What are the Most Common Travel Mistakes to Avoid on your Trip to Europe?

Planning a trip to Europe and how to avoid tourist travel mistakes

I’ll cut to the chase: overpacking, trying to see too much too quickly, over-reliance on your guidebook, deciding to travel along with too many people, not taking enough photos, and/or not maintaining your journal daily. When booking your trip Europe Revealed is your best friend.

What are the Top 5 Worst Things about Europe?

  1. Dog-do on sidewalks…or at least you hope it’s dog-do. For example in Paris, despite the estimated 10 million Euros spent annually to keep their streets clean, more than 600 people a year are unfortunately admitted to hospitals after slipping on Fifi’s “dooh dooh”. Oops!
  2. Smoking and smokers absolutely everywhere you go any and all the time! Unless you are one of them, then you’re in heaven and can smoke your brains out.
  3. On Sundays absolutely everything seems to be closed. Be prepared and buy everything you might need the night before on Saturday!
  4. Funky toilets, often without toilet seats. It pays to be open-minded and in some cases quite physically flexible! Either start practicing yoga or bring along some good undergarments.
  5. Once inside the EU you won’t get any more cool stamps for your passport while crossing intra-EU borders. Often people won’t even get an entrance stamp these days depending on how and where you entered the EU zone. I can’t tell you how many passports I’ve seen with after months of traveling around, only having a Heathrow Airport entrance stamp and nothing else. However, travelers should note that in Monaco they will stamp your passport at the Tourist Office inside the train station and in Gibralter they will stamp your passport only upon leaving the customs area (but usually after having to politely ask a few times).

Five very important differences worth noting about Europe:

  1. In Europe the 1st floor is considered the ground floor.
  2. When reference is made to the Right Bank, it denotes either the North or East side of the riverbank and consequently the term Left Bank is used to indicate the South or West side of the riverbank.
  3. Aspirin, paracetamol, and panadol as it is also known, can ONLY be purchased at the pharmacy (chemist) in most countries
  4. Most Europeans go on vacation in August, especially the Mediterranean countries. As a result, many shops and services will be closed sporadically during this period.
  5. Hot water in many hotels and hostels is often metered and may only be available in mornings or evening consumption. It pays to ask before so you don’t get a cold shower!

Bonus: Travelers’ cheques are often more hassle than they are worth now that ATM cash machines are so widely available and well linked to almost all international banking networks. Don't bother with them anymore.

Embarking on a trip to Europe is often a dream come true for many travelers. The allure of picturesque landscapes, rich history, diverse cultures, and iconic landmarks beckons millions of tourists each year. However, amidst the excitement of planning a European adventure, it's crucial to be aware of the common pitfalls that can turn your trip into a stressful or disappointing experience. In this comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the most prevalent travel mistakes that tourists make when visiting Europe, and provide valuable insights on how to avoid them.

Planning Your Europe Trip:

One of the most common mistakes tourists make when planning a trip to Europe is underestimating the sheer size and diversity of the continent. With 44 countries spanning from Portugal in the west to Russia in the east, Europe offers a myriad of experiences catering to every taste and preference. Therefore, creating a well-thought-out itinerary tailored to your interests is essential.

When mapping out your journey, resist the temptation to cram too many destinations into a limited timeframe. Overpacking your itinerary can lead to exhaustion, rushed sightseeing, and missed opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture. Instead, prioritize quality over quantity by selecting a few key destinations and allowing ample time to explore each one thoroughly.

Remember that Europe is most likely different culturally than where you're from so watch out for the common Europe travel mistakes when traveling to Europe.

Another common mistake is overlooking the importance of travel insurance. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, adequate travel insurance can provide invaluable protection against unforeseen circumstances such as medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost luggage. Invest in a comprehensive policy that offers coverage for the duration of your trip to ensure a hassle-free travel experience.

Navigating Tourist Traps and Hidden Gems:

When being a traveler in Europe, it's essential to strike a balance between visiting popular tourist attractions and discovering lesser-known hidden gems. While iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Colosseum in Rome are must-see destinations, don't overlook the charm and authenticity of off-the-beaten-path locales.

Tourist traps abound in major cities, luring unsuspecting travelers with overpriced souvenirs, subpar dining options, and crowded attractions. Avoid falling into these traps by doing your research beforehand, seeking recommendations from locals, and venturing away from the main tourist thoroughfares.

Instead, aim to immerse yourself in the local culture by exploring authentic neighborhoods, dining at family-owned restaurants, and engaging with residents. You'll not only save money but also gain a deeper appreciation for the destination and forge meaningful connections with the local community.

Navigating Transportation and Logistics:

Navigating transportation options can be daunting for first-time travelers to Europe, especially given the continent's extensive network of trains, buses, and budget airlines. One common mistake is failing to book transportation tickets in advance, particularly during peak travel seasons when availability may be limited, and prices inflated.

To avoid last-minute hassles, pre-book transportation tickets whenever possible and allow sufficient time for connections between flights, trains, or buses. Be mindful of hidden costs such as baggage fees, seat reservations, and transaction fees for using credit cards abroad. Consider obtaining a second credit card with no foreign transaction fees to mitigate these additional expenses.

When traveling between European countries, taking the train is often the most convenient and scenic option. However, novice travelers may encounter challenges such as language barriers, unfamiliar ticketing systems, and navigating complex railway networks. Familiarize yourself with the local train schedules, ticketing procedures, and onboard amenities to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.

Exploring Cultural Nuances and Etiquette:

One of the most rewarding aspects of traveling in Europe is immersing yourself in different cultures and customs. However, it's essential to approach cultural interactions with respect, sensitivity, and an open mind. Avoid inadvertently offending locals by familiarizing yourself with basic etiquette guidelines and cultural norms before your trip.

For example, in many European countries, it's customary to greet people with a handshake or kiss on the cheek, depending on the region. Refrain from loud or boisterous behavior in public spaces, and dress modestly when visiting religious sites or conservative communities.

Language barriers can also pose challenges for travelers, especially in countries where English is not widely spoken. While it's unrealistic to become fluent in every language, learning a few simple words and phrases in the local language can go a long way in facilitating communication and demonstrating respect for the host culture.

Supporting Sustainable Tourism:

As responsible travelers, it's essential to minimize our environmental impact and support sustainable tourism practices wherever possible. Avoid contributing to overtourism in popular destinations by visiting during off-peak seasons or exploring alternative regions that are less frequented by tourists.

Respect the natural environment by adhering to Leave No Trace principles, disposing of waste properly, and minimizing water and energy consumption. Support local businesses, artisans, and eco-friendly accommodations that prioritize sustainability and community engagement.

Planning a trip to Europe is an exhilarating adventure filled with endless possibilities for discovery and exploration. By being mindful of the common pitfalls and mistakes to avoid, you can ensure a memorable and enriching travel experience that leaves a positive impact on both you and the destinations you visit. Whether you're exploring the iconic landmarks of Western Europe, venturing off the beaten path in Eastern Europe, or discovering hidden gems within Europe's diverse tapestry of cultures and landscapes, embrace the journey with an open heart and a spirit of curiosity. Europe awaits – let the adventure begin!