Tips for Summer Travel to Europe

By James Pan

I recently returned from a trip to Lisbon. To save you money, time, and possible headaches, here are some tips for summer travel to Europe:

Before you go, take valuables and firearms out of your bedroom and office and put them somewhere that is not so obvious. Thieves are likely to check these areas first. Temporarily place valuables in the attic or some other non-obvious place. Thieves work quickly and will spend only about ten minutes in your home; so anything that makes it harder for them to find valuables is worth the effort.

  • Make sure your passports do not expire within six months of your return date. You will not be able to travel with your current passport if it expires sooner.
  • Get a no-fee ATM card and credit card. This will save you money on foreign transaction fees.
  • Use bank ATMs instead of Euronet ATMs or “mom and pop” ATMs, which often charge high fees.
  • Choose the “Euro” and "no conversion" option when using your ATM card or credit card. This will avoid paying a foreign transaction fee.
  • To save $10 a day from Verizon and ATT international plans, get an e-sim card with the WhatsApp and Skype apps on your phone. I used this on my last two trips: It is a little tricky to install so search for some YouTube videos for help.
  • Research pickpocketing in Europe and how to avoid it. This is a common problem in Europe, so it is important to be aware of the risks. Here is an example of a YouTube video on how to avoid pickpocketing in Paris (there are plenty more, and 20 minutes spent on these videos may save you many hours of frustration on your trip):
  • Do not carry your passport with you unless you must. Keep your passport, backup no-fee ATM and credit cards (use different banks from the ones you carry), and extra cash in a safe place at your hotel or Airbnb.
  • Be suspicious of people trying to assist you at train or subway stations. These people may be trying to pickpocket you. This does not mean you should be afraid to ask for help—just stay alert.
  • Keep valuables in a money belt under your shirt. 
  • Do not leave anything valuable in a backpack (like money or cameras). These can easily be stolen by a skilled thief by unzipping the pack (or slitting it open with a razor knife!). When you do carry important items in your backpack, keep it in front of you (or use a chest pack).
  • When on trains and subways, keep your suitcase and other bags away from the doors, especially when they are about to close because that is when bags are most vulnerable.
  • Pick up some extra euros for your next European vacation while the exchange rate is good!

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