A European vacation is always a good idea with the family, as a solo trip, or as a couple. The secret to Europe is to have a good idea of what you want to see and do because there is simply so much to offer.

Every country (even every city!) is very different, and depending what you are looking for, you will either fall in love with it or be ready to move on to the next place.

That is where our team of European travel specialists come in handy when planning your ideal itinerary. In addition to their knowledge of the region, they are also very versed in ‘how’ to travel Europe. Their time abroad has taught them a thing or two and today we are sharing their knowledge with you, for your next trip.

Maximize your time, money and experience with these 20 travel tips & tricks

  1. Men can purchase a wider wallet (usually inexpensive) to carry some foreign currencies where the bills are larger than our wallets back here in Canada.
  1. Bring an extra wallet to put in your back pocket (empty) and carry your actual wallet in your front pocket. If you get your back pocket picked (visible target) you won’t care, I even put in those fake credit cards that you get from time to time with “your name here”.
  1. If you are looking for simple directions look for somebody in their late teens and early twenties as they tend to more likely speak English as a second language.
  1. Download the Babbel app prior to travel so you can practice the languages of the countries you are travelling to prior to arrival. www.babbel.com
  1. Cross pack as a family. In the event a bag gets lost, you will have a bag with clothes for everyone in another bag.
  1. Book the front of the line tours in places ie: Florence, Rome (Vatican, Colosseum) as its worth every single cent extra to not stand in a 3 hour line in the hot sun and the tour guides are scholars. Excellent value and book in advance.
  1. For first time travellers to Europe, I usually suggest a cruise because it’s a ‘soft’ entry into a different culture and you get such a good sample of different countries when you wake up each morning in a new place. Then once the cruise is over, you can go back next time to the favourite or one country you want to see.
  1. Have prepaid transfers arranged prior to arrival. I have done both where I thought I can just make my way through the crazy, busy airport in Rome or other cities and ended up paying way too much because it was so overwhelming. It is really nice to get off a long flight and see someone holding a sign with your name guiding you out of the airport. Often you end up saving rather than paying more.
  1. I remember back in the 80’s it was always advisable to wear a Canadian Maple Leaf patch on your backpack. That was showing pride in our wonderful country. Now with the uncertain climate in parts of Europe, now more than ever, wearing that Canadian Maple Leaf is highly advisable when travelling in parts of Europe.
  1. Work with a travel consultant to come up with an itinerary that meets everyone’s expectations. Europe is full of history, art, food and scenery. A balance is usually best for most couples and families.
  1. Sign up for hotel rewards programs before you go if staying at chain hotels like Hilton or Accor, as it usually guarantees free WIFI. Also, remember to put your cell phone on Airplane Mode while abroad unless you have negotiated a good roaming plan. It will eliminate a big bill when you get home.
  1. Pre-book your car rental in Canadian funds prior to departure (with your agent). Many companies will allow drops for free within the same country.
  1. In Rome, take the night tour (pre-book) of the Vatican where there are fewer tourists.
  1. In Paris, pre-book your time to visit the Eifel Tower.
  1. Travel by train.
  1. Travel light/one suitcase/be organized.
  1. Bring layers, an umbrella and a scarf.
  1. Invest in comfy shoes.
  1. Travel in off season.
  1. Be open-minded and welcome any new experiences.

Thank you to our European travel experts Angela Kibsey, Alison Hastings, Cathe Smith, Michelle MacKenzie, Angela Brinkworth, Gloria Nedeljak, Warren Robinson, Melanie Hersom for these tips and tricks.

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