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Bizandtravelblog’s travel tips help make your trip to Europe easy and enjoyable while maximizing your time and money spent in Europe.
Europe is a great place to visit and with the travel tips listed below, it is sure to make your visit even more enjoyable!
I have taken several trips to Europe and have learned these travel tips along the way. I hope you find them useful. They certainly have made my traveling experiences much more enjoyable and easier.
The best place to get foreign currency is at an ATM machine when you arrive in Europe. The ATM machines do not charge a commission.
Commissions charged at the currency exchange booths are high in Europe. There is a small fee when you use an ATM, but the fee to use an ATM is far less than the fee you would pay using a currency exchange booth; the airport exchange booths charge some of the highest commissions.
Start looking for an ATM after you exit customs and the baggage claim area. You won’t typically find an ATM machine inside the baggage claim area.
It’s a good idea to use the ATMs at the airport because sometimes the city you’re headed to might not have a readily available ATM machine; you might just find yourself walking for miles to find one.
Also, it’s a great idea to bring a money belt, to keep your money and credit cards safe.
Currency Exchange Converter App
There’s a great currency exchange converter App, it’s called “XE Currency App.” Download it before you head over to Europe. Also, it’s best to set it up in the US before you leave home so you are ready to use it when you arrive in Europe. Plus, you’ll have WiFi in the US, and sometimes when you land in Europe, you won’t have an immediate connection.
Be sure to arrange with your doctor to have enough medications to take with you. The medications in Europe are slightly different and sometimes they might not carry what you need.
Always, always, always, take your medications with you on the plane, do not check them. Carry your pills and save space by leaving behind your pill bottles and organizing them with a Small Pill Case Organizer. Unfortunately, it’s sad to say, but precaution is the best thing here.
Take extra clothes with you on the plane
A good habit to get into is to take a few extra pieces of clothing with you on the plane; not checked. For your checked bags, use the packing cubes to keep your things organized, wrinkle-free and fit more things in your bag.
It’s happened more than once where people have lost their luggage, or it has arrived late. Make sure each of your bags has a luggage tag.
Having with you an extra pair of jeans, and some necessary items you cannot do without, will make an unfortunate scenario a little easier to handle.
Passport & Visas
In most countries now, your passport must not expire in 6 months, otherwise, they won’t let you in the country. Be sure to check your passport before leaving home to ensure it won’t expire in 6 months.
And, you’ll want to check and make sure that a Visa is not required for entry into the country you are planning to visit. Visas are typically not required in Europe, but always a good thing to check before leaving home.
Enroll in Global Entry to Expedite Your Return Back to the US from International Travel
One of the best ways to return from your International Travels is to be a Global Entry member. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows you to expedite clearance through automatic kiosks at various airports.
Here is how it works
If you are a Global Entry member, and you just returned from your International Travels, you proceed directly to a Global Entry kiosk. Do NOT wait in line where everyone else is to have their passports stamped. Walk past the lines and look for the kiosks. Yay!! No line waiting! This is the reward of being a Global Entry member!
So after you found a kiosk (there’s usually a few of them around), the first thing you do is put your passport down on the scanner at the kiosk. After it reads your passport, you place your fingers on the scanner to read your fingerprints for fingerprint verification. Afterwards, you answer a few questions; these are the same questions on the customs declaration form. Once you are done, a receipt will be printed out. Keep the receipt! You will need it to exit the airport.
Tip: You do not have to fill out the paper customs declaration form that is handed out on the airplane; the kiosk will ask you the same questions and the receipt that is printed at the kiosk will contain your answers. If you forget and fill out the paper form, it’s not a big deal; you still have to answer the questions at the kiosk.
Once you complete the form, the kiosk will give you a receipt. Keep this receipt as you will need it when you exit the airport. Afterwards, head to the baggage claim area to claim your bag. Once you have your bags, you will hand your receipt to the airport personnel, hopefully bypass a custom’s inspection, and proceed to exit the airport.
Application and Fee
You must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. To get approved, you need to fill out an application, and pay $100 (2018).
After that, the U.S. Custom Borders & Protection (CBP) will review your application, perform a background check and then call you for an in-person interview.
The interview typically asks you questions that were on your application. So, I highly recommend you keep a copy of your application and review your answers before you go for the in-person interview.
Once you are at the interview, you typically get your results immediately.
Global Entry Card
You will get a Global Entry card, but it’s pretty much worthless. As a Global Entry member, you only need your passport to gain expedited entrance back into the U.S. through an automatic kiosk.
Surge Protector Strip
Most European hotels now have 110 voltage outlets and most gadgets are now dual voltage, meaning they work both in the US (110 volts) and Europe (220 volts). Check with your hotel in advance and inquire as to their outlets. You may need to purchase a converter. Sometimes you just need an adapter that goes from 220v to 110v.
One of the best travel tips I can recommend is to take a surge protector strip with you. The strip will enable you to plug into one outlet and charge a variety of gadgets. It’s one of the nicest ways to get all of your things charged without having to hunt around the hotel room looking for an outlet, or better yet, not finding any additional ones.
Most older U.S. hair dryers will not work in Europe. But, today you can buy a blow dryer that works both in the US and Europe. If you don’t want to bring a blow dryer with you, inquire with your hotel to see if they provide one.
Be sure to call your credit card company before you leave to let them know (i) you are traveling overseas, (ii) when you are traveling and when you’ll be back, and (iii) where you are traveling to; let them know all the countries you will be visiting. Most credit card companies now give you the option to provide this information online.
It’s critical that they have this information so they don’t block your credit card because of possible fraud detected.
You will also want to confirm that there are no foreign transaction fees with the credit card you intend to bring with you to Europe.
And, most importantly, be sure to bring some RFID sleeves to protect your credit card information.
Another travel tip is to download all of your favorite movies, songs, games, etc. to your iPads, iPhone, before you leave. The flight to Europe can be long so it’s a good idea to be prepared and ready.
iPhone and Roaming
Before you leave home, you will want to contact your phone provider and get an international plan so it won’t cost you a fortune while traveling to and around Europe.
To ensure you won’t have an enormous bill, turn off the roaming feature.
Also, to preserve battery life as you travel, turn your phone to airplane mode and also low battery usage. You can still take photos and you won’t drain your battery.
Portable Battery for your iPhone
Another travel tip is to take a portable phone charger with you so you can charge your iPhone while out and about.
Some of the best chargers are sold by Brookstone.
I have a Brookstone portable charger and it has two USB ports. My iPhone was always charged and ready to be used.
If you’ve never heard of Viber, get it. This is a great App to keep you in touch with loved ones. You will want to download Viber before you leave home so you can connect with family and friends.
Viber allows you to make FREE phone calls and send FREE text messages, from anyplace to anyplace in the world.
It only works with WiFi, so you’ll have to be in a place that has WiFi. But, most European cafes and hotels have Wifi, if not in the hotel room, then check out the lobby.
The flights to Europe provide you with plenty of water and food. Leave your water bottle at home for this trip; it will just add to another thing you need to keep an eye on and not forget.
Bag Wraps at Airport on Way Home
European countries like to wrap their bags before checking them. You will see the machines at various places in the airport, around the check-in lines. It’s a good idea to get your bag wrapped if you have a lot of goodies you are taking home. It typically costs around $25 per bag. Having your bag wrapped will keep it more safe and give you piece of mind. If you don’t want to have your bag wrapped, consider buying a few luggage straps for your bags.
Currency Left Over
So, now that you have experienced Europe, you are ready to travel home, but you have all this foreign currency. One of the best travel tips I can give you with your leftover change is…… Spend it!!
Yep, go buy yourself some duty-free things, like duty-free alcohol, last minute souvenirs, munchies for the flight home, or give it to the grand kids as a gift, or whatever else you can find to buy, spend it all. Why? Because unfortunately, you cannot exchange change.
Last Minute Things to Do at Home
Also, here are a few reminders before you leave home:
- Turn down the hot water heater
- Turn down the AC/Heat
- Arrange for someone to pick up the mail/stop mail
- Pay all upcoming bills
- Arrange for pets
I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”