There are plenty of tips and pieces of advice for travelling Europe that many people will be familiar with or easily find on most travel sites. Don’t forget your umbrella while in the UK, do not leave valuables for pickpockets to easily snatch, keep a close eye on your taximeter, wear appropriate clothing to visit the Vatican, etc.
Yet, there are small details that will come up in your travels that could cause confusion or trouble. Here are 5 tips that I have recorded from my time in Europe. They should prove to be useful, especially if you are planning your very first trip over to Europe. Here we go!
1. Where are the street names?
Unlike in North America, most European cities will have their street names displayed on the buildings at the intersections. They are not usually very big, so you have to keep an eye out for them! I couldn’t say how someone who is driving could get a good look at the street names, but if you do rent a car, perhaps invest in one with a GPS…But, if you are simply walking, a good map will do.
2. Validating Tickets
Whether it is a metro ticket or train ticket, all countries in Europe have some kind of validating system. What does this even mean? When you buy tickets for public transportation, it can be used whenever you need. You can buy a metro ticket today and not use it until next week, or buy a train ticket today and not use it until next month. The validation system ensures that you are recording your ticket use so that ticket can no longer be used again, or to ensure that you have paid for your trip.
Yes, it can be tempting to cheat the system to save yourself 15 euros, but it’s not worth it if you get caught and have to pay ten times that! So make sure you to validate!
3. No tax?
Many countries in Europe, tax is already included in the price. This applies to France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and others. This is both convenient and somewhat misleading (because you don’t know exactly how much you are taxed, but let the locals worry about that), but at least you will have time to count your change before you get to the register should you be grocery or souvenir shopping. It is excellent too, if you’re budget travelling so you can accurately add sums.
4. Donations for the School of the Deaf and Blind?
If anyone approaches you with a clipboard, ignore them and walk away. Seriously. Don’t even make eye contact. You will either be scammed or robbed. The people who do this will be dressed in all kinds of ways. Sometimes plainly, sometimes in a nice almost business-like attire, but they’re all false. I was approached by one of these scammers in Southern France, and when I refused to pay a donation, the person basically gave themselves away because it was clear they could understand me, and they accidentally gave out a sound of discontentment. At the Charles de Gaul airport I witnessed an Asian lady falling for the exact same scheme, and the female scammer was blowing kisses, something many young gypsy girls will do when they beg to make you feel like you have given to a good cause. Bottom line: Clipboards = stay away and keep moving.
5. To sit or not to sit?
In some European countries (particularly Italy), a drink, such as coffee or a beer, is usually cheaper at the bar than if you take a seat at a table. If you are wanting to save a bit, this is one easy way to do so.
6. Where is my dinner?
In Paris, if you are dining out, try to avoid having your meal at the same time as the French, as this will add greatly to the traffic of people in the restaurant, which means your order and service will take more time. Although, if you are not in a rush, I’m sure the meal will be worth the wait! Just be weary of getting hangry!
This tip also applies to any major tourist areas in high season. In fact, if you are aware of a well-known restaurant in a major city, make a reservation to guarantee a spot when you arrive. We’ve been turned away from a couple restaurants for not making a reservation!
Try to keep these tips and facts in mind during your visit in Europe! You will be glad you did! Do you have a useful tip or fact to make life easier while travelling abroad in Europe? Share it in the comments below!