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What Is the Best Way to Prepare for a Trip to Europe?

Each European country has its own number a person should call in case of emergency.
Some travel insurance protects against loss of or damage to baggage during transit.
Make sure you buy a European plug adapter for battery chargers or other electronics.
Europe-bound travelers who are bringing laptops or other electronic devices should be sure to pack an adapter plug.
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  • Written By: Rhonda Rivera
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2014
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To prepare for a trip to Europe, one might learn emergency numbers, get travel insurance, and purchase an adapter plug for electronic devices. All European countries have a different number to call in case of an emergency, and it might prove beneficial to memorize or write this number down. Travel insurance is also something that might be necessary for injuries, theft, or a national emergency. While ensuring that foreign electronic devices can be plugged in and saying “please” and “thank you” in a foreign language are likely not as important, they can help ensure a European vacation is a pleasant one.

Most European countries are generally considered safe for travelers, but an accident can happen anywhere to anyone. Preparing for a trip to Europe should include memorizing emergency numbers, or writing them down and keeping them in a wallet or handbag. In most places in Europe, 112 can be dialed to reach an operator that speaks both English and whatever language is spoken in the country the caller is calling from. Additionally, individual countries have different numbers for ambulance, police, and fire services. These numbers are readily available on the Internet, but 112 should probably memorized if all else fails.

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Travel insurance is a good thing to have in case of medical emergencies, evacuation of the vacation area, or baggage loss. Like most other types of insurance, travel insurance coverage can vary significantly based on the package. Even a very good plan usually just costs a small percentage of the overall trip to Europe, however.

If a traveler is bringing his or her mobile phone, laptop computer, or other electronic device on a trip to Europe, an adapter plug is usually necessary. The wall sockets in Europe might be different than the wall sockets in the traveler’s home country. In this case, an adapter plug is the only way to plug foreign electronic devices in. Adapter plugs can sometimes be borrowed from a European hotel, or purchased in a hardware or electrical store.

Learning basic phrases in a foreign language for a trip to Europe is generally not necessary. Often, pointing, smiling, and nodding to communicate to get directions or find a bathroom works well enough. For an easier time with communication, however, a traveler can learn phrases like “where is”, “hello”, and basic directions. A language or phrase dictionary is another good addition. Many people in Europe speak English as a second language, so a trip to Europe might even result in a few English conversations.

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Discuss this Article

Mykol
Post 6

I am the type of person who just likes to pack and show up for the trip. I tell a travel agent what I am looking for, and let them do all the leg work.

I have worked with the same travel agent for many years, and she has not failed me yet. When I asked her to plan a trip to Europe, I told her what my budget was, a few of the highlights we wanted to see and left the rest to her.

I guess it comes down to personal preference. When my sister and her husband went to Europe she booked one of the cheap trips to Europe on a travel site.

She books a lot of her vacations this way, and usually has good results as long as she does her research and reads the reviews.

honeybees
Post 5

I spent many hours on the internet planning a trip to Europe before we went to Ireland and Scotland.

Since I knew we would be renting a car while we were over there, one of the first things I did was check with our insurance company. I wanted to make sure we were covered if there happened to be any kind of accident.

No one in our family had driven in Europe before. You take a combination of unfamiliar territory, and driving on the opposite side of the road than what you are used to, and I can see how something could easily happen.

Europe is full of wonderful bed and breakfasts to stay in. We find these so much more inviting than a hotel. You are in a home atmosphere, and also get a chance to visit with the local people, so you get a real good idea of their culture and how they live.

We still have fond memories of one of the bed and breakfast places we stayed at. I called all of them ahead of time and spoke with the owners. This made me feel more confident about my decision of where to stay.

If you speak English, there is not a language barrier, so this is also a big plus.

hyrax53
Post 4

I would say that basic language is indeed a good idea, or more. In Central and Eastern Europe especially, not everyone speaks English. And, understandably, many countries do not appreciate Americans or other English language speakers who don't speak the language even a little. This is especially true if you want to be in one place for a couple of weeks or more.

There are lots of language tips and tricks online, though. BBC and other news sites and public service groups offer online language help, and there are blogs for many different languages too.

FernValley
Post 3

@stolaf23- Those are some sound tips, and I'm not sure I've seen those in a lot of guide books or blogs.

One I would add though is of course to talk to locals when you get there. Not everything in a guide book will be the way it sounds when you get there, and a local person can help tell you what might have changed, or even give a better recommendation instead.

stolaf23
Post 2

I have been living in Europe teaching for a little over a year, and here are some tips I can offer.

First, for wall plugs, if your main electronic or your computer then you can get away with just a simple socket adapter. Most laptop computers, in fact all that I have seen, have a charge adapter already in the power cord, so buying one of those complicated wall adapters will be a waste of money.

Second, if your planned trip is a few months or more, a good thing to do before you leave would be to get a set of cheap passport photos. If you're staying somewhere long enough to get a bus pass, or are the right age to get in international student card, a Euro 26 card (discounts for people 26 and under), or a pensioner travel card, you will need at least one or two passport photos to go on these. And of course, if you are getting some sort of visa, you'll need it for those too.

Third, if you have a medicine, vitamin, or cosmetic that you consider to be a must-have, get enough before you leave to last the whole trip. Not all American and British brands are available everywhere in Europe, and the available brands are not always the same quality.

backdraft
Post 1

For me the best preparation for my trip to Europe was to get a bunch of guidebooks and read them closely. I got guide books from lonely planet and fromers as well as looked a bunch of stuff up online. This was a big help once I got over there because I felt like a had a sense for the places I was going before I even got there.

This is helpful because you will probably be charmed and overwhelmed once you get there. There is so much to see and do and experience that it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. If you have some idea of how the city is laid out, public transportation works, where to stay and how to get to all the landmarks it makes the experience a lot less confusing. You can just get there and enjoy it.

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