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 Europe Travel Tips - The Not-so-obvious edition!

There are lots of tips you will read about from folks who have visited Europe will share or what Google will share, but I've compiled a list from my personal travels, client feedback and others. 



MONEY AND PAYING W/ YOUR PHONE

Most places accept the TAP to pay and Google Pay/Apple Pay from your phone. Load your CC into your digital wallet if you haven't done so already. Not only is it a quicker checkout experience, but you can reduce the chance of pickpocketing by not having to take your wallet out and hand over your card to pay for the transaction. Note -  You may need to have your bank approve your card being added to your digital wallet. 


TRAIN STATIONS

Holy moly. The train stations can be NUTS!  It's chaotic, busy and it can be stressful.  Don't feel like you HAVE to use public transportation and trains. Taxis and Uber work wonders!

Here are some tips for managing train stations in Europe:

- Research your train schedule and platform: Before arriving at the train station, make sure you know your train schedule, platform, and any potential delays or changes. This will save you time and stress when navigating the station.


Arrive early: It's always better to arrive at the train station early, especially if you're unfamiliar with the station or traveling during peak hours. This will give you enough time to find your platform and get settled before your train departs.


Use the information desk: Most train stations have an information desk where you can ask for help with directions, train schedules, and any other questions you may have. Don't be afraid to ask for help, especially if you're unfamiliar with the station.


Pay attention to signs and announcements: Train stations can be noisy and confusing, so make sure to pay attention to signs and announcements to avoid missing your train or getting lost.


Keep your belongings close: Train stations can be crowded, so make sure to keep your luggage and belongings close to you at all times. Don't leave your bags unattended or out of your sight.


Stay calm and patient: Train stations can be stressful and overwhelming, especially during peak travel times. Stay calm, patient, and courteous to others to make your experience as smooth as possible.



CHECK CALENDARS (and look for local concerts!)

Don't hesitate to look into concerts or shows that might be happening while you are at your destination. One good site to use for searching for concerts in Europe is Songkick (www.songkick.com). Songkick also provides information on ticket prices and where to purchase tickets. Another website that you might find useful is Bandsintown (www.bandsintown.com), which also allows you to search for concerts by location and date, and provides information on ticket prices and purchasing. Then of course there is always ticketmaster.com


STAY FLEXIBLE

Be prepared to change your plans if an attraction or area is too crowded. Instead, visit another nearby attraction or explore a different neighborhood.


Be patient: It's important to stay calm and patient when dealing with crowds. Remember that everyone is trying to enjoy their vacation, and try to be courteous and respectful to others.


Stay hydrated: It can get hot and crowded in the summer, so make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and taking breaks to rest and cool off.


Tag your bags and be mindful of your personal belongings. Always use the safe in your rom. 



AUDIO TOURS

Download Rick Steves or your favorite Audio tours to your phone. Go through the app and download audio for places you know you will be visiting so it's available offline. Stick one headphone in and learn about the place you are visiting. 



WATCH OUT!

It is important to approach the issue of beggars, street salesmen, and Roma (formerly known as Gypsies) in Europe with empathy and respect for their situations. Here are some tips to keep in mind when encountering these individuals:


Be polite but firm: If someone approaches you trying to sell you something or asking for money, be polite but firm in your response. Simply saying "no, thank you" and walking away is usually enough.


Avoid eye contact: Avoiding eye contact can discourage some beggars and street salesmen from approaching you.


Don't engage in conversation: Engaging in conversation or bargaining with street salesmen may encourage them to continue approaching you or other tourists.


Don't give money: Giving money to beggars can perpetuate the cycle of poverty and may not be an effective way to help. Consider donating to reputable charities or organizations that support people in need instead.


Keep your valuables secure: When in crowded areas, keep your valuables secure and out of sight to avoid pickpocketing.


Don't stereotype: Avoid stereotypes and assumptions about people based on their ethnicity or appearance. Roma, beggars, and street salesmen are diverse groups of people with different backgrounds and experiences.




OTHER HELPFUL TIPS


- Good shoes, good shoes, good shoes! Every time I've been to Europe I have ended up buying some sort of fix for my feet. Band-Aids, better socks, arch support, etc. The most miles I've ever logged in my life was on my Europe (& Disney Trips). Take care of those feet so you can enjoy every minute of your trip. 


- Pack compression socks for the airplane. Just in case you suffer swollen feet/ legs on your long-haul flights. This will provide a little comfort. 


- Take extra power converters. You might lose one or burn one up, and these are necessary to charge your electronics and phones. It's also important to note that the 2-prong Europe plug adapter will NOT fit into the 3-prong socket. The sockets look identical but you might break a wall socket trying to force it  in. Low and behold, the 2 prong plug will not go behind 80% into the 3 prong socket.


- Splurge for international phone service with international roaming. You will want access to Google maps and the ability to use your phone and travel apps. 


- Be prepared for crowds. No seriously, mentally prepare yourself for long lines, crowds of people at the train station near your 


- You like washcloths? Pack them. These typically aren't available at Europe hotels. 






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