controls in countries that are members of the EU. Non-members need a separate visa to be issued or separate passport checks to be implemented. This provides a perfect event for exploration, adventure, and wanderlust of ambitious travelers.
Temperaments and culture in Europe are widely varying according to the geographical trends. As a general rule, however, the European people are easy going, festive and enjoy merrymaking. As a yardstick one can say: the more one comes to the south of Europe, the more temperament increases.
Europeans are also hard-working people and put emphasis on civility and mutual respect. This proves helpful to tourists as any help required is readily given. There are many monuments to their struggles and achievements throughout the history and the residents emphasize on any tourist paying proper respect and attention to the meaning and implications of the cultural concerns. Especially known for this are French, but also Greeks and Austrian.
A roof over the head
Once arrived in the intended European destination, accommodations are the first and foremost concern on any European trip. Accommodations can be found in many lodges, hotels or inns spread throughout the continent. International hotel chains provide bookings and the accommodations on the road can be found in cozy bistros, Bed and Breakfast Inns, Guesthouses and motels.
Pre-booking the hotel rooms when on a European travel itinerary is a good option as it is cost-effective and it saves from the trouble of overbooking when there is an influx of tourists in the European vacation season which is mostly summer.
Still, on platforms like Booking.com or Trivago you can get a good bargain with booking last minute since the prices drop.
Getting around in Europe
Travel in Europe is comfortable. Train, rental cars, bikes, buses within the city, and trams are the most used facilities during European trips when visiting cities. The preferences depend on where the visitors intend to go on their picture-perfect European vacation.
Nevertheless, there are differences in the train network and punctuality. Northern European countries are usually quite punctual and the vehicles of newer construction types. In Eastern Europe or Southern Europe, you may have a problem with poorly developed train lines sometimes. Here you should always check whether you want to travel at all by bus or train. Sometimes it can be worth taking a rental car and avoiding these hurdles.
If renting a car or any other vehicle, the tourists and travelers have to keep in mind that Europeans drive on the right-hand side apart from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus in all Europe destinations. This may prove to be difficult for the people visiting from the subcontinent and some parts of Australia and South Africa as they drive on the left side of the road. Difficulty in driving aside; the roads of European country are clean, built, and stretch to every possible location.
Hitchhiking is another famous mode of transportation during the European destination traveling however it is sketchy at best and only by chance is there the perfect vehicle available. If the budget allows, air travel may also opt for the European vacation.
Some low-cost airlines offer cheap flights between European cities. I have shared my best tips for finding cheap flights in another article.
The Charme of Europe
The charm of a drive through the European countryside is irresistible, to say the least. Europe is the finest specimen of perfect amalgamation. Its cultural integration over the many centuries has been sizeable and the ratio of immigrants has increased exponentially in the recent years.
This has led to the food from almost all over the world in all its glory and deliciousness to be available to all Europeans and to the travelers en route their destinations. Food from within Europe, but also from Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Australia has reached Europe and is available for fine dining, takeaway, and delivery almost all over the continents. In addition, the local delicacies are all delicious as ever, tempting the tourists to forego reservations in trying new tastes on their great European vacation. Along with food, Europe also boasts of ample seaside recreation in form of its artistic beaches. Brighton beach, Ibiza, Mallorca, Corfu islands, and La Concha Beach in Spain are a few of the many lovely spots where to leisurely spend your memorable Europe trip. Strong waves, beautiful company, warm climate, shell-shaped beaches; there’s almost nothing to want here.
The best relaxation possibilities are at the disposal of those who opt for the luxury such as this on their European vacation. The beaches are indeed perfect and a favorite of many travelers around the world. Therefore, the lodgings nearest the desires Europe destinations must be booked in ample time to secure a place to stay at the time.
The climate in Europe is inconsistent with the temperature changes with the movement towards the equator. Frosty winds of Switzerland, Finland and Russia are for those who are into the opportunities of winter sports or raw nature. Rainy, solemn London is a perfect place for shopping and romantic strolls along the Piccadilly and Thames. Sunny, lively Spain is a much better companion for festivals, bikinis, and reckless merrymaking. The beauty, food and history of France and Italy along with the hidden gems of countries like Austria and Belgium cannot be overlooked. Germany has its own charm along with Turkey and remains on the must-see list of every traveler.
Camping in Europe
There are many campsites in Europe as well, for the down-to-earth nature lovers. Amsterdam, Aachen, Bruges, Mainz, Prague, Vienna, and Venice are some of the very beautiful and numerous camping sites. Most of the campsites have an attached restaurant but the availability of all the facilities should be checked online as thoroughly as possible. Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, England is one of the many natural sites for camping and trekking through a natural forest. These are only some of the attractions Europe has to offer.
Important thing is to take time to explore Europe and breathe in its spirit.
Do not be tempted to squeeze as many countries as possible into a week or two. This is not a fulfilling experience and will leave you with more questions than it answers. It may sound strange to people from big continents like North America or Australia, but there is no such thing as “THE” Europe. Each country is different in itself, sometimes with huge differences in mentality and nature.
I wish you the best time in Europe and hope it makes you love it like it makes me love it!
Originally published at Wunderlander — Extraordinary European.