If you’re planning a big European summer vacation to rival that of the Griswold’s, there are a few things you should know. Actually, there are a few things they should have known too, but it’s too late for that.
You, on the other hand, still have time to make this an epic European vacation that you’ll remember fondly for a lifetime.
Here are 5 tips you should have before your European vacation this summer.
1. Travel like a local
If there’s one thing you should know about vacationing in Europe in the summer, it’s this: Expect crowds! This is peak season for European travel, and that means all the major attractions are going to get crowded. If you must visit touristy spots, be sure to do so during the week and get out as early as possible. You’ll still encounter lines and crowds, but it won’t be nearly as bad as midday on a Saturday.
You may find that you have a much better (and more relaxed) summer vacation if you spend time in each country as if you’re a local. Visit the small towns and explore their culture. It’s not the Louvre, but you’ll find that things are vastly different than in other parts of the world. European cities have a charm and vibe that you really have to experience to understand. But you’re not going to get it by fighting crowds in Rome.
2. Avoid the month of August
If you can plan your trip in June or July, that’s probably ideal. Most of Europe takes vacation in August, and you’ll find that many local shops are closed. All the major attractions and beaches will be open (so it’s not a total bust), but it will definitely detract from your experience. Also, because so many people are on vacation during this time, the beaches can get insanely crowded. If you can possibly avoid August, it’s probably best to do so.
3. Remain flexible
For the best possible experience, you’ll want to remain flexible during your stay. You’re going to want to explore within Europe, and you may not want to plan out each leg of your trip so precisely. This is why many people who travel to Europe get a one-way ticket. With a one-way ticket, you’re free to arrive in one spot and depart from another, and you’re not tied down on which city you depart from. Let’s say you arrive in Switzerland and end in Prague. If you had a ticket to depart from anywhere else, you’d have to cut the fun short to travel back to that spot. It’s usually better to keep things flexible on trips like these.
4. Rent a car
There are so many ways to get around Europe, but the best way is to rent a car. Unless you’re planning to tour through England, renting a car in Europe should be a relatively seamless experience for you. And, you’ll get to pack up and go wherever and whenever you want. Having your own vehicle really affords you the ultimate freedom. But when you do go for a rental, make sure they give you a new and reliable car and be sure to maintenance your car if you’re planning to be in Europe for the entire summer. You don’t want to get stuck on the road somewhere – protocols are different in each country, and it can get a little dicey. Best to avoid it if you can.
5. Pack light
Even when you rent a car, you’re not going to want to lug around a lot of luggage. Keep in mind that cars tend to be much smaller in Europe, so you may not have the space you expect. Remember that you’ll always be able to find a laundromat wherever you go, so you really don’t need to bring more than a few outfits and basic toiletries.
But one thing you won’t want to leave home is your universal travel adapter. You can get one there, but depending on where you are, it can be expensive. For the most part, you’ll have trouble using your electronic devices in Europe without a travel adapter.
What are your best tips for traveling to Europe in the summer?