We loved our trips to Europe. For history buffs like us, we loved the museums and beautiful architecture. However, countries like Austria and Germany can be expensive and traveling between countries can be daunting. Here are 5 of our travel tips to help make your Europe trip more enjoyable.
1. Book Train Tickets in Advance. Train routes can sell out so booking in advance of your trip will help you stay on your itinerary. Also, it simply is less stressful when you arrive at the train station if all you have to do is find your platform. Most local connections, such as a day in Czech Republic, can be purchased in person. For all train trips, take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the route so you can be sure that you are on the correct train and getting off at the correct destination. This task ended up being a fun activity for the kids, both of whom are now expert train travelers.
2. Travel Light with Backpacks
This tip actually applies to most of our trips, especially any multi-city vacation. When traveling by train in Europe, you may often need to walk a fair distance between your lodging and the train station or even within the larger train stations, and carrying a backpack is easier to maneuver. Most airlines allow you to use the overhead bin for your backpack so you have the added benefit of avoiding luggage carousals or possibly having your bags lost along the way. (photo below from Italy trip).
3. Bring a Paperback Book or Two for Train Trips
We love train travel in Europe. It's comfortable and easy and you don't have to figure out roads or directions once you find your train. Some legs of a train trip can be long. We recommend bringing a paper book instead of relying on a device. It's a small difference but for some reason having a paper book in your lap invites more conversation than an electronic device. Perhaps it's the fact that we have been conditioned to leave people alone when they're on their phones but using a paper book does help with engaging in conversation as you enjoy the scenery. Most AirBnB's have a small library. I usually bring a book I don't mind "donating" to the BnB's library so it frees up room in my bad for souvenirs I acquire along the way.
4. Day Pack and Meals/Snacks On the Go.
Europe is expensive and most tourist areas are especially expensive. The easiest way to keep your daily costs down is to bring a day pack (mine came with my larger backpack as a combo pack, like one of these), and pack it with snacks and a sack lunch. We even buy our snacks in bulk at home and each pack a gallon zip lock bag full for the trip so make sure we find what we like but also keep the cost down. Plus, as you eat your way through the trip, you make more room for souvenirs. Examples include jerky, protein bars, and nuts. For lunch, we typically bring cheese, crackers, fruit, and veggies.
This one may seem silly but it's oddly satisfying to see how many steps you take in a European sight-seeing day. I use a Fitbit Charge but there are many different ones available on the market.