Travelling to Europe? 5 things you need to do before you go


London Paddington

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Many of us, due to the pandemic are only now slowly getting back into international travel, whether it be a long-haul trip or just city break or ticking off a bucket list moment such. as tours in Paris, the world is open again. My boys and I have just embarked on a trip around Europe by train and I thought I would share the top 5 essential things to do before you head off on your own adventure.

1. Check your Passports

While this may be obvious, the amount of times I've seen people miss out, especially those with kids (as their passports only last 5yrs) due to expired passports has been surprisingly a lot. The UK passport office is still experiencing delays and it may take longer than expected to get your new one back, there are options for fast tracking but these can cost significantly more so don't leave this until the last minute.

2. Apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

While this does not replace travel insurance it's still really important to get one of these free cards which lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. When I was travelling in Amsterdam a few years back I needed to see a GP for a non-urgent appointment to get some medication and was able to quickly arrange an appointment with a local GP for free as I had what was then called the UK European Health insurance card. The UK European Health Insurance Cards can still be used if valid but once expired you need to reapply for a GHIC. Also it goes without saying also book comprehensive travel insurance.


3. Print physical copies of all your bookings

While the majority of us rely on smart phones and smart phone passes we should always print physical copies of our train reservations, flight plans, accommodation bookings etc as what would happen if you lost your phone or it was stolen, or simply ran out of battery and couldn't access the ticket, address or information? It's already happened on our trip where I thought I would be able to charge my phone on the train but the charger port was not working so I ran out of battery, luckily I had a small portable charger that helped a little but I also had our train reservations and accommodation booking printed otherwise I wouldn't have know the address or hotel contact number without it.

4. Decide how you plan to get around & prebook your transport

If you are just going for a quick city break and plan to walk to most of the sights thats fine but if you are planning on using public transport make sure to research where you need to buy tickets as most trams, busses and metros require a ticket before boarding. Also purchasing rail reservations beforehand if you are planning on taking intercity or high speed trains is highly recommended as these often sell out beforehand. It also goes without saying that that if you plan to hire a car do this in advance to ensure both availability and the best rate and make sure you driving licence is valid. When it comes to car rental there are lots of options so shop around and do Car rental compare online.

5. Still check for additional Covid restrictions

While most of Europe has fully opened up there are still some restrictions in place in a few countries and need to be adhered too. They are usually to do with mask wearing, such as in German it's not a legal requirement to wear an FF2 mask on public transport. You don't want to be subject to a fine if you have not prepared and packed the right mask.

European travel

Of course the main thing is to have fun while travelling but doing your research beforehand will save you a lot of time, money and inconvenience and having a rough itinerary before setting out also enables you to have a better idea of what kind of budget you need before going. Travelling slightly off peak will also mean cheaper accommodation and less crowds, allowing you to really enjoy the popular sites with less queues.

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