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Europe Travel Tips for the Novice Traveller

Updated on March 13, 2015

Travelling Tips for Overseas

I am a novice traveller. Yes, I have to come clean. I am a good age and I had never left the continent. That continent is North America. I have traveled throughout Canada and the U.S. but never overseas so finally my family and I booked a whirlwind trip to Italy and Greece.

We had six flights in two weeks - Toronto to Rome, Sicily, Santorini, Athens and back to Toronto. It was the trip of a lifetime and we enjoyed every minute of it. I did learn a few things about overseas trips though and here are my tips for travel for a newbie traveler. These tips may seem obvious to you seasoned travelers out there and you may have many more that you could share so I welcome you to add your tips in the comments.

So these are the tips that stood out for me and will make my next overseas trip more enjoyable. Yes, I caught the travel bug and I will be visiting Europe again. Saving my pennies right now! So here are my recommendations for travel neophytes. Shall we?

Have you visited Europe

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Here are my Top Ten Tips for Travel

  1. Buy comprehensive insurance. Yes I know it can be expensive but lets face it you paid a lot for the vacation and if your luggage is lost or you miss a transfer - its going to cost you a lot more! I don't know about you but the peace of mind alone is worth it. My luggage was lost for 2 days and I didn't know for awhile if I would even get it back. I had nothing but the clothes on my back that I had just worn on an 8 hour flight. Ewww. So out shopping I went for fresh fashion because I had coverage for such an event. Yay!
  2. Pack light! Wow, why did I bring all these shoes?? Three pairs would have been fine. One for walking, a pair for the beach, and a good pair for going out on the town. Yup. You really don't need as much as you think; except underwear - lots of underwear - because you are not going to do laundry and underwear takes up no room at all. Check!
  3. Bring carry on luggage. The next time I travel I am going to attempt to put everything in a carry on suitcase. Yes, I think it can be done. If you just can't reduce your load this much at least put some emergency clothes and toiletries in your carry on because .... you never know where your checked suitcase is really going because it may not be with you!
  4. Don't book those overnight flights. Yes, it sounds great you leave and sleep on the plane and are refreshed and ready to go when you arrive in your destination. Yeah, sure. I can't sleep on planes; at least not very well. My trip to Europe going in was overnight and I felt, well, crappy. The trip home was a morning flight and it was much easier to tolerate. I didn't feel the urge to jump up and run up and down the aisles screaming - not even once.
  5. Don't forget your ear phones. Yes, you will need them for the movies and the music. They are not free anymore as they were in the good old days. You have to buy them but they are a cheap and wise purchase. Awww...sanity and they do a good job of drowning out the sound of that crying baby. Poor parents.
  6. Watch what you eat and drink before a flight. Ahem. Yes, you know your body and do you really want to have to use that bowl in the sky know - number two. I know what foods trigger this reaction in me so yes, I avoid coffee in the sky at all costs. Who wants to be running to that bathroom more than you need too. You must hydrate but finish all water intake 2 hours before your flight and you should be good. Drink sparingly during your flight and no booze. Nope, no fun for you. Save that for a nice dinner at your destination. Yup, much better.
  7. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize.You are on an overseas flight with, I don't know 400 to 600 people jammed in close quarters with questionable air circulation for what?.. 8 or more hours. Yes, a recipe for catching some crazy virus. Now, you might get through your trip okay with incubation times and all but that bug is gonna get you and get you good. I see people come back from these trips all the time and get very sick usually with an upper respiratory tract infection and guess what? I got sick too. I came down with bronchitis and was off a week of work just after my two week of vacation. Yes, my employer loves me. Sooo....wash your hands, bring sanitizer and use it.
  8. Look for local markets and save money. I was in Rome - a very expensive city and very hot. So bottled water was a must. I found a little market up the street from my centrally located hotel that sold 2 litre bottles of water for 35 cents. (well Euros - but still cheap). This sure beats the street vendors selling 500 ml bottles for a buck, oops Euros - now that's a buck and half really. This same little market had fruit and snacks that were cheap, cheap cheap. Great. Fast forward, Santorini, Greece. Same thing!! Little market down the cobblestone street from my our villa. We bought fresh cold cuts and a large loaf of bread enough for 5 people with a two litre bottle of water and it cost us ....wait for it....3.35 Euros!! Say what?? Now nothing where I live is cheaper than that. We were able to have light lunches and save a trip to the local restaurants that were not so cheap. Yes! All good.
  9. Buy a Travel Guide and bring it! I didn't and I wish I had. Learning more about your destination and having a reference book to look things up is handy. I saw a lot of buildings in Rome, a lot!! There was history everywhere but other than the most famous sites I had no idea what I was looking at. Yes. Get a book.
  10. Buy a cell phone travel pack with DATA. But, no I won't need data there is free wifi. And yes there is - hard to log on to and very, very slow Wifi. Yup, should have added data to my travel pack. Oh, well. Finally reached Athens at the very end of my trip and the first hotel with reliable internet. Awww, relief. Yes, web addicted me. I just wanted to check my email. That's all. Blush.

Lonely Planet Europe on a shoestring (Travel Guide)
Lonely Planet Europe on a shoestring (Travel Guide)

It pays to save a buck here and there but splurging on a hot spot to eat or party is a must too!


Books on Travel

I never bought or read any travel books before I left and now that I think about it a good travel guide would have come in handy. We didn't have the internet access that we thought we would have and not everyone spoke English or understood our attempt at the local language so investing in a travel guide is probably a good idea.

One more Tip! - Okay so this makes #11 but its an important one!

American Weigh Scales AMW-LS-110 Digital LuGGaGe Scale, 110 by 0.2 LB
American Weigh Scales AMW-LS-110 Digital LuGGaGe Scale, 110 by 0.2 LB

As mentioned above - I had a friend that had to pay 200.00 to check his heavy luggage. Ouch! Invest in one of these scales and save your money


Buy a digital luggage scale. There were five of us in our travel party and we were able to take take a lot more home by switching up our stuff and balancing the weight between our suitcases. This saved us time and money! Wow, the charges for extra weight are exorbitant.

A friend, who got burned by 200 dollars for heavy luggage, told me to get a digital hand scale and I picked one up at the last minute before we left. I was glad I did.

No extra charges and we watched a family of about our size get stopped at the check in and they were frantically unpacking and readjusting their items between their suitcases right there in the airport. Yes, quite the show. I was certainly glad to have my little scale we flew through the check in with ease. Ta da!

Travelmate Memory Foam Neck Pillow, Dark Blue
Travelmate Memory Foam Neck Pillow, Dark Blue

I can't sleep on planes but many people can because I sure heard them snoring. Join the snorers with this comfy neck cushion


Sleeping on the Plane

Those overnight flights are cheaper usually and tempting. It is hard to sleep on those flights in an upright position. It doesn't matter how far down you are able to put your seat you are still in a sitting position.

Pillow rests help especially to prevent yourself from wrenching your neck. You certainly don't want to start or finish a vacation with a neck that needs a chiropractor! I found this large rest that ties down the side of your body and gives more support. This might work better.

In any case I would recommend taking something to rest your head on even if you don't fall asleep.

Are you able to sleep on planes?

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Calling all travelers! - What are your travel tips?

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