While Europe is not on another planet, it is no surprise that the countries in this hemisphere are much different from what you may be accustomed to in the US. One of the main reasons you may be planning a vacation abroad is to experience a contrasting culture and lifestyle while maintaining comfort and adapting to different circumstances. My first vacation to Europe taught me this lesson the hard way. Between my own experiences in Ireland, England, and France and my friend’s experiences in other European countries, I feel that I have a better understanding of how to properly plan and pack for a trip out of the United States. When traveling from the United States to Europe, there are some differences that you should account for and know to plan a successful vacation.
Plan out your time
When investing money and free time into a luxurious European vacation, you’ll surely want to experience and see as many things as possible. In the past few years, my family recently visited the beautiful country of Ireland. With my mom being fully Irish and never have visited, it was important that we planned our trip wisely and made the most out of all of our time there. Ireland is a very unique country, with breathtaking scenery, delicious local restaurants, historical castles, and not to mention being the home of the world-famous Guinness beer. While planning our time beforehand, we ensured that we would have plenty of time to visit different landmarks and outdoor scenery. You may not spend a ton of time taking in views, but it is crucial to allow yourselves time for photo ops and finding the location. We were also planning to do a scenic hike, but unfortunately did not plan our time perfectly and did not end up experiencing this. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to plan your time out abroad.
Research European countries beforehand
In addition to planning out your time, it’s crucial to ensure that you are spending your time wisely. I recommend researching the countries you are visiting before arriving there. Doing research will inform you which landmarks are must-sees and which may not be as enjoyable for you. One of the reasons so many people choose to travel to Europe is the accessibility to so many countries nearby. Tourists can easily buy a train ticket or a quick flight to hop around Europe and see all of the wonders in this continent. Researching your destinations beforehand will also help you find any local spots or places you may not have heard of through word of mouth.
Choose restaurants carefully- especially in Paris
When visiting a new place, it can be hard to determine which restaurants will be worth your while, and which may not be. I found this especially true while visiting France. There are countless restaurants in Paris especially, making it difficult to find the best one just from walking down the street. The food across this continent is differing in each place. Lucky for adventurers, you will not eat the same thing twice when jumping from Ireland to London, Spain or Greece. Some of our best eating experiences can be attributed to the wonderful Yelp- a consumer-created guide to eating. Using Yelp will allow you to see the majority of people’s opinions about restaurants, as well as the menu and photos of the food served. I also find this app to be helpful when it comes to customer service. Through reading reviews, you may find that some restaurants will have better customer service than others. Yelp will also prevent you from an unfortunate dining experience you may not see coming.
Pack light- especially if you’ll be in Ireland
This is not the easiest tip to follow for me personally, but I have learned how important it is while traveling to another country. It may not seem to make sense, bringing fewer belongings to a place you’ve never been- but you will understand when you arrive. Packing too many clothes will not only be a hassle to keep up with and repack but also weigh down your suitcase. When it comes to vacationing in Europe you will likely want to go shopping. No matter which European countries you see, they all have unique souvenirs, local crafts, and artwork which you will want to bring home with you in your suitcase. Whether you’re interested in buying something for yourself, or a friend back home, you will surely want to collect some local items to remember your special time abroad. If you are visiting Ireland, I can guarantee you will want a souvenir or two from the Guinness factory, and probably some beautiful local jewelry. Ireland is one European country that is especially known for its silver jewelry and Irish crafts. Always try to pack lightly to prevent unnecessary stress for yourself, and of course to allow plenty of room for shopping for yourself and friends back home.
Don’t underestimate flights to Europe
When planning a vacation abroad, I know it can be easy to become so caught up and excited about the destination, that you forget about the travel to reach there. Especially if you’ve never flown before, it is important to always pack your carry-on bag wisely, and plan for your flight. Depending on where you are flying from, flights to Europe are generally pretty long and can be exhausting. I recommend taking a sleeping supplement before your flight or avoiding coffee, to ensure you can rest throughout your flight. Resting on the plane will not only pass time more easily but also allow you to be well-rested and ready to take on the day when you arrive. Downloading movies and packing a good book to read are also great ideas to ensure a successful flight. In addition, I recommend bringing a light jacket and snacks- as airplanes tend to be chilly, with expensive food options. Also, don’t forget about meeting the TSA requirements for your carry-on bag!