PHOTO: Avoid doing too much in Amsterdam to maximize your enjoyment. (photo by Worldwide Scott)
With its captivating cultures, incredible landscapes and rich historical sights, Europe makes a dazzling first impression on travelers. Indeed, most maiden voyages to the continent end up full of cherished memories that serve as motivation for a return.
But these first jaunts to Europe are often jammed with plenty of mistakes too, and they can drain fun from the first experience. The following are five of the most common faux pas and how to avoid them.
MORE Destination & Tourism
Cramming Too Much In
To an extent, furiously ticking off to-do lists and snapping shots of ‘must sees’ is part of the European travel experience, but overdoing it can really be a drag. Whether it be the siesta in Spain or the ‘La Dolce Vita’ in Italy, part of what outsiders admire about European culture in the first place is their ability to take life a little slower.
So you should do the same.
Building in days off to simply do nothing but read or go out for coffee at that cute cafe down the street will go a long way to negating the effects of cramming.
READ MORE: Norwegian Air to launch $65 routes between Europe and the U.S.
Bringing Too Much Stuff
Even if you are not a backpacker who has to pack light for the sake of your spine, downsizing is still the way to go. A light suitcase or backpack will be easier to wield during your trip—and you want to have the option of picking it up if you're making your way across old cobblestone streets.
Second, you aren’t traveling to the far end of the world here. You are coming to Europe, so 99 percent of things you could buy at home will be available. And wouldn’t it be more fun to make a trip to a local shop to buy some clothes and accessories than to lug all of your old stuff over from home? The former is sure to result in cherished souvenirs and an authentic local experience.
Skipping the Tipping
I don’t know who started the rumor, but the word has seemingly gotten out that tipping is not common in Europe.
This could not be further from the truth. While the waitstaff typically makes a living wage and the amount left after a good experience is usually around 10%, it is still expected. Pay attention in tourist zones, however, because some restaurants will add the service charge automatically. And while the servers may be crossing their fingers it catches on, ‘double-tipping’ still isn’t a thing in Europe.
READ MORE: Weekend Getaways: Get to Europe Before the Crowds Arrive
Only Going to Big Cities
Paris. London. Rome. Berlin. These are all enthralling and you’ve been dreaming of seeing them for years, but they can also wear you down if you aren’t careful.
Attractions will be spread out in a large global city, and there will be plenty of crowds and locals to contend with. This saps a good amount of energy. For every big city you visit, try to balance out your itinerary with a quaint, walkable place. Small towns in stunning natural settings (i.e. alpine enclaves in Switzerland, riverside towns in Germany or villages in England) will typically do the trick.
Being a Bit Too Boisterous
Sometimes, locals are able to spot tourists in Europe with their eyes closed.
How? Well, because we tend to talk much louder than the locals. This is especially true on trains and buses where booming conversations are just not as common. Dial down the volume a notch or wait until you alight to share that story and you’ll fit right in.