From the stunning Alpine scenery of Austria, to the lakes of Italy or cruising down the River Rhine in Germany, Europe has a wonder of delights. Whether you are planning a short trip to enjoy the craic in Dublin or are looking to self-drive your way to the French Riviera, there are some things you need to bear in mind before you travel. Get yourself up to speed with our top tips for travelling around Europe.
What to pack: Be prepared for the weather. While you might have checked the forecast and planned shorts and T-shirts for balmy weather, we Brits know only too well the weather can change at any time. You don’t want to be packing lots of heavy jumpers and coats that add to your luggage weight so go for things that you can layer. A mixture of T-shirts, long sleeved tops and lightweight jackets that you can pop into a day backpack are good options.
Driving: Get to grips with the rules of the road in the countries you plan to visit. If you are taking your car abroad or hiring a vehicle when you are over there, make sure you carry your driving licence on you. You can be asked to produce your driving licence at any time and having it on you will reduce the risk of a police fine or having your car taken away from you. If you are planning to travel around the UK as part of your trip and feel a bit rusty on the Highway Code then Toptests has some excellent free DVSA mock theory tests you can use to test your knowledge. Don’t be complacent – everyone from learners through to experienced veterans needs to brush up from time to time.
Avoid high mobile bills: You probably want to keep in touch with friends and family back at home but don’t want to be racking up huge mobile phone bills while you are abroad. The best way to avoid high charges, particularly if you are away for a while, is to try to swap your SIM card for a local SIM. If you can’t do this then make sure you switch off data roaming and try to use local Wi-Fi. If you need maps during your stay, download them before you go, or use Wi-Fi. For more tips go to moneysavingexpert.com.
Insurance: Never travel without insurance – even if you don’t think you will need it. The Association of British Insurers says that the average cost for overseas medical treatment is £2,040. The EHIC card (formerly E111) will entitle you to state-provided medical care in all European Economic Areas and Switzerland but it may not be the same level of care that you’d get in the UK. You may also have to pay part of the bills and it won’t cover the cost of getting you back to the UK after a medical emergency. Check for a travel insurance policy that will also cover loss of baggage, personal liability and the costs of cancelling, delaying or cutting short your trip.
Safety: Before you travel check gov.uk for advice on the destination you are looking to visit. This site holds up to date information on any possible threats or risks in various countries abroad. Take precautions as you would at home. Avoid travelling alone where possible and let people know where you are going. Keep money and credit cards securely on your person and take care when using ATMs that you hide your pin number. Keep passports and important documents locked in the hotel safe when you don’t need them on your person. A good tip is to also take photocopies of your passport and documents and keep them separate from the originals.
As with all travel, it’s better to be prepared for what could happen and enjoy a smooth trip knowing that all eventualities are covered. Happy travelling!