After much contemplation and speculation, you have finally chosen Europe as your destination. Travelling abroad is exciting but could also be unnerving at the same time. However, European travel comes in two folds- Western and Eastern. Confused? Do not worry, we will give you a sneak peek of both to help you make the right decision! Let’s make sure that your plan works out by creating a timeline and guiding you step by step.
Pre-trip jitters are no strangers to us, which is why it is essential to prep yourself for the trip way before the travel date! Here are a few tips to make yourself trip-ready and ensure everything’s in place before the D-day! Be it two weeks prior to the trip or just a few days before it, we have got you covered with all the necessities that you need.
Two Weeks Prior
Here are some questions you may have before you head on to that fun trip in Europe:
What are the Important Documents required to Travel To Europe?
Visa - The earliest time to apply for a visa would be three months. However, the latest you could apply is two weeks prior to your trip. The documents required are:
- Application form signed as per passport signature
- Passport with a validity of six months
- Two passport sized colour photographs taken at least three months prior
- You will also have to give an interview at your nearest visa application centre. Once that is done, pay the visa fee and wait for your visa to be processed. This usually takes up to 15 days post the visa interview.
You can also apply for a Europe visa online with SOTC.
What Do I Pack?
Be it Western or Eastern Europe, here are some essentials you’ll need:
- Clothing depending on the season of travel
- Comfortable light clothing
- Body pouch to conceal important documents and money
- Formal clothing
- Day backpacks
- Sun-smart gear
- Heavy-duty deodorant
- Comfortable shoes
- Some tit bits to munch on for the journey
- A book to read
What is the Maximum Luggage Allowed by Airlines?
- Your luggage should not weigh more than 23 kgs for Economy class and 32 kgs for Business class for storage in the luggage section of the aircraft.
- For cabin baggage, the limit is 7kgs.
However, please check the luggage rules of the airline you are flying as these tend to differ across carriers.
Two To Three Days Before The Trip
- Western Europe - SOTC provides you with currency notes and Forex Cards which can be used for ATM withdrawals and electronic transactions at retail outlets. The currency accepted in Western European countries such as France, Britain and Switzerland respectively are-
- €1= 80 INR (Euro)
- £1= 89 INR (Pound Sterling)
- One Swiss franc= 72 INR
- Eastern Europe – The Currency accepted in Eastern European countries such as Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Kosovo is (€) Euro
Power Banks And Adapters
You need to make sure that you are always accessible. It is essential to stay connected with the people you are travelling with and to have access to information while on the go. Hence, make sure that your power banks are always charged in case your phone batteries run out during the trip. You do not want a dead phone when you reach an unknown destination. Also, do not forget to carry universal plug chargers and adapters with you. Europe uses the same two round pronged outlets and Type C plugs and sockets. To be on the safer side, you should get all-in-one adapter since they may differ as per the European country you are visiting.
- Hand sanitiser is a must to protect yourself from any germs you may have been exposed to during the trip.
- Toothpaste and toothbrush, though available in the hotel, is a more hygienic option if it’s your own.
- A sunscreen and moisturiser at all times, to protect your skin from the sun and the dryness that one’s face is susceptible to in the winters.
- Your own face wash, which you can use anywhere and anytime during the trip to feel fresh.
- Shampoo and conditioner, since you know your hair type best; the hotel provided ones may not suit your skin.
- Your personal hair comb or brush, which ideally, must not be shared with anyone.
- Winter clothes
- Swimwear if you are visiting in the summers and wish to laze around in the pool or the sea
- A cardigan or two keep yourself warm
- A lightweight jacket
- A pair of woollen leggings
- An elegant outfit
- Sports shoes
- A pair or two of formal shoes for the night
- Always keep a first aid kit handy with you in case of any emergencies.
- Pain killers
- Antiseptic cream
- Safety pins
- Crepe rolled bandages
- Skin rash cream
- Cough and cold medicines
- Prescription medicine with the prescription
- Antidiarrheal medicines
The Day Of Travel
You could carry some ready to eat food like biscuits, nuts, sandwiches or rolls to keep your stomach full during the trip or just in case the airlines food doesn’t suit you. Homemade food is safer as you do not want an upset stomach on a flight.
- Valid photo identification proofs such as your passport to enter the airport and even to access certain places in Europe
- A printed copy of your ticket
- Photocopies of important documents such as your tickets, passports, visas, valid photo identification proofs, credit/debit/forex cards, and hotel and other sightseeing bookings
- Scanned copies of the above, which must be emailed to yourself
God forbid, if unwanted circumstances were to interrupt your trip or cut it short after the bookings have been made, travel insurance is a way to get some of your money back. Most international travel insurance companies provide you services such as medical assistance on your phone and reimbursement of medical costs during the trip, no matter where you are.
Always keep handy the numbers of the local Consulate, police and other emergency services as well as of the travel consultants and agents you have organised your trip through.
Confirm your hotel bookings and insist on the payment receipt or booking voucher before you reach your destination. Some hotels also provide pick up and drop facilities from and to the airport. SOTC also organises hotel bookings for you as a part of its Europe tour packages.
Credit cards are accepted by most hotels and restaurants in Europe. You will also find 24/7 ATMs. MasterCard and Visa are the widely accepted credit cards in Europe. However, do notify your credit card company of your travel dates before you leave and check on the surcharges that may be applicable on international travel.
During The Trip
Western Europe - If you are visiting Western Europe, knowing a few French/Italian phrases could prove to be handy. Here are some phrases in French, the most widely spoken language in Western Europe:
- Hello/Good Morning- Bonjour
- My name is – Je m’appelle
- Can you help me? – Pouvez-vous m’aider?
- Where? – Où?
- I feel sick- J'ai mal au cœur.
Eastern Europe – If you are visiting Eastern Europe, knowing a few Russian phrases could prove to be handy. Here are some phrases in the most widely spoken language in Eastern Europe:
- Hello/Good Morning – Privet
- My name is - Menya zovut
- Can you help me? - Mozhete vy pomoch' mne?
- Where? – Gde?
- I feel sick - Menya toshnit
Tips For Travelling In Europe
- If you are backpacking across Western Europe and are looking for some peace and solitude with some entertainment for your kids, head to the bikeable city of Amsterdam. If you are an art lover, do visit the Anne Frank and Van Gogh Museums. Head to Dublin to admire its doors as Irish eyes smile back at you. Pack a hearty lunch and head to the National Museum of Ireland.
- Paris, London and Rome are some of the most frequented cites to enjoy in Western Europe.
- Getting around - The most convenient way to explore Western Europe would be to hop onto a Megabus, a cheap mode of transport to get around Europe. Use the European rail system and get a Eurail pass for short city-to-city travel.
- If you are looking to try out some local dishes, try Currywurst in Germany or grab a freshly baked baguette in France!
- If you are taking the road less travelled and are looking for some breathtaking Instagram worthy locations, head to Prague and stroll across Charles Bridge. Head to Budapest to witness its larger than life buildings and dramatic architecture. If you want some adventure, head to Slovakia’s picturesque High Tatras to hike and ski.
- Budapest, Croatia and Russia are some of the most frequented places to enjoy in Eastern Europe.
- Getting around – The most convenient way to explore Eastern Europe would be by using the metro networks in places like Russia, Poland, Czech Republic and Budapest. You can also hop on to shared minibuses if you are travelling between mountain towns.
- If you are looking to try out some local dishes, try Trukli (Cheese pastry) when in Croatia. Also try the Apple strudel and Sacher Torte in Austria.
- Tipping is considered unnecessary by most European countries. However, if you do plan to tip, do pay a modest one since people in the service sector already earn a decent wage.
- Try to keep your volume down
- Greet shopkeepers when you enter and leave a store
- Make sure your hands are visible as you eat
- Do not assume that everybody converses in English. Make an attempt to speak some French before you resort to English.
Cost of living in Europe
Western Europe -
- A double room in a decent hotel would cost you around €70-120
- Meals in good restaurants could go up to €20-40 per person depending upon the type of restaurant and what you order
- A short taxi trip would cost you €10-20 approximately
Eastern Europe -
- A double room in a decent hotel would cost you around €40
- Meals in good restaurants start from €10 per person depending upon the type of restaurant and what you order
- A short taxi trip would cost you €10-15 approximately
When to visit Europe
Western Europe -
- The best time to visit Western Europe would be between Mid-May to Mid-September, especially if you want to take a dip in the lake or sea. There are hardly any fluctuations in the weather and the temperature more or less remains the same.
- To engage in some skiing, do travel during late November and April.
Eastern Europe -
- The best time to visit Eastern Europe would be between July to August, especially if you want to head to the beach or go hiking.
- If you are a party animal, do travel during May to June and September to October since that is when spring and music festivals unfold.
A Glimpse of Europe through Art:
Movie – Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge: this iconic film captures scenic locations across Europe
Music – Ho gaya hai tujhko: shot at King’s Cross Station in London