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Things you wish you knew/did before you traveled to Europe

Things you wish you knew/did before you traveled to Europe

Old Mar 30th, 2011, 03:10 AM
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I'm just glad I already KNOW how people over there "dress" so i didn;t have to rely on a bunch of nameless strangers for advice.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 04:25 AM
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Take an extra collapsible bag to bring stuff home.

Stuff = chocolate/souvenirs/etc
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 04:35 AM
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1. Remember that standards of politeness differ from country to oountry.
2. People in Europe are much less likely to smile at strangers than Americans, but anyone in France providing you a service, from a shopkeeper to a bus driver to hotel staff expects to be greeted with "Bonjour, Madame or Monsieur" _every_ time you encounter them, and they expect to be thanked and told goodbye as well. It is very similar in Italy.
3. On the other hand, you can expect to be pushed or jostled in crowds, even by ordinary people who are NOT pickpockets, in ways that would be totally unacceptable in the US. This is what makes pickpocketing so easy.
4. Remember that most of the people around you in the streets are not on vacation. They are in a hurry to get to work or eat their lunch or get through the supermarket so they can cook dinner. Don't work out your map route in the middle of the sidewalk, do plan what you want for lunch from the menu posted on the street, deciding on a backup if they are sold out of your first choice, and go to post offices, supermarkets, bakeries, banks, etc at off-hours.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 04:46 AM
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What I found (after reading too much) was that I overprepared. I packed for every contingency and never used most of the stuff. Pack the emergency kit as I call it- If I were sick in a hotel room and didn't want to leave or know where to go, what would I take? They have pharmacies in Europe and it's kind of fun to go to pick up new deodorant/toothpaste if you run out.

My tips:

Keep it simple.

Take time to enjoy your trip.

If you don't dress up at home, you won't dress up on vacation.

Bring your favorite camera and most comfortable pair of shoes.

Two ATM cards.

Eat focaccia and pesto in Cinque Terre.

You DON'T have to go crazy shopping. Buy something special to remember the trip and maybe a trinket to put on your desk.

You'll go back.

Have fun!
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 05:05 AM
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1. Pack light. You can buy anything you might need in Europe.

2. If you live in a house, remember to turn off your water at the main. You would not believe how many people come home to a broken pipe. It doesn't have to be frozen sometimes they just break. If you live in an apartment you can probably turn it off where it comes into the apt.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 05:26 AM
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1.Bring a smile, manners, and patience!! (Sometimes, reading the forum here is good practice for this! Learning to deal with all sorts with kindness and not retaliation is a good life skill to take with you everywhere!)
2.You probably already noted this but--be sure to have plug adaptors--and plenty of them--for all the chargers you will be taking.
3.Broken in shoes, but moleskin anyway, washcloths if you want to use them (ratty ones to leave as you go if you want), and a few ziplocs.
4.Definitely at least 2 atm cards, from 2 different accounts. Maybe one from a credit union if you have time to open such if you don't already have such; their transaction fees tend to be less.
5.And if you plan to take lots of digital pics, how will you store the pics? Lots of cards? Way to download pics? Don't run out of storage space.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 06:39 AM
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 07:35 AM
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The less you take, the better. But I'll add one item: the microfiber travel towel. After washing clothes in the sink, roll them in this towel to remove excess moisture. Then your clothes and the towel will dry quickly overnight and you will still have a dry hotel towel for your shower. (available at Rick Steves and REI).
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 08:12 AM
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@ granthammommy

Couldn't have said it better myself! Will think of you while eating in CT!!
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 08:23 AM
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Did you call your bank and let them know you're traveling? You don't want to have your cards denied.

Have fun! All great locations. Have a drink at sunset at Buza Bar, on the outside of the wall of Dubrovnik.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 08:25 AM
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WOW - a lot of stuff... living in Europe, we just get on the plane! But if it's your first time to Europe a major adjustment might be ... the bathrooms. Yes, standards and cleanliness can vary dramatically. You might look at this article about Toilets in Rome for some insights (and pictures)... So I'd recommend bringing some wipes, small pkg of tissue, and perhaps, courage!


Having lived in Europe now for more than 10+ years, we've seen a variety of toilet "options," including a hole in the floor of a train in Slovakia! Happy travels - Be safe and have fun!
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 08:35 AM
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Assuming Europe2011 is American, then I would take a flashlight rather than a torch!

Whenever I read of torches in mysteries written by English writers, I have visions of going thru Injun Joe's cave!

Earplugs are sometimes a good idea
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 09:23 AM
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If you like to read at night and must wear reading glasses buy the new non prescrition eyeglasses that have a light built in.

I am going to buy a pair for my trip in September.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 09:25 AM
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I wish I had researched tipping practices in Europe, before we went. In our ignorance, we tipped like we do in the states-- adding a percentage to the charge card slip. I guess that was wrong, because the server may not have received the tip, plus it was too much. Stupid on our part.

In some countries, you simply round up the bill and leave the cash on the table. Simple. Duh.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 09:25 AM
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Someone mentioned plug adaptors - I bring a multi-plug thing from home and then you only need one plug adaptor to plug in 4-5 things. Much easier, saves money buying the plug adaptors, and you may find you only have one plug in an older hotel room anyway. Although I'm not sure if this works as well for Americans with the voltage issue (?)

I agree as well with whoever said it sounds like some of you are going on safari I must confess I'm terrible at packing light, but I stock up on shoes and clothes, not first aid kits! Each to their own though

And a big yes for trying to understand a little bit about the cultural norms (and a few words of the language) if you can as well.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 09:27 AM
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Here is the website..

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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 09:39 AM
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Hi europe2011. Thanks for starting this thread. It's actually a really good refresher course for experienced travelers as well as newbies. Lots of good ideas here. It's fun to see what are the must haves for everyone.

joannyc , thank you

I just bought the wipes at my local grocery store. They are antibacterial. They came in a bright orange rectangular pouch, probably 20 or so in a pack. I put that pack inside a quart size baggie to keep them from drying out . They fit in my small purse perfectly for the plane ride. I just opened the pack two days ago to see if I needed more for our next trip and they were still damp. I used them on our last trip in Nov. 2009, so they held up good I think.

I try to be very courteous to those around me on the plane, but ultimately I don't want to get sick, so I take precautions. I actually look upon it no differently than those who take vitamins or eat healthy or exercise or whatever they feel they have to do to stay healthy. This is something I have to do, so I do it. If you looked at some of the wipes when I was finished wiping down you would know what I mean! Icky.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 10:22 AM
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Michelle_d: I would 100% agree with all youve said.

others (who dont believe in bacterial infections): One can not become immune to MRSA (methicillin resistant Staph aureus). Once only common in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. there is now an epidemic of getting these staph infections in crowded areas such as prisons, gyms, and I would even say airplanes. It is actually very important to wipe down your tray on a plane and wash your hands with soap or use antibacterial often. Other airborne infections can be avoided with a mask, why not? But I dont think it will be too practical to fly that long with a mask on.
And as far as immunity to bacterial infections... ONCE YOU GET INFECTED WITH MRSA, YOU WILL BE A CARRIER, AND WON'T REALLY BE IMMUNE TO GETTING SICK... On the contrary, you put yourself at risk for much worse infections with it.
It is much better to be pro-active and avoid MRSA, Strep, E.coli, salmonella and others, then to get sick with it and ruin your entire vacation! Pleas wipe down you tray, and seats prior to touching them, and wash your hands often.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 10:25 AM
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Just chiming in as someone who doesn't really do the anti-bacterial thing - if a seatmate on a plane wiped down everything in sight with anti-bacterial wipes, it would not bother me in the least. I just can't see how that would be annoying.
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Old Mar 30th, 2011, 10:30 AM
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I see that you are traveling through Italy and Slovenia (and potentially Austria.) A word of caution, please note that if you drive into Slovenia from another country, stop to purchase a pass for your auto which allows travel on the major highways. I was stopped as I left Slovenia at the border.

This is available at convenience stores, fillings stations, etc. From experience, the fine is significant ($150E to 300E) for not having that sticker on my rental car. (I drove into Slovenia from Italy for the day.) Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse.

Austria also requires a sticker but not sure about Croatia. Rental cars rented in the specific country should have the sticker affixed (as purchased by the rental company) but not certain.
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