9 Dos and Don'ts for Your First European Vacation

9 Dos and Don'ts for Your First European Vacation

Traveling to Europe 2024-06-04 ParkingNearAirports.io

Your first exploration of Europe should be an exciting adventure, not a source of excessive concern. While many European countries share similarities with the United States, there are still some cultural nuances to be mindful of. If this is your maiden voyage, there may be aspects you haven't considered. From overcrowded tourist destinations to etiquette mishaps, take a look at the following 9 suggestions on what to avoid during your inaugural trip to Europe. Let's dive in!

So which blunders can actually derail your next trip to Europe?

1. Passport refusal

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Traveling abroad requires a valid passport, but did you know that some European countries have specific rules and limitations regarding passport validity? Even if your passport hasn't expired yet, border security might still prevent you from entering the country. In certain countries, your passport must be valid for at least 3 or 6 months beyond your planned travel dates. For instance, if your passport expires in 2 months from your travel date, you may not be able to board your flight. Popular European destinations like Italy, Spain, Greece, and France have these types of regulations. It's always best to refer to the United States Department of State for the latest information on passport requirements.

2. Hailing a taxi

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While Americans often rely on taxis and ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, most European cities have highly dependable public transportation options. It's a good idea to research your choices before your trip, as you may be able to save a significant amount by choosing a train, subway, tram, or local bus.

Moreover, European cities tend to be very pedestrian-friendly, so if possible, consider walking to your destination to save even more money. In addition, booking accommodation in a central downtown area can be an excellent way to minimize your transportation costs.

3. Tipping mistakes

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The practice of tipping is commonly observed in the United States, but adhering to the same custom may cause issues in other countries. Tipping etiquette varies across different nations, and typically, a 10 to 15% service charge is already included in your final bill. You're not expected to provide an additional tip unless the service was exceptional, in which case you can add a few extra euros. Avoid tipping 20% as you would in the United States, as it'll cost you more. If a service fee isn't included and you're unsure whether to tip or not, a good rule of thumb is to give a 5-10% cash tip. When in doubt, it's best to ask a local for guidance on the standard tipping etiquette.

4. Crowded tourist hotspots

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When exploring lively cities with many popular tourist destinations, this advice can be particularly useful. While the majority of visitors gravitate towards the same museums, landmarks, and restaurants, consider seeking the input of a friendly local on what to do next. If you feel hesitant to approach a random person on the street, you can ask an employee at a nearby museum or store about their dining recommendations or favorite sights. These local insights will provide you with more authentic travel experiences. This approach also allows you to avoid overcrowded venues and potentially save money, as prices at most tourist attractions tend to be higher.

5. Store closures during lunchtime

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This advice is particularly relevant if you're visiting a small or lesser-known European city. Shops and restaurants might choose to close during the afternoon hours to allow their employees to enjoy a proper lunch and break. This is especially common in Spain, where the afternoon siesta is an integral part of the culture. Other nations, such as Italy, Greece, France, and Cyprus, have similar practices. In France, for instance, museums and shops will typically close for the lunchtime period, while cafés and eateries remain open until late afternoon before shutting down a few hours before dinner. However, in heavily touristed areas, the entire city is unlikely to completely shut down, and you'll probably be able to find something open. If you're unsure, it's best to check the opening hours of your intended destination online or give them a call beforehand.

6. The Paris pitfall

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Paris, the renowned capital of France, is undoubtedly a top choice for travelers worldwide. Although it's a highly coveted destination, it's crucial to have a clear plan in place to navigate the city and avoid the crowds.

Beyond the iconic Eiffel Tower, there are countless other activities and sights to experience in this wonderful city. Instead of waiting in long queues to climb the tower, consider visiting the terrace on the Arc de Triomphe for panoramic views of the city with a shorter wait time. Similarly, if the crowds at the Mona Lisa exhibit in the Louvre are too much, there are numerous other famous exhibits and art and history museums to explore throughout the city. This can help you save both time and money by avoiding the typical tourist traps.

7. Currency exchange confusion

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Exchanging cash when you arrive in Europe can be a better option than doing so in the United States, as it can help you avoid higher exchange rates. Airports across Europe will have ATMs where you can withdraw local currency upon landing. However, using your credit card at an ATM to obtain cash can be quite costly due to the conversion fees added to the withdrawal amount. Still, it's a good idea to keep a small amount of local currency on hand in case of an emergency.

In most cases, using your credit card directly for purchases will be the most cost-effective option. This method typically offers the lowest conversion rate. Before your trip, make sure to check with your credit card issuer about any international fees. If you plan to exchange cash before your trip or travel to multiple European countries, keep in mind that not all of them use the euro. For instance, Switzerland uses the Swiss franc.

8. Tourist pricing in Venice

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As Venice, Italy continues to be a popular tourist destination, many local restaurants and shops take advantage of this by overcharging visitors for food, services, and souvenirs. It's important to do your research before dining out to avoid being surprised by your bill. According to a report from CNN Travel, some tourists were unexpectedly charged $653 for a light lunch for 3 people, and another group was charged $1,366 for a dinner for 4. Unfortunately, this isn't an isolated issue exclusive to Venice. You'll find that many restaurants and hotels near major tourist attractions tend to inflate their prices. To avoid falling victim to this costly trick, it's best to ask locals for recommendations, use online review sites, or go the extra mile to find establishments away from the tourist traps.

9. Don't be disappointed by local customs

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In the United States, it's typical for people to greet strangers with a smile or engage in small talk. However, this behavior may be perceived as unusual in certain European countries, and the response you receive may not be what you anticipate. Proper etiquette varies across Europe, with some cultures being more outgoing and others being more reserved. One common complaint from tourists is that the French, particularly Parisians, are unfriendly. But in reality, they're simply more physically reserved than other cultures, and it's not their norm to greet everyone with a broad smile.

On the other hand, if you visit a small European city, you may stand out and receive a great deal of attention from the locals, who might ask you numerous questions. During your trip, you should be prepared for either scenario and try to adapt accordingly. A helpful tip is to learn a few phrases in the local language. The locals will appreciate the gesture, and it can be useful if you have any questions.

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In addition to our ultimate travel guide, we would also like to provide you with some more useful information on traveling, which will be handy for those who prefer doing this by air.

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What is actually off-site parking, and which advantages has this parking type, you may ask? So let's take a closer look at this question.

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Thirdly, it's much more convenient. People are always stressed before the trip, as there are many things you should keep in mind. Not to be late when taking off, fighting traffic, finding a parking place, wondering how long the shuttle service will take, and more can leave you annoyed before you step foot inside the airport. If you choose off-site parking, you are using the assistance of a private company that caters to travelers' needs. Such services can make your trip much more comfortable when you arrive at the airport and return home.

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