Pre-Trip Planning for Your Travels to Europe

When traveling to Europe, it is essential that you plan ahead. Here are some of the things you can do in advance to make sure you avoid the glitches that may occur when you aren’t prepared.

Pre-trip planning for Europe Travels

Get a Starter Supply of Euros Before You Go
We usually carry a couple hundred euros with us as we travel to Europe. It is nice to have some cash for tipping or taxis when you arrive. While most airports do have ATMs handy, we prefer to have some euros available, just in case. You can get euros at your local bank before you travel (there is a small currency exchange fee).

pre-trip planning includes obtaining euro bank notes in advance

Get some Euros before you travel to Europe

Credit Cards
It is becoming more and more important for you to have a credit card with chip technology when traveling in Europe. Many countries do not accept credit cards with magnetic strips. They will only take credit cards with chips. Here is more information on using credit cards in Europe.

Protect your Credit Cards
We always make photocopies of both sides of our credit cards before traveling. We also make sure we have the international phone numbers for our credit card companies written down or copied from the back of the card. We keep the photocopies in a separate place from the cards along with the phone numbers, so they are available in case our cards are lost or stolen. And, we keep these in our hotel safe while we are touring.

credit cards

Take a few credit cards, but be sure they have chips

We have two different credit cards that we use in Europe. My husband carries one card and I carry the other. That way, if one of us is pick-pocketed, we have the other card immediately available. Also,we always call our credit card company before we leave to tell them when and where we are traveling, so they know that there is no fraudulent credit card usage and they won’t deny any purchases.

Airline Ticket and Hotel Schedules and Confirmations 
We put all of the above information on our detailed itinerary that I develop for every trip. I then send copies via email to our close family and and friends in the event that we need to be contacted. We also print off a few extra copies for quick reference as we travel. I keep this information in my carry-on along with any paper tickets or important information, including my passport.

Speaking of passports, make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months after your return date. You will not be allowed to travel unless that is the case. As with our credit cards, our pre-trip planning includes making photo copies of our passports in case a passport is lost or stolen.

Us passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your trip

Electrical Adaptors and Converters

pre -trip planning includes taking Adaptors and a Converter

Adaptors and a Converter are needed to use electrical appliances in Europe

Europe operates on 220 volts (instead of the standard US 110 volt service). That means if you plug your electrical appliance into a European outlet, using a plug adaptor, but without a converter, sparks will fly!

An electrical Converter converts 220 volt service to 110 volt service. You will need a converter for electrical appliances brought from the US that are not “dual voltage.” You can tell if they are by reading the information on the appliance itself. I have a dual voltage hair curler and all our computer equipment is dual voltage. We have never used a converter.

A Plug Adaptor works with the converter to adapt the US or UK plug to match the European outlet. For our first trip to Europe, I bought a converter and an adaptor kit that included adaptors for all Western European countries. I still use that kit.

Medical Insurance
You never know what might happen when traveling. You could sprain your ankle walking on the those famous cobbled streets, or, like my brother, you could have a heart attack! Check with your medical insurance company to see what they cover when you are traveling in Europe. You may need to purchase supplementary insurance for your trip. If you live in the UK, you might want to look into the benefits of an EHIC.

If possible, keep your prescriptions in the original container to make sure the TSA or border agents know what is in the bottles and can see the prescription number and the name of the prescribing doctor. You don’t want to be hung up at security while they try to figure out if you are carrying illegal drugs!

prescription drugs

Transport your prescriptions in their original bottles

First Aid Kit
I always take a little kit that includes, band aids, antibiotic ointment or spray, Imodium and pain relievers. It is true that you can buy this stuff in Europe, but it can be expensive and you’ll need to buy way more than you’ll need.

At Home
Stop the mail and newspaper delivery, and let you neighbors know that you will be away. You don’t want prospective burglars to see papers piled up at your door. And, your neighbors will keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Putting your lights on timers is also a good practice.

Finally, it is essential that you do some pre-trip planning so that you can truly relax and enjoy the beauty of Europe. Even if the unexpected happens, you will have peace of mind knowing that you have done everything you can to provide for your health and safety while on your trip.

Written by Terri Fogarty for This post is sponsored by UKEHIC.

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  1. says

    Good advice! On the card piece, I would add to let your bank know your travelling so they don’t deactivate the card for suspected fraud. Nothing worse than being at the checkout and having it declined because the bank didn’t know you were out of the country!

    Also, depending on the country, you may not want to use ATM’s that have loose or odd looking card readers. Card skimmers are prevalent and criminals can get your card details easily if you use a compromised ATM. I’ve had a couple thousand taken from my account over several days because of this before!

  2. says

    One thing I like to tell people when going anywhere on vacation is to think about getting a travel card, it is a lot like a credit card but not the same as a gift card. I like to have a travel card with a set amount on it and keep it in my carry on and just leave it there as I want to have something I can easily get to just in case I loose my wallet or get my wallet stolen.

    I suggest not putting it in your wallet or purse as it would do you no good if it were lost or stolen. I never like the idea of being without any kind of money on an overseas vacation far away from home and having a travel card kind of hidden away always makes me feel better that I am covered just a bit in case something happens.

    I also put everything important in my wallet on my copy machine and make a copy of it and write the phone number next to the picture of the credit card as another just in case so I will know how many credit cards to cancel. This is also for insurance cards and anything else I would need to get when getting back home, I would keep this paper in the same carry on pocket as I would keep the travel card. Never hurts to plan for the unexpected.

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