10 tips to travel
Very soon, you are going to travel through Europe! What an adventure!
Before you leave, there are several important things you need to check and/or fix:
1. Your national ID card or passport has to be valid
If your national ID card or passport is due to expire during your trip, make sure you apply for a new one on time. Driving licences, post, bank or tax cards are not accepted as valid travel documents or proof of identity.
The free movement of persons is a fundamental right guaranteed by the EU to its citizens. It entitles every EU citizen to travel, work and live in any EU country without special formalities. Schengen cooperation enhances this freedom by enabling citizens to cross internal borders without being subjected to border checks.
But watch out: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and United Kingdom are non-Schengen countries. When travelling to or from a non-Schengen country you must show a valid ID or passport at the border.
2. Make sure you are covered
No one ever thinks they’ll get sick, injured, or robbed while traveling. But it happens. Check with your national health insurance how you’re covered.
As an EU national, if you are suddenly taken ill or have an accident during a temporary visit to another EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you are entitled to use the public healthcare services on the same terms and at the same cost as the people insured in that country.
Each country has its own rules for public medical provision. In some, treatment is free or you only have to pay part of the cost; in others you have to pay the full cost and then claim a refund. So keep all your bills, prescriptions and receipts so that you can apply for reimbursement in the country you are visiting or, failing that, when you get home.
The European Health Insurance Card is available free from your national health insurer and proves that you are insured in an EU country. It simplifies the procedures and helps to speed up the reimbursement of costs. Some countries incorporate the card on the reverse side of a national card while others issue separate cards.
The European Health Insurance Card app gives you information on emergency phone numbers, treatments covered, costs and how to claim reimbursement.
Watch out, the European Health Insurance Card is not a substitute for travel insurance as it does not cover costs such as repatriation or mountain rescue in ski resorts. So you may want to take out travel insurance to cover those risks.
Important: A prescription from your doctor is valid in all EU countries, but you should check that the prescribed medicine is authorised for sale and is available in the country you are visiting. Ask for a cross-border prescription, designed to help pharmacists fulfil the prescription by giving them clear and relevant information about your needs.
3. Prepare your journey
In Europe, you can discover many interesting places. Get off the beaten path. Seek out less known places that don’t see much tourism. Of course, you can travel to popular sites, but other locations that are not on the tourist trail might just be as beautiful.
Sketch out an itinerary and plan the places you want to visit. Moreover, make an estimation of how much money you are going to spend during your trip. You can find sample itineraries, inspiration and budget tips in the online travel information pack.
4. Pack your luggage in a smart way
Don’t take too many things with you, less than 10 kilo should be enough. Remember that you have to carry every kilo with you. And if you roll your clothes when packing, you save space.
If you’re not sure about packing something, you probably don’t need it. It’s also possible to buy most things at your destination country if you found out you forgot something.
But always bring along: your national ID or passport, cash, debit card and cell-phone.
5. Be informed on the transport conditions
You will mainly be travelling by train during your trip.
Especially for the ones who chose the flexible travel option, please note that certain trains may require reservation. In these cases, you have to make the train reservations yourself during their travel period. And when travelling by night, check the possibility of booking a bed in that particular train. See the overview of reservation cost per country, also added to the information package, to avoid surprises when taking your means of transport.
6. Find an accommodation
Accommodation is not included into your travel pass. You need to take care of this yourself.
In Europe, there are many ways of organising your accommodation. You could for example go to a camping, stay in a hostel, book Airbnb or stay at a friend’s place. In any case, make sure that you think in advance where you are going to stay, how you can reach your accommodation and if it is safe.
7. Take care of your personal safety
There are several things you need to take into consideration in terms of safety, for instance:
- Check the list of relevant contact points, included in the online travel information package, and make sure you save emergency numbers!
- Ask the personnel of your accommodation for the safe and unsafe local areas (especially at night).
- Be discrete. Don’t wear an obvious ‘tourist’ outfit (don’t wear for example a loud shirt with a camera hanging around your neck).
- Consider carrying an extra wallet with a small amount of cash. If you’re directly confronted by a mugger, you can hand over this wallet and avoid further distress.
- It’s worth spending extra money on safety. This means for instance that it might be better paying a taxi at night, instead of walking alone.
8. Take care of your belongings
Take what you need for the day: maybe around €50 and a debit card, and keep the rest locked up in your accommodation. Make sure to spread your money and valuables on different places on your person. Hide some cash and a backup credit/bank card in a separate bag — not the same bag as your wallet.
Moreover, keep your valuable items on your body, not in your general backpack/suitcase. Always keep your valuable belongings close to you.
In most European countries you can pay with the Euro, which is very convenient. Take into account, however, that Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the U.K. have their own currencies.
9. Keep an open mind
Connect to other people. Ask questions. Be curious. Meet locals. And embrace different possibilities, opportunities, suggestions, and interests. You may be surprised what you’ll learn from the people you meet during your travels.
In terms of languages and dialects, Europe is rich and diverse. Normally, local people appreciate it if you try to speak a bit their language. A simple “please,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry” in the local language can already bring you far; especially when combined with hand gestures and body language. Maybe you’ll have the chance to improve your language skills or learn some words in an unknown language.
Here's how to say ‘thank you’:
Bulgarian Blagodarya Irish Go raibh maith agat
Croatian Hvala Italian Grazie
Czech Děkuji Latvian Paldies
Danish Tak Lithuanian Ačiū
Dutch Bedankt Maltese Grazzi
English Thank you Polish Dziękuję
Estonian Aitäh Portuguese Obrigado
Finnish Kiitos Romanian Mulţumesc
French Merci Slovak Ďakujem
German Danke Slovenian Hvala
Greek Efkaristo Spanish Gracias
Hungarian Köszönöm Swedish Tack
10. Share your experiences
‘’Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.’’ – Ibn Battuta
Express your experiences on social media with other travelling youth. You can share ideas, meet up and spread your enthusiasm. There are plenty of opportunities to connect with like-minded people online (Twitter, the DiscoverEU Facebook Page or Instagram for example) and offline (in hostels, during events…)!
Besides, stay in touch with your family and friends from time to time, and let them know how you are doing. (Maybe can even send an old school post card or letter?)