Visiting Europe?

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If you’re planning a trip to Europe, you’re in the right place.*

This page will introduce you to everything you need to know before booking your Europe Vacation!

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  • Passport Validity: Ensure your passport is valid for at least three to six months beyond your planned departure date, as requirements vary by country.

However, we really recommend 6 months. Sometimes border patrol gets a little iffy about 3 months.

  • Visa Waiver Program: Many European countries participate in the Schengen Agreement, allowing travelers from certain countries to enter visa-free for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

The countries part of the Schengen agreement are Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

This means that, as long as you are part of one of the countries that do not need a visa to enter, you can travel between these countries easily and without going through customs. It will just be like traveling between US states or Canadian provinces. You will go through customs when you enter Europe and when you exit, but not in between if you are traveling between these coutnries.

It’s important to note that you can *only* stay in the visa-free Schengen zone for a maximum of 90 days before you have to leave to go to a different country in the EU that is not part of the Schengen agreement. Then you can enter again in another 90 days to total no more than 3 months in every 6-month period.

NOTE: This is all going to change in 2025. The details are HERE.

  • Visa Requirements: If you’re from a country not covered by the visa waiver program, you may need to apply for a visa before traveling. Check the specific requirements for each country you plan to visit.

HERE is a list of who does and does not need a visa.

Always check the official government websites or consult with your travel agent for the most up-to-date and country-specific entry requirements before leaving to Europe.

We recommend travel insurance to everyone going to Europe.

Ideally, you should book your travel insurance before you book anything related to your vacation. At the very least, book it as soon as you’ve made your first reservation.

We like World Nomads for this.

Your travel insurance policy should cover you for delays, illness, accidents and more.

If you have an annual policy, or cover through your credit card, ensure you will be covered for the duration of your visit.

Also, check that your insurance at home will allow you to leave your home empty for the duration of your trip. If not, consider getting a house sitter or talking to the insurance company.


Emergency Number: In most European countries, the emergency number is 112, which can be dialed free of charge from any phone. Call this number to reach police, fire, or medical services.

Utilize Embassy or Consulate Services: If you’re a citizen of another country and find yourself in a serious emergency, contact your embassy or consulate for assistance. They can provide support, guidance, and help with communication in challenging situations.

Understanding the time zones in Europe is essential for coordinating communication with loved ones in different parts of the world. Utilize a reliable timezone converter to ensure accurate timing adjustments.

Throughout Europe, time zones vary, with some regions observing daylight saving time during the summer months. For instance, in the winter season, the timezone may be GMT +1, while during the summer, it could shift to GMT +2 due to daylight saving time.

Depending on where you flying from, you may find yourselves crossing the international date line meaning you may lose/gain a day when you land in Europe or depart from it. Make sure you refer to the times and dates on your flight ticket for precise arrival information.

There are 2 different methods to planning your route in Europe:

  1. Use 1 – a couple of main cities as home bases. Then, you will go back to your hotel/AirBnB each night and spend time exploring those main cities and going on day trips to smaller cities around the main city.

The benefits of this are that you don’t have to pack up your luggage all the time to go to new accommodations. The downsides are that you won’t get to explore cities as fully on your day trips, as you’ll always be having to get back.

2. Travel from one place to the next. This is our personal preference. You spend just a few nights in each city and then pack up and keep moving on between larger and smaller cities.

We prefer this because it really allows you to explore those cities deeper and get a more cultural and authentic experience.

How Many Days To Spend In Each City

Of course, this will be subjective, but we’ve found a good rule of thumb to be around 2-3 days in large European cities (like Madrid, Paris etc.) This is assuming you are wanting to see JUST that city. If you are using it as a base for day trips, you will want more.

Smaller cities are usually pretty good for 1-2 days.

This is based on these days being full days and not being “travel days,” where most of your days are spent on a plane, train, or driving.

The optimal time to visit Europe often falls within the shoulder months of April and May or September and October, offering a perfect balance of usually good weather, fewer crowds, and potential cost savings.

During these periods, the weather is typically mild and pleasant across much of the continent, and there are usually fewer other tourists. It’s always nice to be able to see the country without feeling like sardines.

Additionally, accommodations and flights may be more readily available and affordable compared to the high season.

Europe has ALL kinds of accommodation to choose from.

If you really want to save a buck, you can use a hostel. However, as a couple, we really don’t recommend it as it’s. not going to bring the romantic vacation vibes you’re probably looking for.

We think the best option is We always find they have the most variety and best prices, especially if you keep booking with them and get “Genius” status (which gives you discounts.)

There is also AirBnB, which has some good options. However, we do find that these are *usually* more expensive than

Do I Need To Pre-Book Accommodations?

During peak season (May-August) we strongly encourage you to prebook. Do the same near public holidays, school holidays, and the ski season (in affected areas).

If you prefer not to prebook, be aware that you might find the best accommodation is sold out.

However, we typically do NOT pre-book accommodation because we like to have flexibility with our travels and don’t really care where we stay. We have NEVER had an issue getting somewhere to stay last minute. However, it’s definitely not always the nicest. If you’re not okay with that possibility, pre-booking is for you.

  • Train: Europe boasts an AWESOME rail network, making train travel an efficient and scenic option. High-speed trains like the Eurostar and TGV connect major cities quickly, while scenic routes offer picturesque views of countryside and mountains.

Traveling by train is our favorite and we LOVE the “Trainline” App to make booking trains really easy from our phones.

  • Car: Renting a car allows for freedom and flexibility, especially for exploring rural areas and small towns not easily accessible by public transportation. Europe’s well-maintained road network makes road trips enjoyable, with opportunities to discover charming villages, scenic routes, and hidden gems along the way.

However, if you are spending most of your time in big cities, we do NOT recommend renting a car. Gas is expensive and finding parking can be VERY hard. You are usually better walking or taking the metro.

If you do rent a car, we always use Discover Cars. You can see all the rental car companies and. compare prices in one.

  • Ferry/Boat: Europe’s extensive coastline and numerous islands make ferry and boat travel a popular choice for coastal exploration and island hopping.

Ferry Hopper is our go-to for booking ferry tickets!

  • Budget Airlines: Low-cost carriers like Ryanair, EasyJet, and Wizz Air offer affordable air travel options between major European cities. While less luxurious than traditional airlines, budget airlines provide a convenient and cost-effective way to cover long distances quickly.

We almost always fly these budget airlines. It’s very important to note that you should always check-in online beforehand. We didn’t know that we had to do this and ended up having to pay hundreds of dollars at the airport.

  • Bus: Buses provide a cost-effective option for getting around Europe. Bus companies like FlixBus (our usual choice) offer extensive networks connecting cities and towns across the continent, with amenities like Wi-Fi and comfortable seating making longer journeys a little less unbearable!

The weather in Europe can change alot so we recommend packing clothing to suit different seasons. Dressing in layers here is key.

We have all our recommended packing gear here as well as some more on the bottom of this page.

Make sure you have a universal adapter so that you can plug all your gadgets in!

It’s worth noting that medication should be in original containers and accompanied by a prescription (if required).

Fresh fruit, vegetables and some meats are not allowed. And remember to declare all food items.

When you arrive in Europe by air, you will clear immigration (where your passport and possible visa will be checked) and collect your bags.

You will need to clear customs at the first European airport you land at, even if you are connecting to a domestic flight.

NOTE: in some airports, your immigration will be all done electronically. You will simply walk into a gate, place your passport face down, look at a screen to get your photo taken and then proceed through the gate when it opens again.

connecting to a domestic flight

Generally, your airline will transfer your luggage on a through ticket; however, we always recommend asking before you board the plane how that will go down when you land. You will still need to clear immigration and customs.

If your flights are booked separately, we recommend you allow 3 hours between landing in your first country and departing on your next flight.

We recommend arriving about 2 hours before your domestic flight is set to depart. With many European airlines, you will find a “timeline” on your ticket that gives you all the recommended times to do things like arrive, check in, etc. It’s super handy!

  • Currency: While each European country may have its own currency, the euro is widely accepted across the continent, especially in popular tourist destinations and major cities. However, we still recommend you carry some local currency when traveling to smaller towns or rural areas.
  • Credit and Debit Cards: Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Europe, especially Visa and Mastercard. Many businesses, including restaurants, hotels, and shops, accept card payments. However, it’s always a good idea to carry some cash for smaller purchases or places that don’t accept cards.
  • ATMs: ATMs are plentiful in Europe, allowing travelers to withdraw cash in the local currency. However, be mindful of ATM fees and currency conversion charges, which can vary depending on your bank and the ATM provider. Look for ATMs affiliated with major banks to minimize fees.

ATM Fee Saver is a great app to find fee-less ATMS!

  • Currency Conversion Stores: Currency conversion stores are available in most tourist areas, offering services for exchanging money. However, it’s essential to compare rates and read reviews on Google before exchanging currency, as some stores may charge high fees or offer crappy exchange rates. Look for stores that advertise “no commission” to avoid hidden charges.

We use XE Currency to check the local rate before using a currency conversion store.

Tipping: in Europe, tipping is not very customary. 5-10% at restaurants is plenty (10% is considered generous), and rounding up to the nearest dollar or leaving a couple of coins at coffee shops is plenty.

Making sure you have a connection is one of the most important things to think about. No one wants to lose Google Maps and get lost!

During our travels, here are what we’ve found to be the best options:

  1. Google.Fi: (Our FAVORITE) This literally changed how we travel. Google.Fi is a service (unfortunately only for those in the USA) that would replace your standard cell service. It has the option to get UNLIMITED data worldwide for a really reasonable cost and has cheaper plans for families. Caleb and I have used this for years now, and we’ve had full bars all across remote areas in Europe.

    If you’re in the USA, it’s a MUST because it’s made traveling so easy for us.

    Check it out here:

    If you can’t/don’t want to change your cell service, here are some other options:

  1. WorldSim – before getting our GoogleFi service, we mostly got a SIM card from WorldSim in advance. You could definitely get one at the airport, but then you have to deal with it when you land and worry about getting multiple if you travel to other countries.

    They are also really tiny and I lost my USA Sim card once which was a nightmare. But, WorldSim now has e-sims if you have newer phones that use these.

    Check it out:
  2. Travel Wifi – this is a store in some European countries where you can pick up and drop off a portable wifi brick (and even pick up/drop off in different locations!) We’ve used this multiple times and LOVED it. Nice to not deal with tiny little SIM cards.

    Check it out here:

If you find yourself in a situation where you are desperately looking for wifi, we’ve found that Mcdonald’s is usually a safe bet! And, you can find them widely around Europe!

Europe is pretty much heaven for foodies! Here are some of our best tips for getting the best eats:

  • Skip restaurants with English menus or the ones in city centers that have big menus with photos posted outside. Don’t worry about not knowing the language; just check out what others are eating and point to what they are having! It’s always worked well for me!
  • Forget the diet. Savor pasta in Italy, feast in Greece, and enjoy Swiss chocolate. YOLO baby!
  • Make sure you know local dining times and operation hours. For example, Spaniards eat late dinners, and some Italian restaurants close in the afternoon.
  • Join a local food tour to discover hidden gems. Try to do this the first day so that you get the local road recs from the guide right away! You’ll also usually meet some cool people on the tour! We usually use Devour Tours, as their tours are always AMAZING!
  • Always Google search restaurants before eating. We almost always eat at those with 4.5+ stars and it’s never led us to a bad meal.

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