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Monday, April 19, 2010

How to Prepare for Your EuroTrip

Berlin Bode-MuseumImage by Wolfgang Staudt via Flickr

Europe is a continent with 39 nations and countless different cultures that aren't defined by mere political zones. Within countries you can experience a wide variety of different foods, languages and peoples. Whether you're planning on heading to icy Scandinavia or the sunny Mediterranean, you should be prepared to see and do things that you have never done before. Here are some basics to help you prepare for the trip of a lifetime.

1. Visas and Travel Guidelines: Before you buy your Europe airline tickets, it's important to look at a country's entry requirements. Many nations require visas. While the process can be tedious and bureaucratic, it is necessary and well worth it. Make sure that your passport is current, and will not expire during your trip. Make photocopies of your passport and visa, just in case something happens to the original. To ensure that these matters are taken care of before you leave will save you time and money in the event that something goes wrong.

2. Language: Although many Europeans speak English, chances are that most of the people you run into - unless you're going to England, Ireland, or Scotland - do not. It is important to be prepared to communicate without being understood in your native tongue. As a result, it can be helpful to bring a handbook of common words and phrases of the foreign language. If there is something that you want to communicate, but do not have the vocabulary, remember that most language is non-verbal. Gesticulations and pointing can often greatly help to convey an idea where words cannot.

3. Packing: These days you have to pay extra to pack luggage on the plane. Save your money for food and fun when you arrive, and pack light. A pair of comfortable jeans, maybe some nice shirts if you go out for a luxurious dinner, and some comfortable sneakers are really all you need. It's better to pack a few essentials than be burdened with heavy luggage. You also have to be responsible for more if you pack a lot. And going with less gives you more space to store what you bring home (Europe has great deals on certain items that are impossible to find in the U.S.).

4. Sights: Sure you want to see all of the most famous sights that a country can offer, but there are also many hidden gems that are still worth seeing. Do your research in travel books, online newspaper travel sections, or talk to your local Brooklyn travel agency about the specific country or countries you are visiting to get some more information.

5. Make sure that you have a good camera because you will want to be able to remember in detail where you were, and what you did. Keeping a daily journal of your activities can also be helpful.

6. Spontaneity: Travel is all about seeing and doing new things. Don't be afraid to do something you wouldn't normally do. This trip may provide you with once in a lifetime opportunities! But don't go too crazy - remember, always trust your gut if you're unsure of what to do.

That's it! Have fun and bon voyage!


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